Sunday, 30 November 2014

Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathon: Edale

Checking the forecast before this event we knew it was going to be foggy in Edale and on the Kinder plateau for this 4hr mini mountain marathon. I double and triple checked that I had my compass packed. It was a necessary item for kit checks, and one this is virtually always in my bag anyway when I'm heading into the hills. Yesterday, it got used. The fog was so thick at times visibility was down to about 50m - even obvious things like a cluster of rocks you can identity from a few kilometers away weren't recognizable until you were stood next to them.

I was running with Jud, a friend from Glossop Mountain Rescue Team, so I was fairly confident we wouldn't get properly lost. We didn't. But we did take a few interesting routes to a couple of check points. I was mildly nervous before the start. Having only recently come through rehab for a calf strain I haven't run more than 90mins since mid September (just checked, didn't know it was that long). On this type of event though, for me at least, it's all about sustaining a pace that you can go at for the whole event, so no point blowing up on the first hill. Tactics were to walk the up hill bits and run where we could.

After registration it was outside for the kit check and dib at the start as we were handed the maps. Great to see no check points (CPs) on the Mam Tor ridge, and most seemed to be on the southern edge or Kinder. Slight relief that we wouldn't have to navigate across the plateau in such testing conditions.

We decided on a vague route, agreeing that we'd keep on eye on the watch, distance out from the finish and energy levels.

Our first CP was 15, and we both knew the route to it so maps away and off we went. The scale of the map was 1:30,000, so not massively different to the scale I'm used to (1;25,000). After finding CP15 it was an uphill slog to CP16 at the end of Ringing Roger, which on a clear day would have been very easy to find. First slight error of the day put us on the path on the easterly side of the point we wanted, but recognising the path thankfully only cost us slightly.

Next up CP 14 which I felt was not entirely in the right place, though the description was right. Back on the edge path we soon found CP12 and onto CP5....our plan next was CP4, but after a discussion decided to beeline (in a very round-about-way) to CP1 and bag 40 points over at Edale Rocks. We navigated back to the edge path much quicker, then dropped into The Cloughs for CP4, a quick hello to a few fellow Glossopdale Harriers hacking uphill, and we were descending steeply through dead bracken for CP3.

We were quickly on a good path heading to Upper Booth, and a left turn uphill for CP9. Quick calculations of ascent and distance back to the finish to CP10 meant that we were going to have to push in the final 30mins to get back without a time penalty. Navigationally it went really well here and apart from not knowing if we were slightly above or below CP10 we got to it in 14mins. Really good going after 3.5hrs and with a climb of about 140m from the last CP. We now had around 19mins to get back to the finish. I roughly calculated about 2km, but we had a tufty grass traverse to do for about 500m then a steep rocky descent to lose about 250m before the final 750-800m on tarmac down the road. It was going to be tight.

The fog was still thick, so anytime myself and Jud were more than about 20-30m apart we faded into the shadows. I kept pushing on the traverse, knowing if we went a walking pace we'd be in time penalty's. Finally we got to the path, had safely avoided the out-of-bounds area and were on the rocky descent. The couple of fields we had to cross were lovely soft springy grass so we could stride out for the first time. Then tarmac and only just over 4:30 mins left. I've run this road before, and it always goes on for longer than you want so I upped the pace and pushed us in to the finish with just 42secs spare. By my watch we had 53secs, so always good to go that bit harder than you want. Superb running by Jud, we did our fastest kilometre on that final one, pushing a sub 5min/km pace is not an easy thing to do after 19km and about 900m of ascent.

The soup, bread and cake was very welcomed once we'd changed and got inside the village hall. Thanks to Jud for being a super running and nav partner, and to the organisers for a great event. Nice to see friends and familiar faces in the hall too, sorry I missed a few people...until next time.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014


I have done it. I have entered my very first marathon. As you probably know, I don't really do much road running, so it will come as no surprise that my first marathon will be a trail one. The one I've chose is scheduled for 17th May 2015, and it's the Montane Trail 26 in the Howgills. There's a whole myriad of choices for trail marathons, including a flatter one on actual trails just the day before. But this one looks interesting because it's crossing over some wild terrain, just the sort of running I like.

If you want to know more about the event, see a route map or check whether I have in fact entered, there's all those details on the Trail26 event website.

I'm running this marathon as a personal challenge, but also to raise awareness for the great work that Glossop Mountain Rescue Team do. I live on their patch, and I'll be up front, I'm obviously biased about their voluntary work as my other half, Tim, is a full time volunteer member on the team. That aside, I spend a lot of time in remote parts of Bleaklow, and thankfully I've never yet needed rescuing. But, should that ever happen, I completely appreciate the volume of work that goes behind each and every rescue call out. 
The team goes out in all weathers, on all sorts of different rescues. But the nature of their job is helping others. So in my quest to run my first ever marathon I am raising funds to help the volunteers of GMRT continue their voluntary work as safely and efficiently as possible. If you'd like to donate then please head over to my JustGiving page.

You can also donate by texting GLOS98 £5 to 70070.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!