Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathon #2

About a month ago I did the first in a series of three mini mountain marathons. On Sunday it was the second race...and I was on home turf, the Hope Valley, actually setting off from the village I lived in (Hope) and where I still have family. We set off from Glossop nice and early, collecting a friend and two other Glossopdale club members on the way. Quite pleasingly the weather was glorious, and held for the whole race - blue skies, fluffy white clouds yet not too warm or cold.

I was running the race with a friend. She's a good runner and I knew I could rely on her to motivate me up the hills - the one place I an learning that I need to be pushed on. I was helping her with nav practice in exchange.

Checkpoints were scattered around Win Hill, Lose Hill, the Mam Tor ridge across to Hollins Cross, down into Edale and the edge of Kinder from Edale village eastwards to Hope Cross. After dibbing to start we got our maps and were off....well, officially started anyway. There was a decent conversation between me and my partner about route choices, and it seemed to fall into either the Win Hill side or Lose Hill half. We opted for Win Hill....my old stomping ground and favourite hill. The route left us a few options for additional checkpoints at the end, in case we had spare time or energy.

discussions at the start on route choice

I made a slight error at the start with my garmin, only starting it after our route choice discussion so I had to mentally keep note we had about 3 minutes less time than shown. No bother, that won't be important till much later!  Running across the fields behind the village felt good, I knew exactly where the first checkpoint (CP2) at Killhill Bridge was without needing to consult the map. I knew exactly how the gates opened, what stiles were coming and that it was a flat start. Good. CP2 dibbed and we're off along the track, past the cemetery, a campsite and onto tarmac to pick up CP14. More tarmac through Aston, then fields, that's the last tarmac we'd see for most of the run, great.

Climbing steadily my HR monitor gave its first bleep that I'd reached my target zone for a training experiment I'm going to be doing. I'm wanting to increase my capacity to tolerate lactate, and see if I can raise my lactate threshold....but that's all a different story and sufficed to say, by the time we'd dibbed CP15 it was starting to annoy me. My HR levelled out as we traversed towards Parkin Clough. I know this path and as we began the steep descent I turned off the HR zone bleeper before we doubled back up the muddy, steep ascent.

Looking back over to Win Hill which we circumnavigated but never summited on this race (though I've been there many times)

CP21 acquired easily for us in the clough...I'm sure the guy in front of us won't have been the only one to run straight past this CP. The steep narrow rocky, muddy path requires total concentration at walking pace (which we were close to) let alone running down so missing this out and back CP will have been costly to some. The path continues to drop right down through the trees, to the road at the bottom, so anyone missing the CP would have had about 200m to climb instead of about 100m.

Contouring round the top of the forest we picked up CP16 then CP12, and onto CP23 - nice easy running down the grass and mud track. We started to wonder at what point Tim would jump out with his camera. He wasn't racing, but was out for a long easy run, vaguely around some of the race route. Later on we'd be wishing he was there to greet us with a picnic, but we forged on without coming across him once.

A fellow Glossopdale Harrier on the path somewhere between CP12 - CP23 - CP18

Next up was an easy run along the path and slightly down to CP18, then a short double back before dropping down into Jaggers Clough along the stony track. We saw a fellow club runner as we headed up to CP19 then another on the way back down. Next we headed down Backside Wood, and onto a path I don't think I've ever been on before. Careful footing required here - lots of slippy tree routes in and amongst the mud and grass on the narrow path. As we emerged from the woods on to the grassy path by the stream we commented that this would be a perfect picnic spot. I settled for a geobar and a swig of hydration drink and we continued. Good spotting of CP11 by my partner saved us descending beyond it on the lovely grassy path - a reminder to me to keep an eye on the map a little closer as I get more tired.

Crossing the main road from Hope to Edale we ducked under the railway bridge and onto another path I'm fairly sure I've not trodden previously. Shocking to think that, given that I lived so close by. Note to self: make sure I explore all paths around Glossop - always try new routes and don't settle for the ones you know well.

