Thursday, 9 November 2017

Peak Raid Totley Nov 2017

I was  a little more prepared for this one - in that the alarm went off and I got up, had breakfast and went... as opposed to being woken by Lynne 45 mins before the start saying "were you going to do that race....?) so, bonus there.
The area around Totley is not all that familar to me. The fact that there are a number of bogs, lots of reed and rushes and an awful lot of turks heads is well known, so the going underfoot was going to be a little challenging, especially when still on the way back from injury. The idea of the day was to have fun, enjoy the nav, and maybe to put myself under a bit of pressure. If I lost points because I was late, that wasn't an issue. There is nothing riding on this race, it is a time for experience.

The day was bright and cold, and although all the more experienced orienteers tend to start later in the time period, I decided that I'd start earlier, get some time on the hill by myself and not follow other people around. Start time was about 8:30, and off I set into the sharp, cold air.

Somewhat excitingly, my navigation started off terribly. The first checkpoint was bang where I thought it was going to be - but unfortunately I had a bit of a crisis of confidence about 30 metres away from it, turned round, ran back where I came from for about 5 mins before telling myself I was an idiot, and then going back and finding the CP in exactly the place where I thought it was going to be. Lack of confidence and a little bit of inaccuracy as well. Ah well, thats 5 minutes down the drain, nevermind. Crack on.

So far the terrain had been track, track, turks heads, bog, turks heads, bog. So in order to give my legs a bit of a rest, I tried to make the next bit as smooth as possible by following some trods.
No such luck into the bombhole of my next CP. No, no turks heads, but instead heather, heather, reeds, river, reeds, heather.
Great, no rest for the wicked then.

By this time there were a number of others out on the course, and we battled through the heather to the nearest path to get down south on the Clockwise round that we had put ourselves on. There was a fairly decent path right over to within about 400m of the next CP, and once that track ended it was again, bog, bog, reeds, knee deep water and a fight through some bracken before getting to the sheepfold.
So far, so good. No-one was following me, I had a decent amount of time left, and my nav was getting me to the right places. The next CP was going to be a little more fun as it was "on the edge of the wood" with no real identifying features to attack it from, so a bit of accuracy and cunning was called for. Not only that, but it was across the way, through what can only really be described as a sea of heather.
Bash Bash Bash. Through another boggy river and a load of reeds, and through the trees I can see the kite. Marvellous. Punch, and onward over more heather until a lovely path going towards the next CP. Across to my left were a herd of deer running away from some brightly clad runners on the other bank, and I wondered if I'd see them later. (I didn't).

Up to the boundary stone, dib, and then a bit of a complex one to find my nemesis - "small re-entrant". I really hate these things. It took a while with me furtling about in various places, losing a good few minutes. To be honest at some points I was really confused about where I was, and now looking back on it, I was really too far north and didn't take note of the several changes in contours around me (and the big stones that should have been a clue....).

From there, Northwards and then west to the next obvious one in the sequence, and then North again along some really runnable paths - feeling good picking up the one between 2 boulders, and north again, taking some fun and complex paths in order to stay within the rules - not running on the road where it was hashed out.
2 hours gone. 1 hour left.
Choice time - go a long way out for a 50 pointer with the prospect of another couple on the way back, or go safe for a 40 pointer, but which takes me pretty much into a dead end (all the other points near it had been got...)

Now is the time to learn. Go big.
I set off to the other side of the map from the race HQ and as I was running there I was thinking "this is probably not going to work... run faster". It took an age to get to the vicinity of the CP and another age to find the damn thing. I must have lost another 5 mins rooting around in heather and rocks for it and nearly gave up. It was another of those which if you found direct, would have been fine... but faffing and having to find and re-find locations to get to it really ate into my time.

Got it. 30 mins to go. 8km direct to get home. This could be tight.... especially as direct wasn't going to be a possibility, and there were a lot of workarounds to do.
Knocking back a gel and some bloks I headed for home as fast as I could (which after 2.5 hours was not all that fast). At one point I worked out I needed to do an 18min 5k to get back in time, which wasn't going to happen. Eventually I got back 10 mins late, so a penalty of 175 points.
54th ish.
Had I played it safe and gone with the 40 pointer at that crux I would have been joint 9th. If I got there with enough time and I could have gone for one of the others a bit closer to home I might even have come 8th or 7th.
Ah well. Experience in the bank. Good to know.

It was a 30km day as well, with 900m of ascent, so a decent day out by any standards. Fabulous.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Glove choices 2017/18

Yes, my hands are still quite nesh. However, I have reduced my vast pile of gloves to only a few that are in regular service, and this gets refined still further for winter use.
Generally speaking mitts are now my main choice for warmth, so nothing with fingers really gets a look in. If you have warm hands in gloves, I envy you. If you don't - read this.


My general rule is to have a warm layer and a waterproof layer (obvious, no?). With any luck, the warm layer is also windproof, and the waterproof layer is even more so. For running they need to be as light as possible, but this does mean some level of fragility if you're heading up over rocks and scrambly bits.

Running - Warm layer

From last winter I have been using Montane Prism mitts. They are ridiculously lightweight and pack down so small I sometimes think I've forgotten them. They see regular use throughout the year and are now beginning to show some signs of wear. As they are a synthetic insulation, holes in the fabric shouldn't mean they leak much (as a down glove would). When they get wet, and the wind is blowing, without an extra waterproof layer on top, I do find that the temperature in my hands gets lower...
That's the size of em.

small - but warm. (mine are the old style with no touch screen snazzy bits like the new ones)
The other thing that is a bit annoying about these is that even though I have small hands, and I have a size S, getting your hands INTO the damn things is a bit of a pain. The wrist restriction is very tight indeed- great for not letting anything into your hands, but an annoyance to get them on. As you can see, my pair are beginning to "go" at the wrist closures.
Oooohh - beginning to go at the seam. (what a rubbish picture)
The Super-prism mitts are out and about now, but they're heavier. As a solution, they are pretty neat, but once they get wet, that's it. I'd rather have the versatility of 2 gloves which are equally light.

