Sorry for the late blog this week, 3 superb reports in the inbox, two from Jake Holmes and one from Ed Halliwell. Thanks guys, very much appreciated! Don’t forget if you did a race and would like it to be included in the blog please fire it over to firstname.lastname@example.org, even just a few words or a link to the results would be great and really helps us to compile the blog each week. If it’s not in the inbox we generally won’t know about it unless we were there!
First up are Jake’s two reports…
Dark mountains – Mountain Marathon
“A search back in November for upcoming ultra races introduced me to Marmot Dark Mountains. 7 course options? Score courses? Elite, A, B, C? 10pm start? There was a bit too much to work out so left it there and carried on looking for daytime events with sign posts!
But I’d watched the promo video… and it had exciting music and everything…
So I found myself back on the website working it all out. Linear course… navigate between predefined checkpoints and back to the start as quick as you can… simple enough.
But it’s a pairs event. And you’ve hardly done any navigating in the daytime never mind at night. Ahh.. Steve Riley he’s said he’s done night stuff before. Quick message, and just short 6 weeks of him procrastinating later and he’s on board.
So on the last Saturday of January we found ourselves in Lowther Castle in the lakes. We bumped in to Chris and Max, who went on to take 3rd spot in their course, great work! The hour before start consisted of double checking our kit, putting things in and taking them back out again. You’ve got to carry quite a bit: waterproofs, sleeping bag, bivi, bothy bag (i hadn’t heard of one of these but I’ll be coming back to it later), stove, food – even a tent! So despite having to carry all that, the decision of whether to take 2 pairs of inner gloves or 3 seemed like a critical decision just 20 minutes before the start.
10pm comes round we’re given a map each and on our way. It’s the first time you get to see the checkpoints and your route. The first stretch is signposted to get you up onto the fells from there you’re on your own. CP1 to 2: no obvious helpful footpaths, so took a bearing and headed straight for it. 20mins or so of seeing nothing but the 5 metres or so of moorland your head torch lights up and other pairs of head torches bobbing around the darkness, and then the shiny box of CP2 reflects back at you not far in front! Great feeling. A CP ticked off and you know exactly where you are on the map again. On to CP3.
I’ll skip ahead now, as once you’ve described one stretch of pitch black mountain, you’ve described them all. The notable additions over the next hour or two were some serious ascents, the snow arriving, a highlight of the event for me when Steve splashed through a stream to get to cp3 and I took the bridge he’d missed 2 metres further up, and then the next ‘torrent’ of a stream that was unavoidable and we waded through up to our knees.
We’d hit each checkpoint bang on so far and decided to continue with our winning ‘follow another bearing’ tactic to get to CP5. 45minutes later we got there, or we thought we had, but it wasn’t there. About 10mins earlier, the wind and snow had really picked up. We had Haweswater down in front of us so we hadn’t passed it but the snow was driving hard, we had very poor visibility and standing still we were both getting cold quickly. Steve was having problems with his jacket and my feet felt like they were about to drop off so we decided to drop down out of the wind a bit. It wasn’t enough though… we weren’t getting any warmer and needed some shelter to regroup… back to that Bothy bag I mentioned.
5 minutes later me and Steve are cosying up in what was essentially a tent fly sheet about the size of a small arm chair but that two of you can fit in when you’re on the side of a mountain and needs must 🙂 An extra layer on for Steve, some dry gloves for me (I did take a pair) and moral started to improve. We even got the stove out for a bite of hot food and some calories not in gel or cereal bar form.
A study of the map showed we had an easy escape down to the valley, or we head back into the moors again. It was about 3am ish. We’d been going 5 hours, and with about 7hours max left we weren’t going to be able to complete so we called it experience, cut our losses and headed down to do the the 7 miles back to the finish on the road.
What a great event. Unfinished business this one. If I take one thing away, it’s that even if you do get your water boiling, you can’t rehydrate a dehydrated meal in minus whatever it was. Still it didn’t stop us finishing the crunchy luke-warm pasta 🙂
Two days later Steve sent me this screenshot showing where we’d been sitting was about 10metres beneath CP5! I’ve struggled to sleep since.”
Moel Famau Evening Race
“First of the Clwydian Mid Week series of 12 races – out and back to a different summits each time.
So this one was Moel Famau – from the top car park, up through the woods, join the main path halfway and carry on up to the summit. A quick scan of your timing chip by the hardy marshal and straight back down to the car park. Rain, wind and heavy fog from the start to the finish added to the fun.
