Studio Bloc Masters
I am totally drained, but in the best way possible. As I lie in bed writing, my skin tingles with the feeling of fresh grazes and bruises rubbing against the cheap hotel bedding. It is sore to press the keys down to type as my pads are so thin. My brain feels numb, with so much processing and effort having been used today. My feet are squealing with delight as they wiggle free against the mattress, having finally being allowed to move after hours squeezed into tight shoes.
When I woke up this morning I felt sick. Sick with nerves, worry and excitement. I had travelled to Germany alone the day before to compete in the Studio Bloc masters competition. I was very excited to be here, but I was also very nervous this morning – something which caught me by surprise. I had never travelled alone to do a competition in another country. I normally never travel alone to them in the UK, and if I do then there is always a raft of people I know when I arrive. This morning I could count on one hand the people I would know, and I didn’t even need all my fingers. I was nervous about getting there ok, I had to navigate the German trains and the walk to the wall. Then when I got there I had to try and make some friends, or at the least say hello to some new people. The whole Slovenian and Austrian team would be there, along with strong French, Swiss, German, Ukrainian and Asians. Then I had to climb to the best of my ability. I nearly threw up before I set off.
I made it there fine. I even saw some more people I knew, which was a lovely surprise. There were 80 boulders, a real treat, and they all looked amazing. When I say that I truly mean it. The wall looked stunning, each boulder was a piece of art. I really just wanted to try every boulder!! There were lots of coordination movements, with a vast array of holds (many of which are used at the World Cups).
The climbing was super fun, and also lasted many hours. There was 6.5 hours for qualification! I thought at the beginning there was no way I would need that much time. Turns out I did, and so did the rest of the field. Over 500 climbers on 80 boulders means they get dirty quick! By the end a lot of the holds were stained black. The event is pretty much a German take on the CWIF, with all proceeds also going to Climbers Against Cancer and it drawing in mega wads from around the world.
Even though the climbing was obviously the purpose of my trip, I feel that what I have gained from the whole experience almost puts the climbing to the backseat. I feel I have learnt an awful lot about myself over the past 3 days – which is invaluable. I have learnt just how much it means to travel with people and have a support crew around you at events. I have also realised I can do it on my own if I need to. That mentally is a massive step for me and probably the biggest gain from the trip.
On the way home I got to spend an afternoon sightseeing in Cologne which was really cool. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit and it was lovely to spend a few sunny hours wandering around checking out some incredible architecture.
All in all the trip was a steep learning curve, but a very positive one.
I will definitely be heading back to the Studio Bloc Masters event again next year!