Posts Tagged ‘RAB’

RAB Mountain Marathon 2014

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

The start in CrookdaleThis year's RAB was based just off the A6 a few miles south of Shap. As usual in this event we were doing Short Score – 6 hours on day 1 and 5 on day 2 to score as many points as possible.

Our preparation was sub-optimal, as I went down with a stomach bug a week before, but it would take more than that to prevent me at least starting!

The start was a short walk up the road at the foot of Crookdale. The competition area stretched as far as Kentmere in the west and the southern slopes of High Street in the north. A quick glance at the map showed the greatest concentration of high scoring controls was in the north and west, so that's where we decided to head.

Near Wren GillMost people seemed to be starting up Crookdale to pick up a few controls on the hills to the north, but we went south west to Borrowdale (not the famous one!) and Bannisdale, planning to descend into Long Sleddale before following paths west to Kentmere and the start of the high scorers. It wasn't long before the scale of our over-optimism became apparent! By the time we reached the head of Bannisdale we'd already curtailed our plans drastically, abandoning the trek west in favour of a circuit of Long Sleddale. So we traversed the head of Crookdale to pick up another 15-pointer before the descent into the valley, where we ran past the mid camp before a steep 300m ascent up the side of the valley.

Unfortunately it was now clear that our revised route had been miscalculated as well. We were going to descend almost to Kentmere and back (with some 300m of reascent) for a 25 pointer – but there wasn't going to be time. And having decided to miss this out, there weren't any other controls to add in before we finished. We might have had time to get to Lingmell End and back for another 20, but that would have been touch and go, and with lateness penalties this year becoming draconian after only 5 minutes we decided not to risk it. So we got back with some 40 minutes spare (ie wasted).

At the top of Long Sleddale140 points put us in 53rd place, one behind Alan K who had planned his day much better, finishing just a few seconds late with 144. Peter had been doing well, amassing 125 points, but unfortunately a knee injury slowed him dramatically and he was 45 minutes late back, losing all his points in the process.

The mid camp in Long Sleddale was the same one we'd used for the Saunders in 2010, in a superb location beneath the crags of Buckbarrow. The weather (low cloud and clag with a chilly wind on the summits) wasn't quite as good as the unbroken sunshine of that event, but at least it stayed dry and mild. And on the Saunders, the Sunday's weather was foul, with persistent rain and wind – this year, it was just more of the same, cloudy and dry, though a little too warm with no wind.

Sunday's map gave us two main options – either east to the hills above Borrowdale and Crookdale, or south towards Sleddale Forest. We opted for the latter as there was a group of closely spaced controls, and it also seemed to give more scope for adding/subtracting controls depending on progress.

Ascending Brunt KnottThings went pretty much according to plan at first. A few controls in tricky terrain were followed by a descent to the valley near Hall Beck and a stiff climb back up to the summit of Brunt Knott (despite its trig point and fine views this apparently doesn't feature on any tick lists of summits, Charles please note!), then a there-and-back trip to pick up a 30-pointer, helped by an unmapped track. In order to find a way around the out-of-bounds areas, we now had to descend into Long Sleddale and go a mile in the wrong direction before picking up a lung-bustingly steep track back up onto the fell for 15 more points.

The original idea from here had been to descend to Borrowdale and go up the other side to pick up between 1 and 3 10-pointers. But time was running out, so we had to miss these out and take footpaths round the foot of the fell instead. Carmen led the way and I struggled to follow! Just over 4 minutes late, a total of 135 points – 34th on the day, 42nd overall.

Alan arrived shortly afterwards, having opted for the Borrowdale and Crookdale circuit, picking up all controls bar one to arrive a few seconds early with 130 points – just 1 point behind us (woo hoo!). Peter meanwhile had decided not to drop out, but instead limped over the hills collecting 70 points on the way.

The icing on the cake – at the prize giving we discovered we were 2nd mixed veterans in the short score and won a prize!

This was the first time that Ourea Events had organised the RAB, taking it over after several successful years from Dark & White. They had a hard act to follow, but managed to pull it off. Looking forward to more of the same next year, but first we've got the 2014 Dark Mountains to contend with…

Our routes: Saturday here Sunday here

Results here

More details about the event here

RAB Mountain Marathon 2011

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

It's unusual to find a mountain marathon in North Wales, as apparently it can be hard to gain the necessary permissions. So we were rather looking forward to this year's RAB, starting and finishing in Bethesda and heading into the heart of the Carneddau. Even the ominous weather forecast didn't put us off too much.

The format of the event is time limited, with 6 hours on Saturday, 5 on Sunday (an extra hour per day for the Elite class), to pick up as many points as possible. Controls scored anything between 5 and 50 points, with most of the big ones being a long way away; points are deducted for being late. The master maps displayed in the event centre contained rather too many out-of-bounds areas for my liking, too often this leads to limited route choice.

