Sunday, 7 December 2014

A weekend in the Peak District

The group had spent some time trying to decide on a venue for the Runfurther end of year award celebration and AGM. Fortunately at the end of November two different organisations had decided to put on a mini mountain marathon within a short drive of each other. Even better, one was on the Saturday and one on the Sunday. Perfect as we could have our Runfurther do in Edale which would be nice and central and people could do at least one or even both events. Andy and Dick announced they were camping. Nick looked shocked, it was after all the end of November, and booked a B+B. We of course had the van. It was chilly but fine in Preston on Friday evening but by the time we reached Derbyshire it was not only very dark but also very very foggy. As we drove along Rushup Edge we missed the road down to Edale and only just caught sight of the car park as we passed it. At the sharp bend a car had crashed and it was relief that we turned there and then to Blue John cavern and parked. Phew. It was wet, windy and foggy all night but I slept well. Daylight did not bring a vast improvement but after a rapid breakfast we set off for Edale and registration.
It wasn't long before the rest of the Runfurther crew showed up. We were all hoping for fairly early starts so that we would have plenty of time to get organised at the pub. The mist was making people nervous but there seemed little point in dithering, except to take my cag off and then seconds later to put it back on again. A quick check of the map showed some rather spread CPs to the west and most along the ridge to the north. I decided to go west  so that I could have as much or little time on the ridge as I needed. Clearly this was unusual as in the first 90 odd minutes I did not see a soul. It also possibly wasn't the best choice as people I can usually beat got more points by going east. I do not regret it at all. I had a great time all alone and after almost getting cragbound on a waterfall I headed up towards Brown Knoll.
Cold but sunny 2008?
 I have been to Edale in the sun but my main memory of Brown Knoll is from the Edale Skyline Race in such bad weather that I was twice blown off my feet and then sat down and cried when I was cold, tired and covered in snow.

 My other memories are of a great day out as a family running over Ringing Roger and then reversing the skyline route to mam Tour and down to Edale. The boys loved the mud and it was laughter and shrieks of fun all day.

Today it was  a slow but steady compass bearing plus trying not to fall in any of the deeper bogs. At last the trig point came into view and I shot off downhill to find a tricky control on a stream junction. It was satisfying being totally alone and not messing it up. Although I would probably have moved faster with others to push me on I was enjoying myself. I trudged over tussocks to Jacobs Ladder and the next 20 minutes or so made me realise that this was slow and time was oozing away. At CP1 right on the western edge of the map I met my first competitor of the day. The next CP looked straightforward on the map and the nav did go OK. What the map did not make clear was the rocky and vertical descent to the actual Si box. I survived and headed back up to the main path. The next section would be mostly following the main path east and skipping off for controls. In the mist it was hard to keep a check on distance and landforms so I did make several small mistakes. The further east I went the more voices I heard. Luckily it pulled me into my next control and the kind mixed pair also swapped a map with me when they saw how badly mine was disintigrating. Runners were now coming towards me in packs! Hmm. They were running with confidence and speeding each other along. Ah well. I peered down to a CP I had considered but it would be a long slow rocky scramble and then a hard pull back uphill. Somehow running along the edge I had my thumb over the CP on Ringing Roger and so missed an easy 20 points. Time was ticking so after dropping to a wall corner I decided it was time to head back. Down out of the worst of the mist and on grassy slopes the running was faster and I had a wall to guide me. I hit two more CPs and started to traverse the hillside with the hope of a final 15 points. I was tiring and not sure I had time. I bottled it and got back with time to spare. 35 points missed, silly really. The hall was buzzing with runners refueling with siup, tea, coffee, bread and cake. We compared routes and "if onlys" and I waited for the others to reappear. A quick change in the van and we drove upto the pub.  Andy and Dick had tents to put up but Bob and I sat with a beer. Phase 1 of the weekend was over. No photos sadly as there were no views and the air was full of moisture.

Next up was the Runfurther AGM and awards.  The room was cosy and I hoped not too many extra runners would turn up, nice though it would be to see them. The meeting galloped along nicely. We were all willing to stand again, nobody else wanted to be nominated ot to end up with a job and few questions were raised.

With the business taken care of and thanks given to all runners who supported us and all those who gave sonsorship we moved onto the prizes.  Si Berry had tuened up with a box of spot prizes and there were so few in the room that everyone recieved something.

 Karen McD brought the wonderful Grand Slam hoodies for Emma and Nigel and between us we distributed all the prizes, trophies and certificates. Then there was just cake and a quiz. People drifted off home and Andy, Dick, Nick, John V, Bob and I were left. More beer and chat plus food. We sat talking for ages and probably drank more than was wise in preparation for an event the next day. It was good being able to simply fall out the pub and crawl into the van for sleep. Phase 2 complete.

We had a restless night but were up in good time to drive to Totley and the walk down to the cricket ground soon blew the cobwebs away. What a difference a day makes- blue skies today and viability for miles. We studied the map at registration but soon admitted we were just wasting time and we should get going.

There was a small group as we ran to the first CP but then suddenly we split. I headed round on a good path. A bit of a detour but fast running so maybe not so bad. The climb up out of the woods was a struggle and I had not really got going.

 A group of deer flew across the path and the woods were beautiful. After the road it was up onot the open moor and time for some decisions. I found a good trod and although muddy it was gentle enough to run. I made a small error near the next CP but soon corrected and was on my own for a while. The views were superb. I soon regretted heading straight for the trig point CP on the eastern edge of the map. The deep heather slowed me down and I was wishing I had gone back out to the path. A runner appeared form the corner of my eye- a local who knew there was a small trod by the ruined wall. It certainly helped. Heading north on a very muddy path I missed a turn and realsied I was almost at the road. Oh well, it was not OoB and would be easy running. A quick out and back to the most northerly control was fast and then I headed down the valley. About time as I seemed to have been going up for ages. After the river I headed downstream and then after the felled area went up to a huge boulder. Except in reality several were almost as big and I had in my head that the river valley went south. It meant I kept searching and not quite finding. I must have lost well over 5 minutes but in the end there it was. The next CP was a must at 70 points, the highest of the day! I knew the area vaguely from orienteering on the Longshaw Estate. I then dithered about the best way to start heading back. Simplest although not very satisfying was the road verge. I pushed on the best I could and even remembered to eat a gel. It worked enough to tempt me into trying to get the last 50 pointer. I kept checking my watch and hoping that I was not being greedy as at this event one second late means losing ALL your points. Even after the final hilltop the CP was further down the gully than I anticipated. I am so glad that it was downhill through the heather to reach the path. Downhill and heather I can manage. I made myself run hard and when I hit the lane I was sure I would be OK. I passed the van and raced across the grass to the pavillion. 4 minutes to spare and a good score. I was pleased with myself and enjoyed my tea and biscuits. The only female to beat me was Karen Poole. Result. It was good to chat to Tindersticks of Chorley and interesting how he is keen to do more events like this and improve his nav for fell running. I wandered back to the van, changed, ate, collected all the Runfurther flags from Dick and then started to worry where Bob was. He appeared, in a T shirt, after a good walk on the area. Phase 3 complete and a really good weekend. Next year we should see if we can do the series.

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