Wednesday 13 March 2013

2013 Running Starts Here

The year started with some good runs in the lakes at home, here in the Dales.

This included an extended Kentmere round, going as far as Whether Hill and down to Haweswater to Mardale head back on to Harter fell to complete the round. A good run with Dave Dixon of about 37km and 1900m of ascent.

Dave Dixon running on High Street

The week after we were out in the snowy Dales and  did a loop up on to Threshfield Moor and towards  Malham Tarn and the Monks path to Arncliffe over to Kettlewell back via the Dalesway path. 36km and about 930m of climbing with Dave Dixon.

My first big event of the year was a new race called the Dark Mountains. This race was everything a traditional 2 day Mountain marathon thrown into one winters night. The brain child of Shane Ohly.

Dark Mountains MM January 26th 2013- Muncaster Castle

The wait was over and we were now at the event centre, which was Muncaster castle, at the foot of the Ulpha fells, the southern fells of the Lake district. Our Race start time was 20:00 the first team out in the A- class which myself and Dave had entered.

The weather forecast was poor and the weather running up to the event wasn't good with plenty of snow been thrown down onto the course.

On the night it was windy and light rain at the start. After a walk to the start we waited for our time by some trees sheltering from the very cold wind. Kit I was wearing was; Skins with running tights over the top, thick winter thermal top and Sealskinz socks and gloves with full lightweight waterproofs which stayed on from the start to the finish.

Off we set at 20:00 and we navigated well to the first couple of checkpoints and the weather didn't seem too bad, the rain was very light ( had we missed the bad forecast). Just as we arrived at the 3rd checkpoint there was a very bright flash that lit the whole sky up followed by a very loud rumble! Well that was the start of Armageddon. The night had; strong gale force winds, sleet, rain, and hail. The terrain had ankle to knee deep snow, knee deep slushy bogs full of freezing melt water. It was going to be a very good navigational and mental and physical challenge!
One piece of kit that was invaluable was the Sunto altimeter watch, which as long as I kept up with re-calibration of it at known heights,  allowing us to navigate successful with the use of the map and compass combination. Onwards and on some parts of the course it was were very hard work, deep snow and toe numbing bogs, with melt water, and at one point a waist deep stream crossing which really chilled me to the core. At this point I felt extremely cold and I was struggling to re-warm, hypothermia was evident. Pushing on we managed to navigate to our control points and there was no time to stop until we were against a wall looking for our next checkpoint when we decided we had to stop to get our extra layers on and try eat some food. Fortunately for me I had some spare gloves which was a great idea for me. The Sealskinz gloves were hopeless on taking them off earlier for a pee, all the lining got bunched up and I couldn't get the glove back on properly and I was running round looking like Dr No! and my hands were getting very cold now.
With new dry gloves on I felt much better, and once we had our extra warm layers on we found the next control and made progress to the manned control post. We now just had to keep going not letting the terrible weather beat us. The next control post took a long time to find in the bad visibility and driving rain. After some great navigation on finding the next checkpoint, there was a lift in our spirits. We were now nearing day light and was met with a raging stream in our path, which we had to travel a fair way up stream to find a safe place to cross. With daylight now here we had only 3 control points to find. The first one was easy but the next checkpoint, I made a small navigational error which I blamed on being tired, which cost us at least half and hour before we got the last control post, which took us on the taped and marked path to the finish line to be met with 3 smiling Marshals and hot tea and biscuits, oh yes what a nice sight that was. All we had now was about 1.5 mile walk back to the event centre and the download and a very welcomed full breakfast and more hot steaming tea. Once at the down load we pleasantly surprised to find we were in 2nd Place in the A class, well pleased with that result especially with the very testing conditions. finishing in 13:50 hrs. 
Me and Dave Dixon at the Start line 20:00

Post Dark Mountains, I had suffered bad with Frost nip in my feet a re-occurrence of last years Fellsman. Even after 5 weeks after the Dark mountains the ends of my big toes are still numb to the touch!

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