The strong Friday night winds in the campsite (school football pitch) didn't bode well, and the next morning it was raining for good measure and views of the hills were non-existent. We were raring to go!

A quick glance at the map as we crossed the start line and marked up the control list gave a number of options, but the one that stood out headed up onto the high tops for some high scoring controls, with various options available near the mid camp depending on how well we were going.

Heading south east towards the lower slopes of Carnedd Llywelyn we were soon faced with our first big decision, whether or not to take on a 350m climb to the north ridge of Carnedd Dafydd for an extra 40 points before losing all that height again, or just to contour up the valley to the next control. What the hell, might as well go for it. It turned out less hideous than it looked, and only added around 50 minutes, so probably a good move. From here we lost all the height we had worked so hard for, with the next control down in the valley bottom. A group of people were looking too hight and by the wrong stream, but we went straight there by following the right stream throughout. As we left, one of them spotted us and made for the checkpoint – one person then stood by it and whistled loudly and waved to her partner on the other side of the valley, so giving the location away to everyone within a mile or two!

We now followed the main ridge northwards, with detours off each side to collect controls, and as we had plenty of time spare managed to add in an extra dog-leg for 20 more points near the end. Finished in 5 hours 50 minutes, timing it well (despite both forgetting to note exactly what time we started!) with 10 minutes to spare, not enough to have added any extra controls, so we were pleased. 255 points, 39th out of 300 overnight, though that fell to 44th after they'd adjusted other teams' points due to two missing controls.

The weather had gradually improved all day, with rain turning to showers before stopping, and cloud gradually lifting to give a fine sunny evening. The overnight camp was excellent, in fields at the edge of the open fells above Abergwyngregyn – lots of space, so easy to find a pitch, and plenty of soft vegetation to make for a relatively comfortable sleep.

The next day we were greeted by continuing sun, and were soon off. Again, one route suggested itself immediately – unfortunately this was pretty similar to Saturday's route, visiting many of the same controls and following the same ridge. As it turned out, probably due to the improved weather, it all seemed very different.

A steep slog up the hill at least had the benefit of getting us onto the tops as soon as possible. After revisiting two of the last controls from the day before, we dropped over a col to another of Saturday's sites, but from here we contoured round the side of the ridge rather than going over the top. This leg was potentially confusing in mist, luckily it was clear, and as we approached we saw the usual group of people clustered round the control, showing everyone else where it was (for once I was pleased!). Another short climb back to the ridge was followed by some more contouring for a 40-pointer. We were wondering whether to go straight on or right after this, but everyone else headed left, so I checked the map and found an extra easy control hidden over the fold – so we duly followed them leftwards.

We were now thinking of options for the finish. An extra 15-pointer involved 150m ascent so we ruled that out, but there were 3 5-point controls near the end, I reckoned we'd probably get them all with 10 minutes to spare. Carmen didn't believe me, and was right, we got one of them and sprinted in with just 7 minutes left.

210 points, 42nd on the day, so pretty consistent, and pulling us up to 41st overall out of 300. Very pleasing, given that we've done very little preparation this year and I had a knee op in January.

Alan K was the other club representative, running solo. After a disappointing Saturday he pulled the stops out on Sunday (scoring the same points as the day before) to finish 134th.

An excellent weekend, in an interesting and unusual area. Next, an appointment with the OMM…




Route Day 1

Route Day 2

Clearing the cobwebs

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

xOff to the Macclesfield Forest for the last in the series of three 3-hour score events that make up the RAB Mini Mountain Marathon league. It was supposed to be in January, and then it was supposed to be in February, but each time it was cancelled at the last minute due to snow blocking the approach roads. And it very nearly didn't happen for us again, as Carmen is in the middle of a stinky cold and was up half the night coughing. But she somehow hauled herself out of bed at stupid o'clock, and a few hours later we were off.

The weather was glorious – cold (ice on the reservoirs) but sunny, without a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind. We were a bit more conservative in our route choice than usual as we weren't sure how much energy Carmen would have, but we needn't have worried, she was as fast as ever. We eventually finished with 15 minutes to spare – could have gone for those extra controls after all! 240 points was good enough for 2nd on the day in the mixed vets class (out of only 7 starters). Whether this is good enough to win the league remains to be seen (we were leading after the first 2 events, but were pipped at the post last year and finished 2nd).

