Sunday, 29 January 2012

Kinder Trial Fell Race

24 hours ago I was a little nervous. I was dressed for running, standing in a room buzzing with excitement, people studying a map with no controls shown, suggesting places the controls could be. We were all there for one common take part in the Kinder Trial, an orienteering fell race (listed as 18km and 650m ascent) with cake and soup at the end (a very important motivational factor once you're out on the hill).

The day was glorious, blue sky, a slight nip to the air, and snow on the ground. That final point was making my anxiety levels rise somewhat. I've only ever run on snow once before...never in a race....and I've never run this distance or estimated time before. I'd warned my running partners (Alison and Becky) and they were more than happy to run at my pace, using the race as navigational practice. They were fantastic throughout, pulling me along where I would have been slower, waiting patiently where I was slower than them (mostly descents which I must practice more). I really am very grateful for their company. I could have done the race without them, but it wouldn't have been half as much fun and that's after all why I'm doing races this year - to have fun on the hills.

the start...that's us by the door
10:07 was our start time...only then do you see the map plus controls. No two minute window to check the map this year - just grab it and review on the go. We were weirdly enough like giggling school girls as we took the maps and ran down the steps from Hayfield scout hut. The map revealed 13 controls scattered over the western side of Kinder, first decision is clockwise or anti?  We chose clockwise, favouring an approach to Mount Famine from higher up, rather than having to climb it at the start of the race.

Then we're off and running through Hayfield aiming for the shooting cabin and our first check point. With staggered start times it makes it impossible to know who you're racing against on the hill - only the final results once everyone is back shows your placing so it really is just you, the map and your feet.

Snow on the ground gave us easy trods to follow, even being in the early starters there was very little trail breaking for us to do. I was mildly disappointed with this as it made it more of a point to point race than true navigation in an orienteering race. But, it was nice not to have to wade through ankle deep snow for the whole time.

me at the front, though not leading!
We found the first six checkpoints easily, then hit a blank with CP8. It wasn't just us...there must have been 15 or so runners all scouring the gully, digging out snow in case the control had been buried overnight. Nope, can't find it. Just got wet gloves. We confirmed with several others we'd just bin it and hope we wouldn't lose out in the results if everyone couldn't find it. Off up the hill aiming for the furthest east checkpoint beyond Edale Rocks/Swines Back. Then we hear that CP8 has been found in a different gulley....and we're off back down the hill, losing all the height we'd just gained to clip the control. My heart sank. I was starting to feel tired anyway so really didn't want to face the uphill stretch again. I kick myself mentally for being negative and just get on with it. I'm cheered up by a bounding runner coming down the pointed at's Tim. He's running anti-clockwise and still full of energy as he snaps a few shots, tumbles into the snow, picks himself up and continues downwards!

We must be about half way I tell myself...keep going....check the map...just up the rise then it's down again. which must mean there's more uphill to come but don't think of it til you're there. Just get on with it.

The weather is still amazing but there's no time to stand and stare as I would normally. Today is race day and I'm somehow still going. I'm beyond my 12km/2hr boundary now. I keep taking a small bite of chocolate and a sip of water. I feel like I should be eating more but I'm not hungry. I've never needed to eat and run at the same time. This is all very new to me. Having the water bladder is helping me to keep fluids going in and I'm learning to eat on the uphill stretches so there's no stopping and faffage.

looking east from near Mount Famine
By the time we get to CP11 it's the long stretch to run up to Mount Famine and I'm getting quite tired. It's boggy on that bit; despite all the snow it's still wet bog, knee deep in places. Feet sink in easily adding to the tiredness with every foot step.  There's a lady on top of the crag at Mount Famine asking if we'll slide down the hill or run - what the heck, sliding will be so much faster for me. I'm off, on my bum sliding down past Sikobe and other runners slogging uphill. That slide made my day, I squealed with delight! We should have taken sledges with us for all descents!! It's here we make our only nav error in race. We drop too far down in the clough, spend time looking at the map and realise we'll need to climb back up. It turned out to be 90m of ascent. Now my legs moaned but I climbed up and up, through the trees and spot the rock outcrop and control. Clip, and back down again to regain the route on the more checkpoint left. I'm actually going to do this!

Running down the track is easier (requires less concentration) than on the hill but the hard packed ground is not good for my feet. We find the final checkpoint along with a few other runners and it's just a couple of kilometres to the finish...I'm pretty exhausted by this point and my water has almost gone. I get heaps of encouragement from Alison and Becky to keep going, there's no question they'll leave me behind. Thanks girls!! I go into automatic pilot mode and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I'm actually quite amazed I can still run as we pass cross the road and onto the final path up to the field and the scout hut.

at the end...leg pain commence!
Mild confusion there's no finishing funnel to run through...we just need to get up the steps and into the hut...control cards in hands we all rush through the door and throw them on the table. Sorry to the guys behind the desk if I didn't say anything. I was quite exhausted.

Once I'd stopped I felt a bit weird. I needed water badly. Tim to rescue. I can't decide if I want to keep moving around or sit down. In the end I do a bit of both, my legs are starting to cramp. I almost roll into the boot of the car in agony. Stand again. Tim goes to get keys for Carl's house so I can change...I lay on the back seats of the car and then it hits me. The fact that I've never had cramp before yesterday is becoming more and more evident. I can quite simply say its the most painful thing I've ever felt. I screamed in agony a few times. Punching my leg helped a little, squeezing it too. I keep gulping down water. The pain eventually subsides enough for me to stand, change and make an appearance in the hut. I'm still fairly dazed as I sip hot tea and eat garlic bread and cake. I'm just in time for the prize giving. Well done to Glossopdale - think we got 4 prizes!!

Here's my garmin track for you to look at...note the fastest kilometre is the 19th!!! I had pretty much ignored my time all the way round but now on the run into Hayfield I reckoned we could make it back in under 3h45...that motivation definitely accounted for the quick last kilometre.

This is the order we ran around: CP4 (shooting cabin) - CP3 (by large rock) - CP2 (stream source) - CP1 (crag foot) - CP5 (wall bend) - CP6 (cabin ruin) - CP8 (stream gully) - CP13 (stream gully) - CP9 (between walls) - CP11 (wall corner) - CP10 (below crag) - CP12 (rock outcrop) - CP7 (next to wall & pine tree).

Total time: 3hrs 44mins
19.25km / 11.96miles
866m / 2843ft elevation gain
Consumed: one chocolate bar and one litre water.  

I definitely should have been drinking more water, and given the level of cramp I suffered I need to start using electrolytes on long runs. Eating the chocolate bar was good...bits stuck to my teeth so I got the slow release effect!!

The preliminary results have already been posted here. Our official time is 3hrs 44mins 6 seconds, placing in 115th out of 147. (edited after final results published, we got bumped up one place, nice!)

All photos courtesy of Tim. 


  1. Nice one! A great days running/sledging.

    I find rescue ale much better than electrolytes. Which is probably why we DNFed.

    1. thanks Steve, what happened to you? don't tell me you cracked open a beer part way round?!

    2. Good effort and result Lynne, something to which I aspire one of these days. :-) It was an amazing day out there.

    3. Thanks Nick, the day was glorious. Nice to see snow still on the hills today.