Today I managed to do the Gill Harris Challenge on the Long Mynd, despite some pretty dire weather for the last three hours. My total time was 5 hours 42 minutes, solo and without support. The distance was 21.3 miles and there was 4,910' of climbing.
Most of the route I took is on the previous recce posts:
Church Stretton to Shooting Box
Minton Hill and Round Hill (from the Portway)
Shooting Box to Haddon Hill
Haddon Hill to Stanyeld
The start was almost dark, so I took the Burway Road up to the cattle grid and then headed up the borad shoulder to Burway Hill (16 minutes). From Burway Hill I headed round the top of Townbrook Valley - slow going with a strong wind - and then up to the summit of Yearlet (20 minutes from Burway Hill). A short run round to Ashlet in improving light (7 mins) was followed by a descent which went exactly as planned down a re-entrant and into the valley between Ashlet and Yearlet.
From Callow, I took a bearing to find the top of the gully on the east face. This leads steeply down to Callow Hollow at the bottom of Sleekstonebank Hollow. Another wonderful spur leads up the right hand side of the gully to the col between Minton Hill and Packetstone Hill, which is easily reached slightly further south (26 mins).
I was starting to feel a bit tired here, and the rain wasn't helping. I was encouraged on the way up to Pole Bank by running past a couple of guys on mountain bikes whilst eating the rest of my chocolate bar. One of them kindly took my picture at the top (16 minutes from Round Hill).
I did well controlling pace and mostly sticking to my schedule (5h 45mins) through the very hilly first part of the route. The middle section along the main ridge of the Long Mynd was much harder than I expected, probably because of the exposure to the wind, and the increasingly heavy rain. From Haddon Hill, I moved better (helps that this bit is mostly downhill) and warmed up again. The final ascents of Novers Hill and particularly Bodbury Hill were hard, done at a trudge! I managed to free up and run to the end from there. Overall I'm pretty pleased with today's effort given the strong winds early on stopped me running some of the flatter bits, and also the effect of the rain.
I think I'd maybe do 20 minutes or so faster in summer. If I was strong enough to do all the big hills at the end instead of the start there would be quite a bit more time to save by going anti-clockwise. That way the descents would all be runnable and the ascents much steeper and shorter on the valleys section of the route, which should save more time.
The split times were as follows:
07:11 The Square
07:27 (0:16) Burway Hill
07:47 (0:20) Yearlet
07:54 (0:07) Ashlet
08:20 (0:26) Grindle
08:24 (0:04) Nills
08:36 (0:12) Callow
09:02 (0:26) Packetstone Hill
09:10 (0:08) Shooter's Knoll
09:42 (0:32) Knolls
10:09 (0:27) Minton Hill
10:29 (0:20) Round Hill
10:45 (0:16) Pole Bank
10:55 (0:10) Long Synalds
11:03 (0:08) Shooting Box
11:10 (0:07) Wild Moor
11:21 (0:11) Calf Ridge
11:29 (0:08) Haddon Hill
11:40 (0:11) Gill Harris Finger Post
11:48 (0:08) Plush Hill
11:57 (0:09) Castle Hill
12:15 (0:18) Novers Hill
12:35 (0:20) Bodbury Hill
12:42 (0:06) Stanyeld
12:53 (0:12) The Square
I had a great day out despite the poor weather, and would highly recommend this challenge to anyone looking for a step up to some of the longer distance routes.
Totals for this week (with several days spent recovering from the Cannock Trigs race) are 27.5 miles and 5,580' of ascent. The four week running total drops back a bit on the mileage front to 112.7 miles (down 1.8) but the climbing improves to 16,620' (up 430')