After all the worry about the weather – would it allow the event to take place or not – Saturday turned out fine. A lovely sunny day with a slight breeze. Perfect! And what a spectacle we saw!
First came the qualifiers. Two routes each. The competitors had seen them demonstrated by the route-setters and then they could watch each other on them too. Sounds easy but it isn't - and it wasn't.
The senior men’s qualifiers were brutal! Only two men topped out on the first route – Gaz Parry and Dave Barrans. It was an old-skool technical vertical wall that surprised everyone. While the second men's qualifier was a really powerful nasty. No one topped out on that!
The senior women’s qualifiers were completely different. Eight topped out on the first route and five on the second. They looked hard too so perhaps this is an indication of the rising standards in women’s climbing.
For those that haven't seen the two Blackpool climbing towers they are striking. Each a concrete tripod, with slabby routes on the outside faces and mega steep routes up the inside of each leg. Watching the competition from inside, looking up at the billowing sail like canvasses - put up to protect the climbs from possible rain - was surreal. A bit like looking up at the sails of a yacht.
In the finals there was a clear switch around. No one topped out in the women's final. Jemma Powell, who hasn't been training recently, finished a very close second behind Lucy Creamer. Proving that resting is an important part of training.
The men's final was a real enduro-fest up to the top of the longest and steepest part of the wall. First person out - Alan Cassidy - topped out. Then third person out - Adrian Baxter - did the same. It began to look likely that nearly all the finalists would top out as there were some really stong climbers still to come. The likes of the awesomely strong boulderers Mark Croxall and Dave Barrans. But they are boulderers and the route was really, really, really... long and, agonisingly, both of them ran out of juice just a couple of moves short of the lower-off. In the end Gareth Parry was the third and final person to top out on the route and so he won on count-back. This was Gareth's second British Championship win in a fortnight. He also won the senior men's BBCs that took place in Sheffield.
Following his win Gareth said: "It felt great to win a second British title this year. The routes were really varied and tested a whole range of climbing skills. That made it so challenging! It's also great that the general public can watch an event like this. I'm just glad the rain stayed off for everyone after the deluge that came down in Sheffield for the BBCs."
After taking the title for the seventh time, Lucy Creamer announced that this would probably be her last year in the competition. She said "It's especially nice to go out on a high note and in some ways a relief. I've not been able to train properly as I tore a ham string. I hope it's as good a day for the juniors tomorrow."
Finalists are ranked below.
1. Lucy Creamer
2. Jemma Powell
3. Audrey Seguy
4= Michaela Tracy
4= Emma Twyford
1. Gareth Parry
2. Adrian Baxter
3. Alan Cassidy
4. Tony Musselbrook
5. Mark Croxall
6. Dave Barrans
7. James Garden
Junior results the following day are here.