|On the face of it a race of 6 miles with only 290m of climb is a gentle way to break the season in, especially when the route contains Parbold hill and when I think of Parbold I think of cooking and I think of Parboiled – “the food items are cooked until they start to soften, then removed before they are fully cooked”. How very appropriate I thought – soften me up but not fully cooked. How wrong I was
It’s the kind of race of that lures you in; treats you gently to start with, feeds you nice terrain and indulgent descents down from the start line for 1.5 miles, gives you some nice gradual climbs as you summit Parbold hill, cossets you with wide descending paths allowing you to take advantage and pass some of those glass ankled road runners. It invites you to extend yourself more than you really should, much like a pay day lender………and much like a contract from Wonga the sting is in the tail.
That indulgent 1.5 mile descent is returned with interest as you grind you way back up to the beacon but satisfying once it is all paid off.
So, softened yes, not fully cooked but more well done than I really wanted.Details
Marmot Dark Mountains
Last year I took on the Marmot Dark Mountains (MDM) race and it was easily the best race I did all year. A full mountain marathon squeezed into 1 night, in winter…. What could go wrong? We had every type of weather except sun, I was out for 15.5 hours on the most challenging of events, so when the entries opened I was first on the list. This year my partner had to drop out due to a hernia so I was stuck until Max ‘up for any adventure’ Wainwright stepped up – a quick pre-race photo and the Helsby duo were ready to go!
This year the event was in the Howgills and straight out the gate it was clear that the skills required to do well at these events were a little rusty. Firstly questioned and questioned our path and which of the 4 it was, then once happy and convinced we were on the right path I spotted a quicker line that we’d missed. Still, we were off and the rust blew off quickly. Four things are required to do well in a mountain marathon:
- Quick, confident and good decision making about route choice
- Commit to that route choice and Nav’ it well to nail the controls
- All round mountain fitness
- An understanding partnership that focuses on the result (getting to the check point) rather than any mistakes
We managed 1,2 and 4 but 3 was lacking for me. My lack of fitness meant I struggled to get into a running rhythm on the second half of the night. That didn’t stop us having a great night out as we worked well together, but it did mean our result suffered from where it could have been.
The second thing I learned from this was that the event itself was so epic the previous year because the weather made it so extreme. Since I wasn’t fit enough to push it all event, as we slowed the terrain became all too familiar and lacked variety to keep even my childlike enjoyment on the boil – although we did managed some great synchronised falls/ twists on the large patches of sheet ice whilst been blown away by a gale force wind.
In the end we finished in 3rd place in 10:51:05, just over an hour behind the winners (who won the A class last year too). We did a lot of walking in the second half so if my fitness had been in a different place then I’m confident we would have been significantly quicker and would certainly troubled the reigning champions…. Maybe next year!
Click here for the race planner’s write up
Team Helsby arriving at Control 10
Photo by Ian Corless – find his round up and more photos here