So now we're mentally on the way back towards the finish. The village of Hope comes into view as we contour around Lose Hill and we keep a few options open for possible CPs to get on top of the ones we know we can definitely get. CP10 is easily dibbed, and onto CP5. It's getting around Townhead farm that gives us our only slight nav error of the day. First we go over the stile then second guess our route choice so jump back over and explore a field with a tantalisingly good looking track heading over the brow in the right direction. Compass out time. Careful check of the map. Nope, we definitely need to be going over the stile. A few minutes wasted, but not a disastrous error. I should have just trusted my first thoughts - there is only one path off Lose Hill here!!

Now for a decent bit of ascent to Losehill End - CP5 dibbed and continue to a fork in the path. Choices choices. Do we climb up for CP6 which some walkers were adamant was literally just over the rise - but our maps indicated was a fair distance and a good amount of ascent higher. Or, do we go down and get CP1 then decide if we can get CP7 then CP3. Down it was. It felt like with our time remaining, plus the ascent up to CP7 I just wouldn't have had the energy to get up there and down in time. Maybe it was more of a mental game. Once you feel like you're returning does that stop you pushing?

CP6 - which is exactly where I knew it would have been, and a lot further up the hill than the walkers claimed!

Anyway, our choice was made and we returned to very familiar paths for me. I knew exactly where CP1 would be and it was. Now to contour round towards Castleton and Spring House Farm. More paths I know. Our final choice of the day. CP7+CP3 or just CP3 and back. A quick calculation of distance gave us about an additional 2km, that meant another 12-15 minutes of running and would have got us just back with a big push and no let up. Our aim of the day was to enjoy ourselves, and we'd done that. Both of us had that heavy leg feeling, and not surprising really. We'd already covered about 17km, it would be around 18km to the end from this point. This is around my longest distance to date and my partner was also feeling the creep of fatigue take its grip. That made the decision. We'd drop down from Spring House Farm, dib CP3 and have a leisurely jog back to the finish.


Clearly we were both more tired than we thought - as dropping down the track we had a walk when really there should have been no need. We could relax, enjoy the sunshine and puzzle over why the little lambs were wearing orange jackets?! A frosty night ahead, or some other reason?

600-700m later we're turning into the car park at Hope playing fields and dib the final time to end our race. We had about 24 minutes remaining. It would have been tight to get CP6 towards the top of Lose Hill or CP7 towards Castleton. A good choice to return as we did. I wanted to sit and rest but my legs told me to jog around the field a little, and to keep drinking. I must avoid the cramp. I knew I'd still got some fluid left so I gulped it down safe in the knowledge a toilet was close!!  The paths were busy today with little opportunity to find a quiet spot!

We changed into dry clothes and got a brew as we waited for our club mates to return in. Tim joined us; his run was over before ours and he had enjoyed a brew and cake at the Woodbine Cafe down the road. Many thanks to Tim who took all the photos in this blog.

The sun was still beating down, and as someone said, it was just enough to combat the chill of the wind. But only just enough. I was thankful to have changed into dry clothes otherwise I know I would have chilled very rapidly.

Hope Pavilion, chatting with fellow competitors at the finish

The results were being posted outside the pavilion every few minutes and at one brief point I was second in my category. With the final results out I've placed 8th out of 9, and 100th out of 133 overall. The order we visited CPs was: 2 - 14 - 15 - 21 - 16 - 12 - 23 - 18 - 19-11 - 10 - 5 - 1 - 3. Here's the split times:

      8       56 Lynne Taylor                                                                                      185          2:36:58                                    185 
               102(10)  114(10)  115(15)  121(15)  116(20)  112(15)  123(10)  118(20)  119(20)  111(10)  110(10)  105(10)  101(10)  103(10)        F          
                  7:11    15:08    25:48    38:46    50:35  1:03:55  1:10:20  1:19:50  1:31:44  1:44:20  1:54:15  2:09:07  2:20:51  2:30:15  2:36:58          
                  7:11     7:57    10:40    12:58    11:49    13:20     6:25     9:30    11:54    12:36     9:55    14:52    11:44     9:24     6:43 

Here's my Garmin track if you're interested and the full Dark & White results.

The next mini mountain marathon in the series is being held in the White Peak, starting somewhere around Dovedale. Looks like it's a longer drive to that one, but there'll be company again from club mates and I'll also have a partner for that one too which is brilliant news.

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