Friday, 2 November 2012

Mountain Marathon

Mountain Marathon – the Howgills 27/28th Oct
Sedbergh Event Centre

This posting has nothing to do with canals though a lot to do with water!

Sometime back in March, Daniel and I agreed to have a go at this year's Mountain Marathon.
Having entered we learnt it was to be on the Howgills (seen on the right from the M6 after the Kendal turning) – one of my favourite areas where I have competed several times (a long time ago!).

Dan and I had got together just the once in May to walk over the hills near Llangollen and thereafter agreed to prepare through individual training.
We are no strangers to the rigours of the Mountain Marathon – I have competed in 13 such events and completed 9 of them, having got injured/run out of time to finish in 4.
Daniel and I have done 3 together, though the last Autumn one was in 1993 and the last Summer one in 2003!

My pre-event training mainly consisted of walking with the Ramblers and a couple of solo walks to build time on my feet to the 6 hours needed. I also did some gentle running, mainly on the Isles of Scilly and along the canal towpath.
Daniel has run in London, building up from nothing to creditable hour long runs.

We travelled up on the Friday in our motorvan and got a good pitch on a car park. A great advantage given how wet it has been.
The Event Centre was based in the Sedbergh School and the first job was to get our kit out and checked off on the Team Sheet, we were Team 1340 – doing the Medium Score Class.

Duly checked in, we had a walk around the Town and discussed team tactics in a bustling local hostelry.
  Van parking for the weekend

As predicted, Saturday's weather was bright and cold with a frost, even in the town. It was also quite windy! The start was some 2 miles away and the walk was a welcome stretch.
Waiting at the Start
Just before our Saturday Start at 9.40am

Our Medium Score Class required us to navigate on the mountain to control locations to collect as many points as we can and get to the overnight camp within the 6 hour time limit. Having got our maps, the route is basically up!

Dan catching his breath!

Sunny and cold - me catching my breath!
First big climb and a photo! It was frozen on top.
Looking back to where we've come from

Dropping down to the road crossing after 4 hours

One of the rivers we crossed
 At the end of Day1, we had collected 100 points and although made a navigational mistake, got back in 5 hours 30 mins – an overnight position of 194th. Not bad given we had walked most of the way, covered about 12 miles and climbed about 4,500ft.
The overnight camp is something to behold with tents everywhere – and the occasional plaintive shout when someone can't find their way back from the water/toilet point.
Tent city
Well earned rest after a cup of tea!
Hey up! We got 'selected' for a kit check!
We passed of course!
After a night of little sleep, the cold, cramp and the rain – yes it's Day2 and a ReadyBrek treat for the 5 hours back! We set off at 8.17am.
And it rained and rained!

That's where we're going!
Unfortunately, I made another navigational error in my orienteering and we used up valuable time trying to find a low point control and failing. Having moved on, we needed to keep an eye on the time.
Make no mistake, these are big mountains and it was a tough day weatherwise.
Having climbed up to approach a control, we needed to contour round and then disaster!
The sole of my right shoe ripped off and was u/s.
The decision was to head for home – putting both socks on the shoeless foot, I hobbled back. At times slipping and at times falling!
After a time check we knew we were going to finish within the 5 hour limit and began to relax a little.
Alas poor Woollie, I knew him well … .
  Heading back

The finish was in sight and we jogged and slithered (me) down to cross the line in 4 hours 32 mins with only 55 points – it gave us a Day2 position of 184th.
We had covered about 11 miles and climbed about 3,400ft.
So elated at finishing with a score and a position – and yet frustrated by orienteering errors and the shoe disaster – we didn't get a final photo?!

Overall, our 155 points gave us 194th out of 209 entries – a Bronze Certificate.

We both know we have it in us to do a lot better – by getting fitter so as able to run more and climb better; carrying less and better kit; getting some orienteering practice in and, a decent pair of fell shoes! Til next year!

A big thank you to Daniel for believing in me and being a good teammate – it may be a surprise but we count in the Vets and came 79th Vet Team!

This is the toughest test of mountain orienteering – and we did OK.

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