– CP SQUAD ATHLETE
As soon as Sophie saw the first posts about CP Squad, she knew it was right up her alley. The buzzwords ‘adventures’, ‘like-minded athletes’ and ‘outside the comfort zone’ were just the trigger she needed and she spared no time in writing her application.
“I couldn’t be more glad that I did! The first season of the CP Squad has been plagued by weather issues, viruses and injuries, but nevertheless, we’ve had some phenomenal adventures with an amazing crew. Let me take you back through the journey with a blow-by-blow of each mission!’ – SOPHIE B
– Mission 1: Mt Somers | May 1 2022 –
Meeting a bunch of strangers on the side of Brougham Street at 6am was slightly daunting but fortunately the running packs, grippy shoes and proliferation of baked goods to share after our run were a pretty clear indication that I was in the right place! The van ride started out quietly but after a coffee stop in Rolleston, the now-caffeinated group were soon trading training stories and event goals. By the time we arrived at Mt Somers, we were all raring to go and the steep climb to get started seemed exciting rather than horrifying!
I’m a huge fan of Type 2 Fun but even by my standards, the climb from Sharplin Falls carpark to the Mt Somers summit was tough – relentless uphill at a punishing pace set by Richard. I like to chat while I move but by the time we hit the top section of rocks, I had no breath left for conversation! A quick stop to check out the view, then we headed off-track down the ridgeline to Woolshed Creek, negotiating a series of creeks and some bluffs along the way. Just over a thousand metres of descent later and our legs were pretty jelly-like by the time we hit Woolshed Creek Hut – perfect timing for a lunch stop.
Something that I loved about this mission from the get-go was that we got the opportunity to push ourselves and our comfort zones, yet it never felt overly rushed or stressful. The group split into smaller sections based on enthusiasm, energy and ability and we took plenty of breaks for snacks, layers and photos. It didn’t feel like a race, yet there was enough friendly(ish) competition among the group to make it something of an event!
By the time we got back around to Sharplin Falls, my watch was reading 25km with 2000m vert – certainly a good training day in my book! The banter was excellent and the challenges were solid. A fantastic selection of baked goods and a few beers in the carpark rounded out the first day and we all headed home eagerly anticipating the next trip!
– Mission 2: Arthur’s Pass | June 19 2022 –
The pre-dawn meeting was less daunting the second time around with plenty of familiar faces and the vans were soon abuzz with chatter as the group caught up on training and life stories since our last outing. A stop at the famous Sheffield Pie Shop only improved our attitudes, despite the inclement weather in the forecast.
With huge dumps of snow in the previous week and a very mixed forecast for the day, our second mission took a rather different format to the first but it still proved challenging, exhilarating and highly enjoyable! To start, we headed up to Devil’s Punchbowl falls, then continued up the steep icy track towards Mt Aicken. Just as we got above the bushline, the previously light mist turned into significant snow to general glee! The recommended addition of microspikes to the gearlist was greatly appreciated by those of us who had them, as we negotiated slippery slopes and rapidly accumulating snowdrifts.
Back down the hill, we headed around the Arthur’s Pass track towards the base of Temple Basin. Here the egos really went on show as we all pushed hard to the shelter at the top and our promised lunch stop. There were varied routes taken with equally varied success rates but one thing was for certain – those with spikes had a much easier time than those without! On a personal level, I busted my guts to try and beat as many people to the top as possible (although to be honest, I’m not sure that they knew we were racing), and felt a huge adrenaline rush as we neared the ski field shelter. Here, the coaches whipped out a special treat – a couple of plastic toboggans! Further competition ensued as we raced down the slopes, with a few bloody knees and dinged elbows taken away as reminders of the fun.
Down again, and the wonderful and moon-booted Lizzie took some of our packs back in the car, so that we could really let loose for the final 7km or so back to the vans, and let loose we did! The race was on, although again, the other competitors might not have known! We had definitely earned the treats at the carpark and although this mission wasn’t quite what we’d originally envisaged, being more a series of short bursts rather than a sustained day out, it was still an absolute blast.
– Mission 3: Lewis Pass | August 7 2022 –
Our final mission of the winter saw us headed into Lewis Pass but not before a group from the squad met for a session of hot pools, yarns and dinner in Hanmer Springs the night before! Suitably refreshed, we set off towards Lewis Pass.
Unfortunately the weather gods were clearly not in our favour, yet again, and it was drizzly and grey as we set off up the Nina Valley. Damp in body but not in spirit, there was plenty of chat as we worked our way up the relatively easy incline towards Nina Hut. After a brief stop to reset groupings and assess enthusiasm levels, my group headed up towards Devilskin Saddle with Richard. It’s fair to say that the previously vigorous chatter died away pretty quickly as the terrain got very steep very quickly, and what I had described to others as ‘quite a rooty track’ proved to be all that and more.
The hard work was all worth it when we made it up to Devilskin Biv, with spectacular views in all directions, a modest amount of snow, and the welcome sight of lunch in our packs. With a howling wind and a tight timeframe, we didn’t hang around for long, working our way back down the ‘quite rooty’ valley before linking up with more of the group along the track from Nina Hut. I was reassured to discover upon arriving back at the cars that I was not the only person who had to run a couple of hundred extra metres in order to round up my GPS from 24.76km to 25! We made it back just in time with the rain absolutely bucketing down about 5 minutes after the last people made it off the track.
It was slightly bittersweet sharing the now standard beers, chips and baking at the culmination of our run. There’s nothing quite like slogging your way up hills, along ridgelines and through snow to form bonds with new mates! I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that despite the weather changing some of the planned adventures, this first season of the CP Squad will be one to remember. It’s hard to capture in words what it’s really like when a large group of like-minded, Type 2-Fun-Loving, enthusiastic individuals come together for adventures! The coaches have been absolutely amazing, with unrivalled enthusiasm and banter, and I am so grateful to them for creating this opportunity.