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.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Losing faith in Suunto.

Disclaimer - I don't own a Suunto Spartan. I'm just angry for all those people that do. 

What are Suunto playing at?
I really have no idea.
my original ambit

The Spartan series was launched quite a while ago now. Summer 2016. At that time I was pretty impressed. Theoretically they should have been amazing watches. Lets face it. If they can take the Ambit series and improve on them, wow, the next generation of watches should be superb.
Yeah. In theory.

I've watched in dismay at the number of people that have shelled out ridiculous amounts of money for a Spartan to get what is pretty much a semi-functioning watch. We should have figured this was going to happen as it is what happened with the Ambit series, and just seems to be the way Suunto now operates with its GPS watches.
They make the watch and give it fairly rudimentary things, a shoddy operating system and a load of bugs and then just go straight to market with a really snazzy advertising campaign, pushing it with a load of high profile runners.
Lots of people buy the watch for nigh on £500 and then, for the next year or so essentially work as beta-testers for the company getting more and more frustrated by the fact the watch doesn't do what they bought it for.
What a time in the morning to be up... My Ambit Vertical

A friend bought an Ultra last year so that he could use it for the Dragons Back. Used it through the race and then a glitch meant that the entire week of running was lost from the memory. (Ok, so losing data is not a massive thing for some people... he still got to run the race and has the experience, but if I lost that amount of data, I'd be pretty pissed off).
Think about it. Spend that amount of cash on a watch, and you'd expect the thing to work, and work well. You don't expect to be a glorified tester for a company that doesn't seem to care about the details.

When the Ambit came out I was one of those that was less than impressed about the continual issues. When the Spartan came out I figured it would be a long time til the kinks were ironed out. With the latest upgrade as of October 2017 - more than a year after its original release, the Spartan range finally get things which the Ambit range has had for ages. People shouldn't be excited about the fact they *finally* have a countdown on their watch. That's ridiculous. It's barely creditable that Suunto didn't put one there in the first place. For that amount of money glitches should be few and far between, not a regular annoyance. I'm angry even though I never bought one!

My Ambit vertical still works, it's ok. There is currently no need to buy a new watch. However, when it decides to die on me, I suspect that my next watch will not be a Suunto - from the current crop, it would be far more likely to be a Garmin FR935. Hellishly expensive, but a product that works as you expect from the moment you get it out of the box.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

What no reviews?!

Speaking to a few people recently, they mentioned that I hadn't really posted all that much up recently, or indeed this year. Although I may not have done all that much in the way of racing (partially to do with me being a bit on the injured side and there is another blog about rehab coming out soon)... what about the reviews?

To be honest, I haven't actually got all that much new kit. The idea of writing stuff and testing it pretty much til it falls apart means that I have some rather excellent kit which seems to be holding up admirably, and although it has been used and battered beyond belief, it is still going strong.

The stuff that has broken has fallen by the wayside, and although it gets reviewed, they are lost in the mists of time.
Just sitting here and thinking about it, the kit I use for running at the moment is pretty much identical to that which I ran in the Spine Challenger a couple of years ago.
Waterproof- OMM Aether. Exactly the same one.
Waterproof bottoms - Montane eVent trousers - exactly the same pair.
Insulated top for winter- Berghaus hyper smock - exactly the same one
Shoes- either Mudclaws, x-talons or, if it's icey, OROCs (funnily enough - the same pair)
Gloves- those montane Prism mitts are still going!
Watch- still the Ambit... (though I wish I could afford a new Garmin (shock horror)
I have the same helly hansen, the same shorts, my SOL bag is always in every bag I take on the hill, and on longer days out, the OMM Adventure 20 (despite being VERY battered and worse for wear) still gets used.

Kit for the OCT this year

Yes, I have an Ultimate Direction pack, and a Salomon Sense3 pack which I somehow managed to pick up from a shop about to throw out their test stuff, and beyond that, the only thing I have spent any money on in terms of kit has been getting a couple of t-shirts and replacing worn out trainers.

A cold recce of leg 2 of the PB. Oh look. Same Jacket. Same bag. Same Buff.
There is no way I'm doing a review on a t-shirt. I mean come on. Use some common sense. Thankfully the current crop of in one year and out the other trainers have stayed as close to previous designs as in the past, so that is great.
The only unfortunate thing is that the OMM adventure 20 has been discontinued. I bought a brand new one a few weeks ago, ready for the current one to basically fall to pieces, so that gives me, oh, another 5 years to find a decent replacement. The current crop of "replacements" for the Adventure20 are not particularly worthy - mainly because of the zip top- which frankly I just don't trust.

Vert K this year. Shock horror- a "new" bag. Well. I've had it 3 years now.
So there you have it. No gear reviews because everything I'm using appears to be wearing exceptionally well. Not necessarily good news for the gear manufacturers as they aren't getting my cash because of breakages, but good in terms of the economics of my pocket.

I AM going to have to replace my waterproof top at some point soon though - and the new Aether Smock has some interesting looking things on it... INCLUDING an outside pocket (woop) which was the main thing that made it a disappointing jacket... I might just have to wait for it not to be somewhere north of £200 before I commit to it.
watch this space.