2nd-3rd July 2016
This was the first navigational event me and John did together a year ago and we absolutely loved it. We made some crucial mistakes last year….lack of concentration resulting ending up on top of the wrong fell resulting in a 6 mile detour and ‘dibbing’ the wrong checkpoint right at the end resulting in a disqualification!! Some hard lessons were learnt and when entries opened for this years event we were both keen to give it another go!
That sinking feeling when you emerge from the Clag and find yourself on top of the wrong fell – Hard lessons learnt!!!
Returning back from injury meant I was a little apprehensive about my fitness plus John has been training hard recently ready for the Lakes Sky race and I was worried I’d struggle to keep up.
We made a team decision to just go and have fun and see how we got on.
The week before involved the usual faff. Two day events always seem to require so much more deliberation when packing….at the end of the day, what ever you take you have to carry for two days. Weight means everything….particularly with John who gets the scales out and starts weighing everything! This year we bought our own tent as we have always borrowed one before. We went for the Terra Nova ultra 1…..it was a cosy night on the Saturday night but we were warm and more importantly dry. I never sleep well in tents anyway so it did its job and more. Its a pretty epic tent.
We arrived in to Pooley bridge the Friday night to get registered and park the van up for the weekend. We over indulged in fish and chips and some cake….after all, fuel was going to be needed over the next few days! John was slightly disappointed in the lack of close pubs near by but I think the cake helped :-).
Our start time for Saturday was 9:11. Not too early so gave us plenty of time to get ready although we still had to do a little jog to the start line. Miss your allocated start time and you go to the back!
You cross the start line at your allocated time and it is then that you are handed with a list of coordinates and descriptions of the check points you have to find. We sat down and jotted them down on our maps individually so we can compare to prevent errors and start planning our route….one check point at a time. This proved vital on day 2 when John realised he had missed a checkpoint!!!
The forecast for the weekend had everything….heavy rain, showers, wind, lightening, dry spells and the mountain weather forecast actually said it would be difficult conditions to walk in!! Sunday was due to be dryer but looked like a fun day in the lakes was to be had on the Saturday! The weather didn’t fail us, it progressively worsened over the course of the morning on the Saturday and I finally succumbed to waterproof trousers towards the end of the morning as my legs were just freezing! We had bought new innovate ultra light weight waterproofs and they were perfect. Light and instantly I felt warmer. My only frustration with them was as I got more and more soaked they started to fall down which became annoying and further more dangerous as when running down hill I was at risk of catching my shoe on them and tripping! Nothing will beat the weather for the Helvellyn ultra back in December though so I was relatively un deterred by it!
Saturday was an epic day, navigationally we were on it. I think we were both so focused on not making the same mistakes again we checked and double checked our routes just to make sure! Mentally however, I really struggled. I’m not sure whether it was because I hadn’t done any training or because I was worried about my knee but I reckon it took me about 10 miles to really settle in and feel like I could run. Up until that point I had found it really tough going.
We arrived at the over night camp in a pleasing and shocking 9th position and we had a much appreciated break in the weather. Some one was looking out for us! It gave us the opportunity to get the tent up and get changed in relatively dry conditions. It stayed on and off for the rest of the day and over night I seem to remember it pouring down.
During Saturday, we both fell asleep for an hour or so and when we woke there was a lot of commotion outside. We discovered that a team had taken a fall and mountain rescue had been called. Due to the camp being in a Valley it all happened in front of us, it looked like they had fallen down a gully. Mountain Rescue came and did what they do best and got both members to safety/hospital and we were informed the following day a lady had broken her arm. Luckily nothing too serious but it does highlight the dangers that you can be faced with in the hills and what an awesome job mountain rescue do! They have a just giving page if you would like to support them:
The start of day 2 involved 2 miles of climbing…..what a way to start on tired legs. I was feeling remarkably strong going up though and I was really enjoying myself, a total contrast to day 1. It was almost like I needed day 1 just to get me going. As a result we totally missed our first check point but thankfully realised in good time and only had a minor detour to make. A little reminder to not get carried away! We were flying on Sunday, John had resorted to descending the fells on his bum as his fell shoes were like road shoes as all the treads had worn away or torn off!! We were ticking off the check points which were slightly trickier I felt to find on day 2 and before we knew it we were on to the last check point and sprinting in to the finish. What a feeling!
John really pushed me as speed is something I’ve lost since my injury but I managed to keep up and we stayed together to cross the line. We also maintained our 9th position out of the 71 pairs that ultimately finished!
My feet were swollen and blistered, I think they had got soft since my injury and because they got so so wet on the Saturday! My muscles were tired and tight but you know what? it was the best feeling ever. We had made it through both days, I had had no knee pain what so ever and to top it off we came in top 10! Pretty pleasing for no training!
We celebrated with a beer and some food and now…..now I think I’m ready to start training again and look for the next challenge :-).