Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Paddy Buckley Support - legs 2 and 3 - and thoughts on timings.

I've supported legs 2 and 3 before. The first time was with Al. It was dark. I swore blind I'd never run leg 3 again. Then Jasmin asked me to help her on leg 3 last year, so I did.
Then Chris asked me if I'd do legs 2 and 3 with him this year. Not liking to let someone down, I said yes.
It was much the same as I remembered - dark, cold and windy on leg 2. (I wore waterproof trousers for running in for the first time since the Spine!), and leg 3 was a massive bog-fest followed by leg sapping climbs across the Moelwyns and Cnicht. All good fun.

Chris heading up Cnicht
This isn't really meant to be a record of the day out, but more of a couple of thoughts about the Paddy Buckley schedule, especially that of leg 3.
The attempts I have supported ended up being successful - a 23:18, 23:19 and an 18:33. The most notable thing about all of them was just how hard leg 3 was, both in terms of the physical movement and the mental game - but perhaps most importantly, the battle against the schedule.
To be fair to Al, he didn't have a schedule for each peak, but rather had a time when he wanted to be at road crossings. We were up by 30 mins when we left Capel Curig, but were about an hour down on the 23 hour schedule by the time we hit Aberglaslyn.
Yes, we moved slowly, yes it was dark, but what the heck happened?!

At the Mines
With Jasmin, it was hard, hard work. I don't know if we were keeping to the 18 hour schedule that was written down, but on analysis, she was only just hitting some of the splits that would have (theoretically) got her a 23 hour schedule.

With Chris, we started the leg 15 mins down on his 23 hour schedule, and we were up and down on it by varying amounts from 5 mins to 55 mins depending on the peak. Clearly, the schedule is not quite up to muster, so I sat down and geeked out on the times between each round and came up with the following conclusions.

Up siabod.
  • Moel Siabod climb - you're looking at about 1 hour for a 23 hour schedule. Maybe a little longer.
  • Siabod to clogwyn bwlch y maen is just over 20 mins.
  • clogwyn bwlch y maen to Carnedd y Cribiau is about 10.
  • Carnedd y Cribiau to Cerrig Cochion seems to be where it seems to all go wrong for the timings - on a 23 hour schedule it gives you 34 mins. On her 18 hour schedule, Jasmin did it in 30. Chris and Al were over 50 mins on this section. The next few sections are also quite a bit slower in practice than in theory...
  • Cerrig Cochion to Moel Merch is given as 13 mins - Jasmin - again on the 18 hour schedule nailed it in exactly that. Call it 15 for a 23 hour schedule.
  • Moel Meirch to Ysgafael Wen - 18 mins is given here. Jasmin did it in 19... Chris in 22 and Al in 29. (I suspect we were having navigational amusements at that point, considering the dark and fatigue, so call it about 23 mins to be safe).
  • Ysgfael Wen to Mynydd Llynnau'r Cwm is given as 4 mins. If you can do that in 4 mins, you probably haven't been trying. Chris and Jasmin both did it in 6, and Al was 14 - again, a night nav thing, I suspect. Call is 6-7 mins then.
  • Mynydd Llynnau'r Cwm to the unnamed peak is given as 7 on the 23 hour schedule- considering Jasmin hit it in 4, and both Chris and Al did it in 8, that seems to be there or thereabouts.
  • The next couple are ok, but the time from Allt Fawr to Foel Ddu- 30 mins on a 23 hour schedule took 42 for both Al and Chris (using different lines), and 28 for Jasmin.
  • The only other split of any issue may be Moelwyn Mawr to Cnicht - 23 hour schedule says 52mins. You might find yourself lagging a little behind that depending on just how deep you've had to go in order to keep up with the previous splits.

At the start. No. These photos are not in chronological order!
That's probably enough of the numbers and stats for the moment. Perhaps the only other things I would note are these:
doing leg 3 in the dark is bloody hard. If you're going to do it, recce it as much as possible and know exactly which lumps you are going to summit at to save wasting time looking for the right one.
In fact, do that, even if you are going to do it in the day time.

If you're going to support, yes, it's cool to do legs 2 and 3, but if you want to be the best supporter you possibly can, I'd suggest getting some shut-eye and being fully compus mentis for the leg - someone needs to be sharp for the bog navigation, and being tired does nothing to help with that.

If you want to know more about detailed times, spreadsheets and GPX's drop me a line. I tend to keep an eye on the comments sections of the blog.

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