Let me be the judge of that

29th Jan 2012



It’s January. Which in England usually means miserable wet days that seem to last for about 4 hours, then it gets dark again! It’s a day like that today. It started ok,  a smattering of blue peeping out behind the ominous black storm clouds brewing in the distance. But then high winds buffeted the trees out on the morning’s dog walk. But wind I can deal with. Around lunch time, just as I was tucking in to my second piece of toast and Marmite the heavens opened and it hasn’t stopped since. I think the lights in the house went on around 14:30 which doesn't seem unusual!

Don’t get me wrong now, Britain in winter can and occasionally is, very beautiful. When the sun does come out the light is amazing and you feel privileged when it kisses you, but it doesn’t seem to happen that much. Grey, best describes the months of January and February and more often than not my mood, SO, when I got asked by Matt Heason, organiser of the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, if I’d like to be a judge at this years event I jumped at the chance. My long dark evenings could now be filled with colour, excitement and adventure. Matt was actually quite apologetic about the number of films I’d have to watch, “No Matt really, it’s absolutely fine. I’d love to watch 100’s (slight exaggeration I think there are actually 75 that have made it onto the festival programme) of films about far flung places, exciting people doing exciting things, it’s just what my “Grey period” needs to counteract it.


I’m not going to bore you with MY details, but I just want to put a few links on the page and tell you a little about what you can expect to see during the Festival and of course the dates. So without further ado, may I introduce to you Mr Matt Heason of Heason Events and the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, ShAFF for short.

Sounds good doesn't it? For a full programme of events go here

If you can't wait till March to get you're Adrenaline fix then as a lead up to the festival ShAFF are also holding a series of "Expert Nights" to wet the preverbial appetite, I'll habd over to Matt Heason again to explain, take it away Matt "To whet your appetite ahead of the 2012 Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (March 9-11) we’ve lined up three evenings celebrating the cream of the crop of adventure sports which make Sheffield and the Peak District the adventure capital of the UK"

"We’re holding three Thursday night Expert Evenings on off-road running (9th Feb), climbing (23rd Feb) and mountain-biking (1st March) at the Showroom Cinema with panels of world-class athletes who will talk about their careers, events and offer tips and advice.

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival Director Matt Heason said:  “It’s a reflection of just how vibrant the Sheffield adventure sports scene is that we’re able to put on such an impressive line-up of speakers ahead of the main festival weekend.  Steve Peat is a Sheffield legend.  His Q&A at last year’s festival sold out so fast we had to double the size of the screening room so we’re delighted he’s back for an expert night, bringing the best of young talent with him.  Pete and Tom have climbed some of the hardest cracks in the USA and it’s a real treat to have them give their first talk about their adventures here in Sheffield.  And kicking the series off we’re honoured that Sheffield running store Accelerate has put together and sponsored an evening with some of the UK’s most impressive ultra runners and adventure racers.”

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival Judge,Team GB duathlete & adventure sports writer, Nik Cook said:  “It’s a great chance to meet genuine experts in their field, pick their brains and hear first-hand about their adventures.  Living, training and working in the Peak District I know how lucky we are to have incredible mountain bike trails and running routes as well as world-class gritstone rock and great indoor climbing walls right on our doorstep.  To my mind, it’s no exaggeration to say that Sheffield and the Peak District can lay claim to being the adventure capital of the UK.”


9th February 20.15 - RUNNING

For anyone who wants to find out what's involved in Ultra Running and Beyond, now is your chance - from a Bob Graham to the Lakeland 100 and even a multi sport 900km non stop adventure race...
Trail Running Magazine editor, Claire Maxted, and Adventure Journalist and ultra runner, Nik Cook, will lead the audience and panel of experts through a series of questions about the challenges of Ultra Running and Beyond.  This will be backed up by the real life experience of finding time to train, summoning the strength of mind to continue running when the body is screaming 'stop' and what it is like to race in the Adventure Race World Series as the only female in a team of 4.

Audience participation will be invited throughout the evening in what promises to be an unveiling of what it is like to be training and competing in an ultra and then recovering... and that's on top of a normal everyday life!