Very professional race for such a small one with splits so you can see how you compared to the field in climbing and descending. And I’ve found the trick to a higher finishing position (15th!)… do races that hardly anyone else enters!
Next race is on Tuesday 26th Feb if anyone fancies it £9 in advance of £10 on the night.”
And now over to Ed…
Kong Mini Mountain Marathon – Round 1 – Capel Curig
“As I’m aiming to do the Saunders Mountain Marathon in summer, I decided I was going to do this as a ‘warm-up’ on Sunday. The format is a four-hour score event, which means that there isn’t a set course, it’s a case of getting as many points as possible for visiting controls in the time limit. This was a pretty new format for me, as my one previous MM (an ‘easy’ course with my son a few years ago) was a set course.
There were plenty of warnings about the conditions we’d be facing in the week up to the event, so the race vest was left in the cupboard and I went with rucksack complete with down jacket in. It looked like I was packing for a weekend camp away! The conditions meant a slightly reduced course, but given much slower going, this wasn’t an issue.
After a two-mile jog from Car Park to Registration to Start I was ready to go. Well, not quite, there was still time for more dire warnings from the lady at the start. Apparently someone had spent four hours putting controls out the previous day and only managed three or four. The someone in question was someone called ‘Max’ who apparently fancies himself as a bit of runner. The lady suggested I should put my over-trousers on from the start as I’d be needing them pretty soon anyway. I happily took the advice, and away I went, wearing more clothes than I’d ever imagined running in – two merino tops, waterproof, leggings, over-trousers, two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves.
I had a vague idea at the start of a possible route, and wanted to start with an easy control to settle in. This first control was at a low level, and running was OK then, but as soon as I was moving uphill to my second control it was snow halfway up my shins. The third control was up at 2500 feet. This was a real slog in knee deep and above snow, with strong winds at the top, but was feeling like a real adventure. Certainly happy to have full waterproofs on.
After the top, it was time to descend, and it was good to be running, but only briefly before I managed to get trapped by a crag and had to pick my way round. I was then into the rocks, which was a nightmare as you couldn’t tell what your feet were going to land on in the snow. At one point my foot went between two rocks and I fell. I could easily have broken my leg, but I ended up stuck in a ‘127 hours’ scenario unable to extract myself, as my weight was pulling me forwards, and I couldn’t push back or up in the snow and my calf wouldn’t fit through the gap. After some digging with my hands in the snow I only found more rocks locking me in, so I just had to really force my calf through the gap in the end to escape.
Off and running again, the next two controls were OK. On my way down to the valley after those, I panicked a bit about running out of time, so decided to abridge my loop and play safe to make sure I didn’t run out of time. Whilst these thoughts were going through my head, I failed to notice the big flat rock coated in ice, until my feet disappeared and my shoulder followed by my head hit it. Fortunately I didn’t lose consciousness, but my vision was blurred for a good 15-30 minutes afterwards, so I took it easy to the next control, and was anticipating a trip to hospital that evening. Sometime after the control after that I realised with relief I could see clearly again.
After that, it was another two controls along a bridleway, before a mile or so run into the finish, only just over three and a half hours.
Result – 77th out of 151
Summary – A great adventure. Not a particularly outstanding result for me, but it was my first attempt at one of these. Another couple of controls would have been just inside the top 50. Could’ve been a bit braver with route maybe, or could have chose a different route which would have yielded more points, but glad to be round in one piece!”
Northwest Sunday League XC – Croxteth Park
No reports in the inbox for this sadly, looked like a great race though in some quite challenging conditions. Quotes from Steve Riley and Davyd about the race:
Steve: “Croxteth XC: Good course, frosty, icy puddles, no falls. Average run, above average cakes. Thanks Jane.”
Davyd: “Croxteth XC: Good course, frosty, cold icy puddles, fell over 3 times due to stupid choice of spike length. Decent run, top cakes. Thanks Jane.”
Unfortunately Steve Saunders website seems to be down so I am unable to extract the Helsby results, once it’s back up and running I’ll update the blog. In the mean time keep an eye out here http://www.stevesaunders.co.uk/
Don’t forget the last and final race of the NWSLXC season is at Birchwood park on 24th Feb, would be nice to get a good turn out from the Green Army for that one!
Please find the consolidated results from last Saturday’s parkruns, we had a lot of cancellations last week due to the weather so it was great to see so many people finding alternative parkruns. Well done to everyone who took part!
That’s all folks, if you got this far thanks for reading and see you all soon. Keep on running…