Posts Tagged ‘jet lag’

Back o' Skiddaw

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Newly returned from a trip to California, Carmen and I thought we'd try out the Simon Fox Patent method of jet lag recovery, and so off we went to the Lake District for the RAB Mountain Marathon.  In its second year, this new event has no 'line' courses, but consists of a single 'score' course, where you get a fixed amount of time to visit as many controls as possible – 6 hours on day 1 and 5 on day 2 (or 7 and 6 for the Elite course).  You can enter it solo, or in teams of two.  This year was in the far north of the Lakes, taking in Skiddaw, Blencathra, and the Coledale Fells beyond.

We'd entered the Elite class – for the simple reason that the only difference from the standard classes was an extra hour per day, and we don't stand a hope of ever entering a real Elite class, hence this was our one chance of pretending to be part of the elite.  Alan K made up the rest of the YAC contingent, running the sensible class as a solo competitor.

A civilised start on Saturday, we set off at 9.30, and made good progress in perfect sunny weather.  So good indeed, that after 5 of our allotted 7 hours, we were getting close to the finish, and it became clear that we'd finish early.  After some detouring to pick off all the available controls within a reasonable distance, we ambled home with half an hour to spare.  Carmen let slip as we set off towards the last control, "you do realise the map is 1:30000 rather than the standard 1:40000 don't you?".  D'oh!  No wonder we were so 'fast'.  Still, 315 points and an overnight 19th position (out of 32) was better than expected.  Alan also did well, lying 34/66 in the men's veterans class ('veteran' in fell running means over 40!).

The campsite was in an idyllic valley, hidden among ancient trees, out of sight from above.  The only downside was the clouds of midges that soon swarmed around our end of the field, meaning an early night to escape.  It soon clouded over, with a bit of drizzle – followed by clear skies and a very cold night.

A leisurely 9.30 start wasn't an option on Saturday, the last possible start time being 8.00 – so we duly set off at 8.01.  Having got the map scale right, my wilder ambitions were reigned in by Carmen's sense, and it was straight up the first hill to start, still freezing cold, with soaked feet from the overnight rain and a heavy dew.  But the skies were clear, and it wasn't long before the sun came out and it warmed up.

We met Alan at our 3rd control, then again at the 4th, and the 5th.  At this point, we were making excellent progress, so decided on a slight detour for an extra control (Alan was more realistic and we didn't see him again until the finish).  A few hours later, we came to regret this decision, as we were fast running out of time and had to miss out on 2 controls near the end – a new loss of a valuable 10 points.  Even so, it was touch and go whether we'd get back in time, and after somehow running all of the last mile (including the uphill bits), we made it with 74 seconds spare!  245 points and 17th on the day, we finished 17th overall with a total of 560 – a whole 30 points more than the winner had managed on day 1 alone!  Alan pulled out all the stops, finishing 22nd on the day with 26 seconds to spare, and climbing to 29th overall.

A really nice area, we hardly saw anyone other than fellow runners – highly recommended for a tramp off the beaten track , just try not to go there when there's a fell race on!  A well organised event, which deserves continued success in the future.  This was easily the hardest event I've done, probably because we had to run so hard in the last couple of hours to get back without incurring penalties.  I'll be back for more of the same next year – though I'm definitely retiring from the Elite!

Vital statistics:
Day 1 – 36km, 1350m ascent, 6hr 35min
Day 2 – 30km, 1250m ascent, 5hr 59min

More information about the RAB Mountain Marathon can be found here.

More photos here.