Monday, 27 October 2014


It would be my 4th MM of the year and my second paired effort with Rowena as usual. We had both been to the Cheviots before for Phoenix events and me for the RAB in 2012 so we knew roughly what to expect. We also knew the weather was unlikely to be good - it is the end of October after all.
The weather played havoc with our plans even before the start. Bob and I were hoping to stay north and go to Scotland to complete more of his Munro challenge. There seemed little point in the storms that were happening and forecast to continue. He in the meantime had volunteered to marshal at the OMM and I arranged to leave work early so that we could be there by late afternoon. unfortunately Rowena was stuck in Lancaster until much later. We met up late evening and kicked Bob out of the van to his tent. A favour I owe him. We slept well and even had a lie in. A quick trip outside had us doubting the idea of shorts and so we made a quick change before heading off to the start. A jog up the valley road warmed us up. The map was interesting- well no, actually it was rubbish. A 1:25,000 shrunk to 1:40,000 did not work plus the print was slightly blurred anyway. It made reading contours and fine detail impossible. I opted to keep my map out of the plastic bag as adding another layer made reading it even worse. Unfortunately some joker decided to laminate one side of the map? What I would have given for a Harvey's map on standard waterproof paper.
Finishing with dreams of soup and a cup of tea
Rowena and opted to carry our old Phoenix maps with us but decided my RAB map was based just a little too far north to be useful. I don't think we ran the best route on leg 1 but getting into the map and all the grassy paths that were not on the map was our excuse. It did mean we ran past Bob and could shout hello. The we got hot climbing the final ridge before this control and took our cags off... for the last time that day.  Within 20 minutes it was raining and they were back on.The next leg went well both in planning and executing it. True we had to jump off the path to avoid being mown down by a speeding lorry full of logs but we survived. The next leg was less good. Initially we failed to find the path we wanted out of the forest and so had to run further round the forest track to find another then we made a stupid mistake and shot off into the next forest on a ride about 700m before the one we needed. This was perhaps the low point of the day as we stumbled along rides that were tussocks and totally un-runnable. We got there in the end but had lost lots of time. We tried to run hard on the next leg to make up what we could and fortunately the wind and drizzle were on our backs. This would perhaps have been the trickiest control in bad weather but was easy today. Once on Shieldcleugh Edge we had a great run on a boggy path down to the Breamish valley and the next two controls passed without incident. We should have understood by now that paths were good and open fell was bad- except when you find all the little trods and paths that are not marked. Our route to 7 was not great but we made it worse with some fence confusion. We added about 2km and some climb. Oops. I have got used to doing MMs solo and we were not really back in paired mode as well as we could be.  The photographer at 7 looked frozen but cheerful. I must check their website and buy one! From there to the finish was uneventful and it was a relief to see the campsite. It had not been a great run but we finished in one piece and still friends.  We searched for a spot to camp and before long gave up the idea of a sheltered spot and just opted for an edge near a wall. The wind was fierce and being funnelled up the valley onto the SW facing slope. We got the tent up and climbed in just as the next shower came through. We had a rest before worrying about water. After several bouts of refuelling and chilling we were ready for a trip out. We had all our gear on including over trousers and cags.  We met friends in the barn and looked at the results boards. Some teams were still finishing and I really felt for them after so many hours out and still having to put up tents, cook etc.  It was a stormy night and although the tent stayed put it did flap lots and we got little sleep.
Our published start time was 8.20 and we certainly had not made the chasing start. We had a lie in. With all packed we went to join the toilet queue only to find it was barely moving and our time was running out. We abandoned and went to the start to be told all the times had been put back 10 mins? Why, by who and why were we not told? (apparently it was on the splits printout- but as we knew we did not bother to read it). It was so wet and windy waiting that we almost put our over trousers back on. Our route to control 1 was like back to yesterdays 7 in reverse. In fact a quick glance at the map showed a disappointingly similar route but in reverse. Clockwise horseshoe on day 1 and anticlockwise on day 2. I know an overnight in College Valley would have been more work for the organisers but I feel it would have made better use of the map and terrain. We had learned our lesson and on leg 2 opted for paths and higher ground even though it was a detour. The long leg was done with no mishap. The next leg we had no option but to straight line it. AS bad weather routes were the order of the day we skipped 4 and 5. The route to 6 did not seem obvious. We decided to avoid a climb over Bloodybush Edge but then did not chose the best route through the forest. At least we ended up on fast tracks but we did add distance. Looking at the map now I can see better options! To 7 we stuck to the high path, again a detour but good running. I silently waved to Bob down in a deep valley at a sheepfold. The remainder was basically day 1 in reverse with a slight variation towards the road. We were back and happier with our running and routes today. After soup and water we shot off to change out of damp clothes. Nobody directed us to download and it would have been easy to forget with the dibber buried under clothing. We wandered back to download and food in dry clothing. We met Tony and Albert  as we queued for food so Rowena was able to organise her lift home. We swapped tales and moaned about the food and total lack of tea! Bring back Wilfs and endless refills. The hotel wanted £1 which would have sort have been OK if we had thought to have any money with us. The pie was luke-warm and I did enjoy my 8 chips. No, the food was not what was needed to refuel tired runners and if it had been really cold and wet there would have been an issue with where to sit and eat. Chatting with Alice we were made aware of more issues to moan about- no female prizes at all? No cascading of prizes to spread the winnings? We retired to the van for a cup of tea. I took down Bob tent from Friday night and packed gear away in the van. The car park field slowly emptied and I made another brew and read. Then I had a nap. I woke to find it was quite dark. Hmm I had not thought about Bob collecting controls in once he could leave his station at 3pm. I guessed it would take him about 3 hours to collect all the controls and walk back, especially in the dark and with a big sack plus a bag of Si gear. I wasn't worried and then the OMM man appeared at the van. Had I seen Bob. Err, no not yet. There was no mobile signal at all and this year marshalls had no radios to save money, so I sat and waited. I did suggest that perhaps as he had a lift along the road on at am it would have been nice to have the same offer on Sun evening. Dave, the OMM man, and Mountain Rescue drove out to meet Bob. He was fine but could not find one path in the dark and did not want to wade the river before a walk back along the road. In the end Dave and he did wade and were soon back by vehicle. It was late by the time we left but at least we got the van off the muddy field with no problems. The A69 was closed due to an accident so we came back along the wall. It was almost 11pm when we arrived home. To late and too tired to empty the van; instead we fell into bed.

Clearly did not leave enough on the hill!
A good weekend with great company. However, next year I will be poorer and if I have to cut down from 4 MMs it could be the OMM that is axed. There were too many negatives that seem to be penny pinching yet it is not cheap to enter. I enjoyed my run and Rowena's company. It was good to see friends albeit briefly and all the volunteers were very friendly. Plus we completed and did not get injured.

1 comment:

  1. Crikey, from your write up it sounds as you say quite negative and a challenge.
    I'm sure I would struggle with the map if they were all as you described - by the way which class were you doing?