Total Campusing Blast at BIFF 2017

It’s 10am and I’m on the bus from Sheffield back to London, still super hyper from last night’s BIFF at The Climbing Works, so forgive me if this post is just a stream of rambling. What can I say though, the psych is high! 😀

After attending the Beastmaker International Footless Festival for the first time last year, I promised myself to return stronger in 2017. Even though I came last at 2016’s event, the atmosphere was great and you can’t quite beat yourself up for losing against a bunch of the strongest British and international climbers out there. The only goal for this year was to feel stronger and have even more fun trying the outlandish, ninja-like challenges.

Due to huge interest, this year’s BIFF included three events held in London, Manchester and Sheffield. It seemed a bit extravagant to fly from Bulgaria just for the comp, so I justified the trip by scheduling a wee business meeting in London around the same time, and voila, I was on my way to the UK. To give myself a chance to catch up with friends, I decided to attend the Sheffield round.

(Alice, Martin, Kate, Johnny, Sadie – love you all, Come visit me in Bulgaria before I move somewhere else!)

Little did I know that only the London and Manchester BIFFs were “campusing for all” events, and the Sheffield round was conceived as a super final for super crushers… Apart from this year’s finalists from the other two locations, the 20 best competitors from last year received invitations. And since I was twelfth from twelve women competing last year, once again I ended up competing against super wads.

It would be a lie if I told you I wasn’t anxious, but the anxiety turned into excitement as soon as I arrived at the Works. Everybody was there to have fun, the problems didn’t look that impossible, and of course there was the promise of celebratory pizza and beer. I decided I was there on special spectator rights – to admire the strong folk while having the opportunity to have a  go at the challenges.

Either they were slightly easier than last year, or I got slightly stronger, or most likely both, but while in 2016 I managed to complete only one bloc in fifteen, this year I found myself atop six! Two others may have felt more feasible if I my summer finger strength wasn’t a thing of the past, but the somewhat injured sausages simply didn’t want to hold on to crimps.

Counterintuitively, if you suck at dynamic, explosive movement, BIFF is the event to sign up for; You’ll learn more about swinging around like a monkey in those three hours than you would otherwise in three months.. It’s not just the opportunity to try yourself, but also to learn from closely observing others. (Although it turns out you can’t quite mimic Melissa Le Neve moves just by trying to copy her…)

I already can’t wait for next year’s BIFF. Hopefully I will be a tiny bit stronger again! I also hope to see more women there as the ratio was still very imbalanced (15 women among 65 competitors). I refuse to believe that there aren’t more female climbers out there that would enjoy the great atmosphere of this event. Wherever you are, chicas, come out from hiding! If you’re intimidated by the strong folk, remember I’ll be there too. 😀

Last but not least, the great advantage of BIFF is its punk factor that I certainly hope won’t be lost in the years to come. With the competition scene becoming increasingly sanitised*, climbing needs more silly, rogue events where competitors spit on their hands and kick each other to the wild glee of a heckling crowd.

Massive congratulations to this year’s winners, Gracie Martin and Aidan Roberts. (Hannah Slaney deserves a special award for bravely fighting against Melissa Le Neve.)


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