The Insurance Emporium took on a new kind of magical adventure at the Micklegate Run Soapbox Challenge in York on August Bank Holiday Monday. After a lot of hard work to prepare our cart, the day of the race was finally upon us and we were pitted against 42 other teams for a coveted place in the top ten and the glory of winning the soapbox race. Here’s a rundown and a video of how we got on!

Soapbox challenge

Day at the races

Our team and pit crew had a very early start to Bank Holiday Monday, gathering in the pit stops of Priory Street at 6am. As eager as ever, we were one of the first teams to arrive and begin setting up; readying our cart and ourselves for the race. We watched as other teams filtered in, bringing the pits to life with their energy and an eclectic mix of carts – including a hot rod, a bed, a giant corn on the cob and even Bullet Bill from Mario Kart!

Ready to race

After registration and a safety talk, we were raring for the day to get underway. The team discussed among ourselves the roles we would take, aside from the brave driver who had already signed up in advance. As we lined up for our turn, we discussed which of the four pushers would be first to push the car down the somewhat intimidating six-metre ramp at the start. After watching what looked like a giant sponge cake hurtle down the course, it was our turn.

Soapbox challenge

The fast and the furious

With a heave from two of the pushers, the cart set off down the steep ramp while the rest of the team sprinted the full length of Micklegate after it. Fortunately, however, our soapbox racer was far too fast for the pushers to catch up with as our driver manoeuvred it smoothly down the cobbled street. Our driver avoided hay bales and sailed over a 30cm jump, which slammed him around the cart upon landing. With a time of around 40 seconds, which was not fast enough to make the top ten, we headed back to the pit to think about how to gain speed.

Back to the pits

As we pushed our soapbox racer back up the recovery hill, we discussed potential improvements for our second run. Could the initial push off the ramp have been better? Was there any way we could improve the cart? Our driver explained that while our soapbox’s low ground clearance is excellent for aerodynamics, it needed a bigger push to avoid getting caught on the lip of the ramp. To reduce rolling resistance and create more speed, we pumped up the tyres further. Our driver also explained that the brakes were sticking because the back wheels were tilted. We applied WD40 liberally to mitigate this but would it be enough?

Soapbox challenge

2 fast 2 furious

When the time came, we pushed our soapbox to the top of the ramp for our second run. Two pushers readied themselves on either side of the cart, ready to push it over that troublesome lip of the ramp in an effort to maintain speed without skimming it. After a hefty shove down the ramp, the team flew down the street to the tune of Technotronic’s Pump Up The Jam playing out of the Minster FM speakers. The pushers followed the cart, high fiving the audience as they ran. Our driver hurtled over the cobbles and the jump, feeling the extra jitter from the firmer tyres but shaving an impressive three seconds off our time!

Taking donations from across the nation

In case you were wondering what our entry into this wacky race was all for, we wanted to raise money for the four life-changing charities that we work with; Canine Partners, Dogs and Good, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Medical Detection Dogs. We set up our JustGiving pages ahead of the race and are still taking donations, just in case anyone wanted to see how we did first! Simply click the links above to go to the relevant page. Also, if you didn’t make it to the event but want to see how we got on before you donate, you could watch the video below.

Even though we narrowly missed out on a place in the top ten, we are very proud of our efforts and had a fantastic time at the Micklegate Run Soapbox Challenge. We’re always up for a new adventure and, if you are too, you might want to protect that passion. At The Insurance Emporium, we insure all sorts of hobbies including bicycles, horses, caravans and much more. If this could be useful to you, contact The Insurance Emporium today!

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