Although i love fell running i have not competed in a fell race for years. I am a member of the local running club, Glossopdale harriers, but my work commitments limit the club runs i can participate in.
That said i thought i would give the Rab mini mountain marathon on Tintwstle moor a go today.
What is a mini mountain marathon?
Basically a Mini Mountain Marathon is a four hour event in one of the many beautiful mountain areas of the United Kingdom. The idea is to visit as many control points as possible within the four hour time limit. Each control point has a score, and generally the ones which are further away and more difficult to get at are worth more points. If you finish late, penalty points will be deducted.
A map with control points is provided just after the start. It is then important to plan your route well and of course navigate well using your compass. Route planning is as important as speed!
The event is primarily for fell and trail runners, though strong walkers also participate. Navigation skills are a must. As the control points can be visited in random order, everyone can make a route that fits with their ability.
Electronic dibbers are used to record the control points you have visited, you start when you like and a mass start is not necessary. This makes it more relaxed and interesting as you will only know what position you have achieved when everyone has finished.
The navigation element was the most important part of the day for me. Not speed or winning. Solely running over hills and moorland, with little but contour interpretation and the occasional handrailing of fences and trods to guide you from one checkpoint to another is difficult. I enjoy navigation and reading maps.
So how did i go on? Well, i tested my self by taking a long route and going for the harder/further controls north of Chew reservoir. This impacted on my finish time. I was forty five minutes over the four hours allowed. So my position compared to others was very poor.
The whole reason of today was to test my navigation skills (map and compass) whilst running and stressed. Running over hills and moorland on compass bearings, reading contours, ticking off features, judging distance is taxing. Though darn good fun! A low flying helicopter, mountain hares, grouse, a hovering hen harrier looking for lunch, mountain bikers and pockets of snow were just a few of the things i saw on my journey.
A highly recommended event, well organised and supported and most of all fun! I cannot speak highly enough of the team behind this. I will keep an eye out for future event in 2017.