Clearing the cobwebs

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Last Sunday was forecast to be very very wet and very very windy, with low cloud and poor visibility – so perfect conditions for a run round Kinder! It was round 1 of the RAB Mini-Mountain-Marathon series – a set of three 3-hour score events in the Peak District. Two years ago, when there were hardly any entries (it was the first year it was held), we managed to win the mixed pairs class. Last year we came a close second. This year I am officially an old git, and so we were promoted to the 'mixed veterans' class – usually more competitive as many fell runners seem to improve into their 40s and even 50s (so there's hope for me yet).

The drive down took ages due to heavy rain – spray on the M1, and floods on the back roads. But this gave us the advantage of a late start – the weather didn't take too long to improve, and the last 2 hours of the race were dry and even sunny at times.

I was tired after the previous weekend's OMM, and Carmen was still under the weather after a 2-week bout of girl-flu, so we couldn't go too fast. We started to the south of Edale with a steady climb up the hill, and a long run along Lord's Seat. Wet and windy, but on footpaths so no navigation to worry about. By the time we turned off the path to contour across the moors above Upper Booth and Jacob's Ladder, the rain was easing, and the cloud lifting.

After a control near Edale Cross we decided to play it safe, and rather than detour to Kinder Low for another 20-pointer, headed back towards Crowden Clough in dry weather but strengthening winds. Things went temporarily wrong when we reached the Pennine Way about 200m further east than expected, and faced a tiring fight back to the control, directly into the wind. But after this, we just had to follow the PW back to Edale, and made it with 3 minutes to spare.

175 points – could have been 185 with a slightly better route choice near the end, but still pretty good. It put us 32nd overall (out of 122), but more importantly, 1st out of 10 in our class. Which was nice 🙂

The next round is on 6th December, starting in Hayfield. Still a few places left if anyone fancies joining us! But don't wait too long, the last event filled up quickly.

Full results, routes, etc are here.

RAB Mountain Marathon 2009

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

The RAB Mountain Marathon this year was in the Howgills, probably my favourite area for running – steep-sided grass-covered hills, long flat valleys, and runnable almost everywhere. Since I'm now officially an old git, Carmen and I were in the Mixed Veterans class for the first time; Alan K has been an old git for several years, and was in the Male Veterans class again, running solo.

The event format is the same for all classes – you have a fixed time (6 hours on day 1, 5 on day 2 – the Elite have an extra hour each day) to accumulate as many points as possible, with controls worth between 5 and 40 points depending on difficulty and distance.

Saturday's weather was glorious. Mist in the valley bottoms to start the day, and clear blue skies above, sunny and warm but not too hot. Carmen and I spent a while working out a route, and decided to miss out a few low scorers near the start, to maximise the chances of having enough time to get to some of the more distant controls. And for once, it worked out well, and we managed to get one of the two 40-point controls and a couple of 30s, with enough spare time for a detour near the end to pick up an extra 15. We even managed to run for much of the day, normally we end up walking most of the time.

We finished the day with 7.5 minutes to spare, and 235 points – 3rd place in our class! (out of 27 starters). Only 5 points behind 2nd place, and another 5 behind 1st, and with a cushion of only 15 points above 4th, so it was all to play for. Alan meanwhile was 41st out of 83, much better than he'd expected.

The Saturday night camp was in a beautiful location, by the Cross Keys Temperance Inn near Cautley Spout. Those without scruples who'd brought some money with them queued for burger and chips at the inn, while those of us without scruples but less money made do with ice creams and/or coke before cracking open the pot noodles.

The next day also started with mist in the valleys, unfortunately we were in the valley, so it was chilly and damp. It soon cleared to give another dry day, but much cloudier than Saturday.

We tried to put the other teams out of our minds, and concentrated on finding another good route. We chose a high-risk option, heading away from the finish for the first couple of hours to collect a few high scorers, and hoping we'd be quick enough to get back within the 5 hours allowed. The outcome was still in doubt as we turned back south towards Sedbergh, and remained in doubt almost to the end, it was not until we left the penultimate control that we knew we'd finish in time and could start to relax. In the end, we had 12.5 minutes to spare.

190 points for the day, 425 overall. There followed a nervous wait for the final results…

And we'd finally done it! The overnight 1-2-3-4 had stayed the same, with 1 and 2 scoring 200, and 4 scoring 180 – our first (and probably last) mountain marathon podium finish! I'd like to thank my parents, Carmen's parents, my brother, his wife, their cats, the fishmonger in Wetherby <bursts into tears>…

Alan also had a good day, despite finishing 9 minutes late, and much to his surprise moved up to 35th, a good result.

Vital statistics:
Day 1. 33.5km, 1350m ascent, 5 hours 52 minutes 14 seconds
Day 2. 28km, 1100m ascent, 4 hours 47 minutes 31 seconds

More Photos

Saturday's route
Sunday's route

Saturday splits
Sunday splits

Planetfear report