Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Blokfest-finalist among the big guns

On Saturday 9th January I set out at midday to Mile End Climbing Wall to compete in the third round of the 2015/16 Blokfest series. Blokfest is a fun, bouldering festival, open to all ages and abilities making it the most chilled series of comps of the year. In the qualifiers of each round, there are 25 blocks set for each category (female and male seniors, juniors and veterans-some blocks overlap categories) and the aim of the game is complete as many as you can in 4 hours, with 10 points for every flash, 7 for 2nd attempt, 3 for 3rd and 1 for any other attempt. The top 5 climbers for seniors of each gender battle it out in a showcase final consisting of 3 hard blocks, with 3 min+ timing.
Upon arrival I was told that the senior British Bouldering Team were all competing, due to them being in London for training. This excited me as I knew, while I don't specialize in bouldering so could in no way compete with these big guns, I would be able to watch them climb in the final, which would be a spectacle worth seeing.
The wall was packed and I found it very difficult to warm up, due to a lack of space and having to queue for every easy block. After a small number of easy problems I decided to get on the harder blocks anyway, despite still being cold, as I knew the time would run out and the queues would increase in length.
Luckily, many of the difficult blocks were my style-slabby, delicate problems which could only be overcome with precision of the feet and small fingers on crimpy holds. I managed to somehow flash two of the most difficult slabs before trying a slightly overhanging, longer problem which I got to the last move on and came off. I decided after this to take a short rest and have some food before trying the remaining 3 harder problems I had not completed as well as all the other easy problems.
I was disappointed not to complete the problem which I got to the last move on, as I tried it many times but could not seem to hold the sloping holds right. The other problems I didn't complete included a horrific slab consisting of chalky, sloping volumes and a powerful problem on great bulbous volumes which I couldn't even do the first move of.
Overall I was very pleased with my score, achieving 220/250, as I flashed all but 3 problems, none of which I managed. However, I was disappointed not to make finals as, despite having believed at the beginning of the day that I had no chance with such strong competition, I had started to realize that I had done very well compared to others. Nevertheless, the finals were very exciting to watch and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.
I thought that was the end of that...until yesterday when my mum told me she had been notified that the scores had been calculated wrong. I had qualified for the finals along with the likes of Shauna Coxsey, Leah Crane, Michaela Tracy and Tara Hayes, all of whom are top boulderers in the UK and some of whom are top in the world (Shauna, most notably is ranked no. 2 in the world). A mistake had been made and I had not been invited to climb in the finals. I was amazed to find this out as the thought that I had qualified to climb in a final with these girls in my less-favoured discipline was unbelievable. In the process, I had beaten others on the senior bouldering team. However I was disappointed to have missed this opportunity.
Luckily, as compensation for the mistake, I will automatically get to climb in the finals of next round and I will receive a prize! Well done to everyone who competed and everyone who helped organize the event.
Keep climbing!