Mowing Nowhere Fast (2018)

In 2017 I was part of a team that attempted, but failed to complete, the BLMRA 12-hour lawnmower race. It’s an annual affair, held in Sussex in late August. After a disastrous series of steering failures last year, jes decided to rebuild the entire steering assembly, and we entered the race again this year. To cut to the chase, we finished(!) and ended the race in an entirely respectable 20th place. We covered 299 laps.

It was hot, dusty and incredibly tiring - almost every part of my body feels tired right now, and my lungs feel itchy in a rather unhealthy manner. The organisers had poured around 20,000 gallons of water onto the track in an attempt to keep the dust down, but it had made little visible difference when we arrived.

Compared to last year though, this year was a walk in the park - only a handful of minor failures to contend with, none of which felt actively dangerous. We weren’t hugely competitive on speed, but we were largely more reliable than our immediate competitors, which gave us an edge as we just kept those laps ticking over. We had the hot summer to thank as well - the mower wasn’t taking half the beating it took last year because the field was too dry to form the deep ruts that it did last year.

I also discovered that I have an almost limitless ability to make myself sleep on command, getting nearly three hours in overnight as jes and jrn did their stints. I remember little of this year’s race other than the constant cycle of sleep, food and driving for the entire night. Credit for the second photo below goes to Ian Clark.

I wore my Garmin Forerunner through the night, and you can see the regular pattern of an hour-long stint, followed almost immediately by 45 minutes of sleep, followed by a little while in the pit lane before heading out for the next stint:

The entire team: jes (ringleader and engineer), jrn (driver), me (driver), Emma (pit crew), Matt (pit crew) and Rob (jes’s dad, but more importantly invaluable in fixing things when we broke them).