Posts Tagged ‘tussocks’

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

Tussocks tussocks everywhere…

Friday, November 6th, 2009

We always did like a challenge so on the back of several years of running I felt reasonably confident about it all, and Graeme Shaw is a bit of a mountain goat anyway so reckoned we'd be ok. Well we were lucky to camp in the dry after a 4 hour drive to Wales on Friday night after work where we had a good meal and a beer, so when we got up on Sat morning for our bus ride to the start we could afford to feel reasonably positive. Remember to bring separate tents and bags and gear for this as you will want your rucksacks to be tightly and lightly packed with all other stuff; food, headtorches, cooking utensils, lightweight tent, energy regime, sleeping bag and mats and extra clothing, water proofs and gadgets.

The start was quite exciting with queues and klaxons sounding as we watched teams head off into the murk. We were nicely sheltered and warm and well hydrated, things were looking good. Finally it was our turn at the relatively benign time of 11.40 and we were off. Graeme's knees were a little poor from over training and possibly a touch of tendonitis so we took it easy and it was thoroughly enjoyable, you can't help but get caught up a bit in it all, after all it is a race. Our clothes bore the brunt of early squalls and strong buffeting winds but we were more than happy.

Unfortunately as the route wore on, us being on the C class half marathon per day event, we struggled quite badly from a poor route choice borne out of a hasty decision and then compounded by going for a checkpoint that turned out to be further than we thought and through a deep valley when we could have skirted round the top on a path! Under such circumstances our general fitness and positiveness helped us through but then we missed a checkpoint that we didn't think we'd got to just yet and had to go back and fetch it. This was followed by me falling into a bog up to my chest in driving rain. The balance of warmth, comfort and positivity can be upset by such factors but as a testament to our tenaciousness, despite it being touch and go for a while, we bore the brunt of increasingly bad weather and appalling terrain as it became knee deep bog for 3 to 4 miles.

Thankfully we finally reached the campsite a little the worse for wear but essentially with our spare gear remaining dry. Once in the tent we ate our sardines with pasta or noodles, drank litres of sugary tea and generally warmed up and dried ourselves out, i.e., wet baselayers dried in the sleeping bag overnight and we both had a good night's sleep.

Sunday we made no mistakes of course, once bitten twice shy and we couldn't sustain making it harder than it needed to be again. Graeme's knees were getting worse, and a cold he had started with became poorer too. We could only walk the second day but the weather was lovely and it was a joy to be on the hills with the wind at our backs and the end in mind and eventually in sight. Despite dramas and mistakes we learnt enough to have another go next year, and next time we might not get carried away by the 'feel good factor'. I think we came 197 out of 267 pairs, but we probably would have settled for just finishing.

Don't by any means let our exploits put you off, if you're reasonably fit and half decent with a compass it really is a lovely w/e away in the hills. We had soup and tea waiting for us on finishing and once the buses had collected us, albeit a long hour's wait but thankfully in the sunshine, a lovely meal provided at the end. There are several events other than the one we did, four routes of varying distance, C class being the easiest and B, A and Elite the hardest, followed by orienteering score events of three difficulties. For all classes it was about £45 each to enter. There have been other entrants from the club over several years and they are clearly enthused by the events, so roll on next year, it would be nice to stay fit to do it again.

Further info at:
and more photos here.