Sunday, 23 January 2011

Kinder Trial - 22/01/2011

Yesterday I drove up to Hayfield for the Kinder Mountain Trial. This race is a little different, the objective being to visit a number of checkpoints (in no particular order) and then return to the start. This year there were twelve checkpoints, arranged on the rough slopes above Kinder Reservoir. Several of the checkpoints were below the western edges of the Kinder Plateau, including on in the stream just below Kinder Downfall.

I was given the map two minutes before my start time and at 10:17 I was off. I had decided to go clockwise, concentrating the checkpoints more towards the end when I'd be tired and need more encouragement, and giving a good runnable descent from K7 (my last checkpoint) to Bowden Bridge and back to the start/finish. This also had the benefit that K12, K9 and K4, which I thought would probably be hardest to find, would be my first three checkpoints.

K12 was straightforward with a big gaggle of trialists all heading in the same direction. The Snake Path would have saved a minute or two over my route via Bowden Bridge I think. From here there was lots of heather bashing to K9 and then K4 (local knowledge would have helped - apparently there's a path not marked on the map I could have used for path of the climb to K4). Anyway the nav worked and I found K4 just ahead of four other competitors, but with no guidance in the mist. The last misty section was across under Mill Hill to the Pennine Way path. From here on (sadly) it was clear enough to see where everyone was going and most of the checkpoints could be spotted from some distance away.

My plan from here was to follow the bottom of the western scarp of Kinder Scout, taking in K3, K6, K1 and K10. The traverse was rough, rocky and slippery from melting frost and I made pretty slow progress (as did most others). K1 (an island in the stream below Kinder Downfall) was quite low relative to this traverse and caught most people out to a degree, with some very steep descending required. I took a better line than some, starting to descend before the ground got really craggy.

From K10 it was a good runnable descent along the stream to K8 (although I tweaked both ankles high up and then fell just above the checkpoint - thank you to the unknown runner who slowed and asked if I was OK). The climb to K5 across a rough steep field wasn't too bad, and I found the checkpoint OK.  The next leg was about 1km to K2, gently downhill. I thought about staying high where the ground looked a bit better and hoping there'd be some kind of track down across the field, but went for the direct option - bad mistake. What had looked like a nice field from K6 was in fact a truly horrible boggy tussock grass half mile of hell. I felt cramp coming in the back of my thigh when I was most of the way across - fortunately it passed and didn't bother me again until I was eating soup after I finished!

From K2, the route to K11 and K7 was straightforward. I got to K7 at about 02:40 running time so pushed hard on the last two miles back to Hayfield to get inside my 3 hour "stretch" target (I'd been told not to expect to do more than 3 to 3.5 mph in my first mountain trial type event).

I made it round in 2 hours 55 minutes, considerably quicker than I had feared. This put me a surprisingly high 69th out of 152: I must be able to route plan and navigate better than I can run (certainly I notice two or three people who kept overtaking me). The route I took was 11.2 miles and included 2,520' of climbing over some really rough ground. Other folk had some interesting, possibly better, route variations, which are discussed towards the bottom of this page and on following posts on the Fellrunner forum. I've put my GPS track below:

I'm pretty satisfied with my time and particularly my placing (for a first go at a proper navigation event), although I always feel I could have done more running and less hiking after the event!

This week's totals are down a bit: I didn't go out on Sunday to top up the miles because I thought a recovery day or two would do me some good!!

This week: 20.6 miles, 4,750'. Last four weeks: 107.8 miles, 19,230' (down 4.9 miles, up 2,610').

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