Nik Cook: Peak District based Adventure journalist & Sheffield Adventure Film Festival judge, ultra runner, advocate of barefoot and GB Duathlete.

Dan Shrimpton: Sheffield based ultra runner, who despite having a hectic job, young family finds time to win the Hardmoors 55, Lyke Wake (42 miles) and finished 4th in the UK Ultra Series, 2011, at his first attempt.  

Stuart Walker: Record Holder for the fastest ever solo and unsupported crossing of Hadrian's Wall (84 miles). 8th Lakeland 100, 6th in category UK Ultra Series.  Confirmed finalist for 2012 Adventure Racing World Championships.  Considered, by many, as one of the UK's top up coming ultra talents.

Caz Bullard: One of the UK's top adventure racers and regularly competes in Expedition style, multi day non stop races around the World. She finished 8th in her first World Series event and is now in search of that elusive win following a 2nd in the Terrex- UK and a 3rd place in XPD Africa.  As a result she has already qualified for the 2012 Adventure Racing World Championships final.

Caz and Stuart are both sponsored by New Balance, High 5 Sports Nutrition and SKINS.

The evening has been put together and sponsored by Sheffield based running company, Accelerate with additional support from New Balance.

The audience will also have the opportunity to win trail shoes from New Balance in a free to enter prize draw. There will also be goodie bags with stuff from New Balance and Trail Running magazine.

23rd February 20.15 - CLIMBING

Peak based climbers Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker (aka The Wide Boyz) have become household names recently with an amazing string of ascents of the world's hardest offwidths, culminating in their first ascent of Century Crack which, at 5.14b / 8c or E10 is now the world's hardest wide crack. And as well as that they've finally proved to Americans that, in their own words 'Brits aren't crap at crack climbing' and forced a few re-evaluations of what's possible with plenty of effort.

In this first joint lecture / slideshow since their return from the USA they'll tell tall (maybe that should be wide) tales from their trip, divulge some of their secrets, talk about crack technique and demonstrate how they trained for the world's hardest crack. And with a bit of luck they'll also be unveiling their special 'secret weapon' for the first time ever which will guarantee a night of thrills - and spills.  
So for anyone who doesn't know their 'widepony' from their 'trout-tickler' or even their 'armbar' from the pub bar, this is a must see lecture from two of the most charismatic guys on the UK climbing scene.

1st March 20.15 - MOUNTAIN BIKING

Sheffield’s Mountain Bike scene is arguably the most vibrant in the country with a wealth of superb cross-country trails in the Peak District, a thriving downhill community and a number of promising young riders hellbent on following in the tracks of local legend, Steve Peat.  So, what better way for the Bike Expert Night to celebrate that scene than to take a close look at some of the young guns making a name for themselves in a diverse range of bike disciplines?  James ‘Swinny’ Swinden, Josh ‘Loosedog’ Lewis, Annie Last and Abbie Taylor are Sheffield hard-chargers with talent to burn.  Local mountain biker, scribe and rabble-rouser John Horscroft and special guest Steve Peat will be asking the questions and finding out what makes the next generation of super-shredders tick.
James ‘Swinny’ Swinden has steadily built a reputation for phenomenal pace in the National Downhill Series and has a huge viral video presence.  2012 however could be the big year for Swinny as he has just joined the Steve Peat Syndicate and moved up to the Elite category in this year’s series.
Josh ‘Loosedog’ Lewis has a similar story to Swinny. Known as one of Steve Peat’s protégées, he’s got big boots to fill. But with a huge personality and a growing profile in the UK scene, he’s another Junior rider to look out for.   There’s every chance we’ll see him moving up the rankings in 2012.
Abbie Taylor is an Olympic hopeful in the newly added sport of BMX Racing. A World Silver Medalist in 2011, she regularly mixes it up with the top Female Elite riders.  She is now receiving help from British Cyclings’s Olympic Development program which could be all the help she needs to take things to the next level.


Sonds great doesn't it, I'll keep you posted on the film front and let you know my personal favourites as I watch them - see you there.