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Race Reports [Reports Index]

Rab Mini Mountain Marathon
Sunday 30th August 2015

After a thorough baptism of fire (thanks Scott) into the joys and challenges of fellrunning I decided to challenge my legs and my brain with a navigational race. I chose the Rab Mini Mountain Marathon, round three of four (there is one more at the end of November in the Peaks - www.minimountainmarathon.co.uk

For those not familiar with the format you have a set amount of time, four hours in this case, to study a map, plan a route picking up as many checkpoints as possible and then complete this route. Go over the allowed time and you will lose an increasing amount of the points you earned with your checkpoints.

After the most relaxed start I’ve ever gone through (‘Actually, shall we have a cuppa first?’) due to the wide starting window Pete (Nelson) and I spent about ten minutes choosing our checkpoints and plotting a route complete with an estimated halfway point, where we could add or drop checkpoints depending on our progress.

The first two hours took us straight up and over Skiddaw (amazing what you can do when are thinking about navigation and checkpoints rather than your burning calves!), via Carsleddam and an uphill slog over waist high heather. If you haven’t tried swimming through heather you haven’t lived! The climb on to Carlside and up to Skiddaw was much easier and followed by a fast descent over the rocky top of Skiddaw to Bakestall. The perfect weather threatened to slow us down as unlike other times on Skiddaw, the view was brilliant!

Descending Dead Crags we slowed down considerably (steep and tussocky downhills don’t suit me) before hitting the Cumbria Way – a relatively flat path which we would follow back round to the car park at Latrigg. By this point I was experiencing my first proper ‘bonk’ which was particularly unpleasant given that we were as far as we could be from the start and were against the clock to get back. This was our halfway point and we did drop a checkpoint on Little Calva to ensure that we got back in time. White-faced and woozy (me, not Pete!) we did a bit more heather bashing to pick up a checkpoint under Great Calva before following the Cumbria Way all the way back to the start. From the car park at Latrigg we did the last two miles downhill on tarmac to ‘dib in’ in a time of 4.01.34 with 248 points.

I would strongly recommend this format of race to anyone wanting to try something a bit different – the navigation isn’t as precise as orienteering and it can be as hard or easy as you like You can aim to steam around every single checkpoint or set an easy course for just a few and you can enter as a pair or an individual. . I really enjoyed it and have come away with a good list of techniques to work on for next time. If you want to try something closer to home, West Anglian Orienteering Club are organising an event at Wimpole in October…

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