Saturday, 25 January 2014

Kinder Trial 2014

So after half a week of hacking about on Bleaklow putting out checkpoints for the Marmot Dark Mountains event, came Kinder Trial. A Navigation event around Kinder, put on by the indomitable Luvshack and the
The queue for registration
Rucksac club.
I was quietly hopeful of a pretty good place in this one, having come 3rd in the Festive Disorientation at the end of last year, however, this was not to be the case. Tiredness and a few nav errors ensured that I started dropping down the scoreboard pretty fast.
The first was (apparently) going the slow way around - anticlockwise. It has to be said that the vast majority of runners went clockwise, certainly all the guys at the sharp end of the scoreboard went clockwise. So maybe that's something to think about next time.

As I went up for the first checkpoint, storming up Elle bank and across the top, I managed to wander past it in full on daydream mode, and by the time I had been back to pick it up, I was already being passed by 2 Daves and Alan from Pennine. Not the greatest of starts.

I determined not to make any more silly errors, but was confounded almost immediately as I started out toward the next checkpoint, but looked up at Dimpus Clough, a different direction, where an awful lot of other people were heading... Check the map again, and there were 2 more controls that I hadn't even seen which now needed to be taken into consideration.
To be fair, I was swearing at the map for the entire way around. I don't know why, but I found it very difficult to take in exactly where each of the checkpoints was. I just couldn't get my head around it, and for some reason the map just felt a bit wrong. (we worked out later that although it was 1:25k, it had been blown up a bit, so the distances weren't quite what you expected, also, the checks were denoted by small dots, not circles, which makes them very hard to see when running, and getting blown about by the wind - still, its all excuses really).

The map. Hopefully zoomable....
I spent the next few checkpoints trading places with Dave Ward and Alan Kirk, me gaining time and positions, and then getting confused, and losing time and positions. It wasn't until we came off the back of Kinderlow Caverns that I decided to take a different line and go for a different checkpoint that I really found myself alone and enjoying it. No longer that feeling of following, or being followed.
However, the route I decided on was good in terms of directness, but not so on underfoot conditions. I crossed the 3 knolls to a checkpoint, and then had to bash across heather and energy sapping undergrowth to get to another one. Looking at the map, post race, there were better alternatives which would have made the running a lot faster, and the navigation a bit easier.
Still swearing generously at the map though.

Arriving at the end - pretty tired out. 
The navigational amusement aside, I carried on around to the final few checkpoints with not too much trouble, hitting them pretty much bang on, and not missing any out, as I had been in danger of doing earlier in the race.
Coming back off Kinder, the darkness of the clouds was looming in, which spurred me on my way
homeward. I knew I hadn't made excellent progress across the hill, and was pleasantly surprised with 16th place. Tom Brunt came in 1st, some 40 mins ahead of me, which is quite incredible. Had everything gone right, I'd have maybe been 5 or 6 mins faster, but 40? Not a chance.

Post race tactics conflab.
Always nice to know what others did.
Still a good day out on the hill, and I was very glad that I managed to get back before the rain. A number of the runners did indeed get caught, and ended up looking like drowned rats as they came in.

Thanks muchly to Luvshack for his continued efforts to make this fabulous race interesting and competitive. There is only so much you can do to keep the interest of runners when you run a nav race in the same place every year, but he still manages to pull some interesting things out of the bag.
Thanks also to the wonderful people that made soup and provided refreshments at the end. It was most appreciated.

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