BIFF 2017

The Beastmaker International Footless Festival.  The most crazy, exciting and ridiculous event I have been involved in.  Every year it gets bigger and better, but this year took it to another level.


Firstly, there were qualifying rounds.  I went along to the Manchester round a few weeks ago, and had an absolute blast, it turned out however it was merely a flavour of how good the final would be.  The final of the event was held on Saturday at The Climbing Works, with around 80 competitors, over 300 spectators at the venue and thousands watching via the live stream online….it was one hell of an evening!

There were 15 crazy boulders for the women to try, from swinging balls to mantles and just straight pulling.  There were also 3 challenges:  the power pull up, the Red Bull fridge hug, and (my nemesis) the deadhang dome.  The unique thing about this event is that you get just one point for each boulder, if completed, regardless of how many attempts you take.  There are also stickers on offer if you impress the judges, with trying hard or a cool outfit.  Basically, the whole event is geared towards fun and quality entertainment!

When I competed in the Manchester round I had gone all out, and paid the price.  For the next few days I was knackered.  I decided therefore the change my tactics a bit for the final – I would try the challenges early on and have a limited number of attempts on the boulders, in the hope that I could save some juice for the mega final.  This tactic was going well up until I began on the challenges.  First up I tried the power pull up, the amount of force you generate is recorded, this went ok and I was happy with my attempt.  Onto the fridge hug…..imagine having short(ish) arms and trying to wrap around a slippy giant can, it doesn’t end so well.  Despite having about 10 attempts all I seemed able to do was slide down.  The best attempt was when I slid slower and stayed on for a whole 2.88secs!! Lastly, I tried the deadhang dome, which had been in Manchester, and I had only managed 3secs on it before.  I was determined to improve.  I’d also gained some knowledge on how to hold it better – 1. the dome is Perspex so if you licked your hands it became a lot easier. 2. Smush the biceps on as well, the more surface area of skin touching it the better. 3. Get your cheek involved.  Armed with my new techers I was mega psyched to improve my PB by a whopping 30 seconds.  Yes!

After 2 and a bit hours of campusing, swinging and clinging on it was time for the mega final.  I was SO excited to see what had been created.

There were 3 stages to the final, with each stage knocking out some competitors.  The first round was speed – a face off between two competitors whereby you had to race up identical boulders, with a joint finish hold.  Whoever got to the top first won.  Simple.  The names of the finalists were put into a hat and 2 were randomly selected for each round.  I was up against Sarah, someone who I have grown up with and climbed alongside for a number of years.  It was on.  With loud chanting from the crowd I made my way to the top to take the win.  I was through to the next round.

Round 2 was a coordination challenge.  There were two giant monkey bars and you had to swing and double catch the other bar.  If you made it you were through to the next round, the bars were moved further apart until there were only 4 competitors remaining.  I loved this round, it was so much fun and took me back to my gymnastics days.

Round 3 was the buoy hang off.  Buoy oh buoy was it good!  The crowd were so involved, chanting, shouting and just getting behind the competitors.  Like on the dome deadhang getting some spit on the skin seemed to help, sticky damp you may say.  After a round against Eugenie which I won, it was the final of the final.  Melissa Le Neve and myself.  France V Britain.  The final showdown.  I did feel slightly sorry for Melissa, as she had ended up having about 4 more rounds on the buoys against Hannah Slaney, due to rule breaking, ties and audience bullying.  She was probably feeling pumped, BUT the extra rounds had given her an opportunity to get her fighting skills down.  The buoys were quite near one another, and during the hanging time then different people would send us spinning into one another, and then we would also try to knock each other off.   With the ideal sticky damp conditions on our skin and the crowd hyped the final showdown began.  It was a close battle with both of us feeling the fatigue, however with one good knock I sent Melissa off the buoy.  I’d taken the victory!  I was Mrs BIFF 2017!

I really can’t thank everyone involved enough for what was a truly brilliant evening.  The question is how can they better it next year?  I’m sure they’ll find a way.  For now, though my thoughts have turned to training, it’s time to get my head down in preparation to retain my title in 12 months’ time……


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