Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Walk In The Park - Part 2

Mid Camp
Mid-camp included the lodge (with log fire), portaloos, a cooking tent and the marquee which was heated by a gas burner which apparently had two settings, blast furnace and off, which led to an afternoon of jackets, hats and gloves being repeatedly put on and taken off. As more people arrived, there was much talk and eating of snack food going on and quite a few folk went off to nap until the food was served. I got chatting to a few different people, including Gary who seems to be doing a few of the same races as me next year. The supplied food was plentiful and tasted great, washed down with a cup of wine (great thinking from Bruce), and then it was time for some music and a couple of beers before heading back to Big Agnes and sleep. I managed not to die of hypothermia overnight but woke up early, went to the loo, then headed to the marquee for bacon rolls. Probably not ideal food to get ready for a day of fast-moving in the hills, but great-tasting all the same. Then it was time to strike the tent, pack up and get ready to go.

Day 2, Part 1 - 1:40000
Some fresh snow overnight and low cloud made for a tricky start to day 2 but we managed to pick up the first two controls without too much drama - we missed the next one by a good margin and lost some time having to double back to find it :( the next two were easy enough to find but involved a very steep descent and ascent (we could and possibly should have used less direct routes but where's the fun in that?) and then a nice wee run/walk back to the transition point to pick up the final map.

Day 2, Part 2 - 1:10000
Another short orienteering course which I think we handled reasonably well - the last control point was a little elusive at first, but we found it without losing too much time and set off for the finish. It was great to see the finish barrier, even better to hear a big shout from Polly who claims we looked like we'd just finished a "walk in the park" (which was sort of accurate since Bruce and I hadn't done a lot of actual running), and better yet to find out there was hot soup, rowies, and hot dogs available. Finding that I still had some dry clothes in my kit bag was another great bonus.

What a fun event. Well organised, fantastic location, friendly people, overall a great adventure. I really liked the feeling of choosing your own route, and loved the way that the different courses and start times meant that one minute you could feel completely alone, the next there could be any number of other competitors in sight heading in the same or completely different directions. From a personal performance point of view, I felt I was struggling for fitness which surprised me a bit. Navigation and route choices were OK but, with hindsight, could have been better so there's room for improvement.

If anyone's interested in kit, Big Agnes did a fine job but might be just too heavy if she had had to be carried. The Thermarest mat did its job and I slept comfortably enough - my old sleeping bag did OK but would be far too bulky and heavy to carry in a pack; possible replacements are being looked at - birthday present, anyone?. I spent the whole weekend (yes, the whole weekend) in tracksters (with shorts underneath in case the temperature improved - ever hopeful), a HH base layer top and my new favourite thing: a Rab Shadow Hoodie which I can see getting a lot of use until the sun returns in spring! Extra layers were piled on top for warmth or better waterproofing and it all worked pretty well at keeping me warm.

A huge thanks to Sean, Ali, and everybody else involved in organising the event - you all did a great job. Thanks also to Ian for the loan of his stuff - it was greatly appreciated. And thanks to Bruce for teaming up with this rookie, for his encouragement, his advice and help, for the lift to the event, and most of all for his company over the weekend.

What's next?
Well, a MM type event next year is still on the cards - favourite at the moment is the LAMM but that would be after a series of 3 ultras in 3 months! Ulp! I think I need to stop blogging and get back to training!

Please check the event web site for results, times, a link to some photos (much better than the ones I took), and the routegadget thing that I will update with our route as soon as I can!
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