Wednesday, 2 October 2013

What do ultra runners do for a rest?

Enter a mountain marathon of course. So this is not ultra number 52 but a brief report on the RAB. It was based this year at Newlands Adventure Centre Stair, like the LDMT just over a year ago. It would be my third go at this and another chance to see how I coped running solo and making all the decisions mistakes myself. Bob was coming to do the race too so we drove up in the van on Friday night, registered and pottered around. The idea was an early night and a bit of a lie in to set us up for the weekend.
Saturday dawned chilly but fine. The forecast was good. Starts at the RAB are very flexible so we dumped the keys and wandered up the lane. It was already getting warmer. Within seconds I had probably made my first error and set off up Catbells with the majority even though there were more points by going along the valley floor which is what I had initially planned to do. Once up there the ridge was a delight and I headed off to Maiden Moor and Nitting Haw for more points. The views were brilliant and it was warm and sunny.  True it made the navigation easy but it was great to be out and so different to a fortnight before when the LDMT was cancelled. As I approached the next control I was forced to stop- my brand new shoes were now soaked from the bog and they had stretched. A few minutes to tighten laces were essential. I dropped to Honister feeling glad that I could race downhill without fractured ribs jarring this time. Decision time again- to go east first or not. I did and I think I got that right but sadly after Grey Knotts my haste made me daft again. I dropped to Dubs Bottom and then went up Fleetwith Pike. It would have made sense to stay high and then drop but never mind. I knew the way past Denominate Tarn and round Haystacks so I pushed on without thinking about water. Before the top of High Crag I had run dry. Oops. What looked like a nice ridge run to High Stile is of course more demanding than it appears and I was desperate for the descent to Bleaberry tarn and the search for water.
Tony heading down for water
I could hear it but not get at it, the stream was underground. I stopped 3 times in vain before the stream emerged and I was in luck. The run round and down to Ling Comb was not good- steep, deep heather and boulders. By the time I hit the lower path I had doubts about having time to collect the high pointer to the SW of Crummock Water. One scary thing about the RAB is that if you are 30 mins late you lose ALL your points. That would be far to depressing so I turned for Buttermere. I ignored the lure of the ice creams and jogged up beside the stream.  I then bottled it. I should have continued along to Whiteless Breast to collect points but instead turned towards the overnight camp and an easy run. I finished 30 minutes early and rather cross with myself and guilty for not running to the end of my time. When I downloaded I was second on the long score- well that was clearly not going to last! It was not long before I was second lady to Heather and Andrea and falling down the places as elites like Steve B collect 500 points!!!!
Albert and Tony relaxing
I spotted Bob and found he was already camped, along with Albert, Mark, Stewart, Julie, Darren, Elaine. It wasn't long before we were joined by Tony and Steve. A real orienteering and Lancashire corner. After a mug of tea and some food I strolled the field to find the Preston Harriers and the Calder Valley/ Tod people. It was a gorgeous evening and I happily wandered for ages chatting to people. Chris V came across and it was good to see him upbeat and running well. As the sun started to drop I sat cooking and eating ( I might not eat much during the day but like to make up for it when I stop). Bob was deep in discussion with Darren and planning his events for his 70th year, mainly his Munros.  Suddenly around 9 I was tired and went to bed early. I had to get up before 11 for a wee but it was well worth it as the stars were amazing - so bright and so many. I had been worried about being cold overnight and had even contemplated packing my heavier sleeping bag. I am so glad I did not. Before long I had put the silk liner to one side, taken off my socks and stripped off one top layer. The wind kept me awake but I never seem to sleep well in a tent now, must be getting old.
Those of us on the long score had to start between 7 and 8 in the morning so I was up bright and early. All those around me were on the short course and had an extra hour to lie in. It did not take long to pack and decamp- on my own and in the dry this is a slick process now. I had studied the map and tried to plan where  would go. This was possibly a mistake as I headed north on the valley floor when it probably wasn't the best option. Day 2 was tricky and I don't think anyone found it easy to pick a route that logically collected points in the same way as day 1. As I flogged up the valley below Whiteside and no fast runners came past I sort of knew I had made a mistake. Oh well I was committed now. The top of Sand Hill was windy but not cold. The control with big points to the north looked too big a drop and I didn't want to hang around in the wind. I suspect I should have stayed on the grassy tops and run to Grasmoor but I headed for Grisedale Pike. I used a tiny deer trod to avoid the summit- it was a bit dodgy in places but I survived. The control was easy but the drop afterwards to Coledale Beck was steep and in deep bracken. I was so relieved to reach the bottom that I shot off along the track up to  the old mine works. It would probably have been better to have gone towards Barrow.  I had a lovely time scrambling up by the waterfall and had seen nobody close up for over an hour.  By contrast the sheepfold below Eel Crag was busy and so was Outerside. Sail Pass looked high and far but it took less than ten minutes and I then had a lovely run down to Sail Beck. At this point I realised I would not have time to collect the two high pointers and headed back towards the finish.  The sheepfold in Rigg Beck was fine but the flog up through thigh deep heather was tough and I was battle scarred by the time I reached Rowling End. As I ran back up Causey Pike I met almost all my fellow campers coming the other way. I had an hour - plenty of time to get the control over near barrow but there were no others to get so yet again I was back early, and again Heather and Andrea beat me by 20 points. I had a chat with Richard and then Martin at the finish before ambling down the lane to download. Bob had just finished so we collected food and went to lay on the lawn in the sun. It was sociable and pleasant.
2nd Lady/ 1st Supervet (ie old)
The prize giving  showed it was a day for vets and orienteers. SROC did well with Tony first vet on short score, The Wilsons first generation team on short score and me 2nd lady/ first supervet on the long score. By late afternoon it was time to escape down the motorway and pray that the sunshine kept people off the M6. A grand weekend and worth missing doing an ultra for.

1 comment:

  1. congratulations Karen!
    Sunshine and bIue skies again. I am sure the RAB/Dark & White folks Have a pact with the Devil.