9th Sept The Lake District Mountain Trial

This was my first try at the Lake district mountain trial. It is different to any other race I have done as it is a totally undisclosed course  and it is in a time trial format. You set off at intervals then run about 750 meters before picking up a map. It is then a case of navigating your way around the 8 or so checkpoints across the lakes mountains. Th headquarters for the race, and thus the start point, are disclosed about a week prior to the start. This year it was Stair in the newlands valley.

So slightly daunted I stood on the start line ready to  dib and set off. I ran off fairly conservative 800m up the road, picked up the map then headed off for the first CP near High spy. I made reasonable lines and did not make any errors as we traversed from High spy to a point just above Honister pass. Then we made a strange traverse across to the flat boggy top of High Scawdel before having the first big decision to make. Which way to go to get to a point just below High Snab Bank . I decided on a traverse around Dale head then onto Hindscarth edge then drop over Hindscarth into the valley and along to the CP. Then it was an aggressively steep climb up and over the edge and on to skirt around Robinson on a severely off camber traverse. This seemed to go on forever before a climb then a flat crossing of Buttermere moss. It was energy sapping and my next choice after the CP above Buttermere moss proved just as sapping. If only I had taken the steeper but less taxing climb of Knott Rig. As  i descended from Buttermere moss I could see a few runners on the traverse around Knott rig into the Sail beck valley I decided to follow. At first it was a good track but this just petered out and became heavy going through tussocks and heather. Until finally reaching the track that leads to Sail pass, a familiar track to me as it is the Lakeland 100 route.  Even though going over Knot Rig would be a tough climb it was on better ground and required little decent on the far side, I wish I had gone that way as the valley seemed to sap my energy to a level that I didn’t quite recover from. On the tracked climb to Sail Pass I got chatting to a guy that had run the Lakeland 50. As we topped the pass to skirt around Sail, he carried straight on as if on the Lakeland 100 route, in my tired state I thought that he must have been doing the medium course and let him go. I had followed him for a few hundred yards whilst checking the map, to make sure i was right and he was wrong, and decided to cut down the steep grass to start the traverse. Unfortunately I was now too low and made it a tiring contour to the CP. I struggled on the out and back to the CP then trudged up to the CP on the small knoll AKA Stile End. I thought that the next CP was on top of Causey Pike, so I was glad to find on closer inspection of the map, it was actually about 400 feet below the summit. Cramp was starting to tighten my legs up as I descended then ascended to the next CP on the side  Causey Pike. I had to stop a few times to stretch the cramp out of my legs. Eventually after dibbing I made my way down the last descent. I was slightly rejuvenated, to know all the hard effort was done, so made good progress off Causey Pike. But my decision to put the map away bit me, as I missed the last CP just above the road. I descended to the road and had to run along it and was warned by marshals (thanks) to. re-ascend about 6o feet; which felt like 600 feet; up to the CP. then it really was all downhill to the finish. I was pleased to finish my first time trial style race.

I finished in the top half of the field, just, and it took me 4 hours 48 mins.  But I enjoyed it and will be back for another go. Hopefully next time I won't get the cramp which probably cost me about 20 minutes or more.

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