Running - Waterproof layer

Extremities tuff-bags. Made of Goretex paclite, these are as waterproof as you're going to find. Also, even without an inner layer, the amount of wind that they cut means they are a decent warm layer on their own. No - there is no insulation, but the palm is ever-so-slightly re-inforced.
These, added on over the Prisms, or indeed, any other glove or mitt really make a massive amount of difference to hand warmth and dexterity (once the gloves are off). I'm onto my second pair of these, not because I have worn any of them out yet, but because I was an idiot and lost a pair at a race.
Blinking brilliant mitts.

Tuff Bags - with a decent palm grip

Tuff bags - with a good closure around the wrist as well. The gauntlet is long and also has an elasticated cuff.

Walking/rescue - Warm layer

Considering that I'm probably going to put these through a lot more abuse than the running mitts ever get, these mitts have to be proper solid and (hopefully) unbreakable. Considering that these Montane Extreme mitts are still going 4 years later shows that they are made of stern stuff. No they are not waterproof, and the insulation is pile, but wow, they are solid and dependable. The inners to the Waterproof outerlayer of the Montane resolutes are made of the same insulation, but without the solid palm material. Both of them get used as insulation layers, but often as not, the Resolute outers get deployed over whatever else I am wearing.
The thing I love about the extreme mitts is you can "carry" them like this

The fluffy inside of the resolute mitt. (the palm on the extreme is like this, whereas the back is Primaloft)
My extremes are going on the thumb...

Walking/rescue- Waterproof layer

My Montane resolutes are getting a little long in the tooth - and are unfortunately no longer made. You can see the material over the thumbs is getting worn a significant amount so "waterproof" might be overstating things a little too much at the moment. The palm is rock solid, and for the most part, these are indeed waterproof. Should I buy another pair? Well... I really only need a pair of the waterproof shells - and luckily enough, Montane make a pair. Not eVent any more - they have a deal with Gore now, so there is a set of shells in Proshell - the Endurance Pro-mitt. Expensive... but lovely.  Mountain Equipment also did much the same thing, but I can't see it in their current range - Extremities also do something much the same - the Guide tuff bag - oooh, choices.
delamination? de- something-ing on the thumb of my Resolute mitts.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Peak Raid - Hayfield. 2017

Ah, I'm getting back into the swing of things again now. Rehab is continuing and I thought that a nice nav event might be a good idea. No fixed distance, the ability to bail at any time and no-one really to race against. This had the added bonus of not being a million miles away, and also on relatively local stomping grounds.

The course may or may not have been altered because of Storm Brian (I think it was a shorter course than originally planned), and I cleared the whole course, which was nice. This is really a bit of an aide memoire for me as to what happened and how it went.
Aside from getting up late and having a bit of a fraught time getting over there - certainly not my normal calm self from the get go, I thought it went ok.

The start was at Bowden Bridge carpark, so a bit of a distance from Race HQ - the warm up jog was quite welcome, considering the longest I have been on my feet running in the past few months has been 45 mins. This could be interesting.
From the start it was a short run back down the road and a hook through the campsite to CP11.
Then a nice run back up the final part of the Mount Famine fell race where I spent a lovely 5 mins searching in totally the wrong place for 12. Having got the brain fart out of the way, got back on track with Pennine Jims words ringing in my ears "what are you doing up there?!" I ran on to get 12, and up to 13.
To get to 6 a number of runners were contouring around under the Dragons back. Yes, there was a lovely trod there, but at the end of the trod was a fence which on the map is a purple bar, so *technically* not one you can cross. To stay within the rules I headed up over the Dragons back and down onto the main path to hit 6 in good time.
On the way over there I passed Matt Huxford who very nearly sent me the wrong way with some light-hearted "banter"... but when I'm in nav mode I tend to be very doubting of my own abilities...managed to keep it right though.

From 6 to 15 there was some amazing bog/heather/turks heads to bash across for a long time if you wanted to. Or. You could go along the flags for a way, hang a left and bash straight down 400m to the CP. Best to save the legs from large amounts of rough ground. I chose ohms law and took the line of least resistance.
14 to 5 was a bearing, and went without hitch, and again, 5 to 10 was pretty much straight lining it through heather to find big paths up to the 3 knolls. No problem.

10 down to 9 was again a bearing. By this time there were people overtaking me and I was trying not to follow their lines. The bearing was taken and I headed a lot lower than those that had overtaken. Turns out I got a better line as they got to where they thought it was, and then had to shufty back round to where I was heading to.

9 to 8 could have been taken by a direct and very heather bashing line through 4 streams. I saved my legs and took the paths. Slightly longer, but much easier and more runnable. No idea if it saved me time, but it certainly saved me effort.
8 to 7 was a direct path, as was 7 to 4 and 3.
3 to 2 was a horrible bash. No decent paths, a lot of up and knee high + heather. If there was a better line I have no idea where it was. Those that were moving fast, I suspect, were just good at moving fast over very rough ground. By now I'd been out for 2 hours and I was getting tired. My line was terrible, but I got there, and then the line to 1 wasn't too bad. Also helped John Stephenson out as well as he was walking past the CP.

The final push off the hill was past 20 trees, and relatively straight forward, and there was tea and biscuits at the end.
8th overall in 2:22 and 5th in class. I'll take that. 

AND I was allowed to wear my number on my shorts. Nice.
Thanks to the guys at Peak Raid and Accelerate.