Friday 26/07/2013 - evening
MAF Pace Jog
0:31, 300' (3.0 miles)
Three easy miles around Nesscliffe. A loop round the very outside of the school field is 400m, useful for future reference...
Sunday 28/07/2013 - morning
2:37, 1,650' (11.0 miles)
The Gritstone Tryal is a navigation event run by Ian Ankers of Staffordshire Moorlands AC. The format is simple - you're given a map with numbered checkpoints marked on it when you arrive and have up to an hour to decide how to get round the checkpoints (in order). The event then commences with a mass start. Zoe and I thought we had plenty of time to sort the route out, but in reality I was still marking my map up with ten minutes to go.
|Event map - my mark-up in blue|
We selected the better line for leg 2 but ruined it with some poor execution, losing the indistinct ROW and being drawn too far round the valley. We came out on the minor road instead of a slightly more major one, I forgot the road width coding on the map and we turned the wrong way to compound the initial error. I thus ended up doing the tough bit of my intended line (first half) and the tough bit of the other line (second half). Never mind.
Leg 3 was predominately across fields with three shallow valleys to cross. The first sunken lane we used was atrocious, boggy and rough under 3' high reeds. We then had to duck under trees for the next 200m and climb a fence where there was no sign of a stile (near Well Springs Farm). The uphill section to Colshaw was fine, although we use the field adjacent to the sunken lane as it was a lot easier going. We had to be careful across fields near Colshaw not to get drawn off our line by the sight of many other competitors over to our right who'd chosen a hiller but possibly slightly shorter line crossing the valleys a little further downstream. Our next valley crossing was gained by some desperate descending through another scrubby wood with little sign of the ROW on the ground. We found the footbrige OK though and the climb up the next field wasn't too bad. There was no ROW signing after Brand Top and nothing on the ground - a descent on a grassy spur gave onto 250m of hideous bog with neck high reeds: fortunately I found a way through on flattened sections to the final stream crossing. I did manage to get my head up on the way down and had noticed a nice newly mown hayfield roughly where the right hand option was for the final climb to CP3, so we cut across to that leaving some other competitors labouring on much rougher ground and reached CP3 ahead of a few folk.
The leg to CP4 was obvious and very runnable and we put in a good effort here past the HSE fire testing grounds at Turncliff. There were several burnt out tube carriages over to our left at one point. We also passed Stanley Moor Reservoir. This large rectangular structure was built over underlying material honeycombed by solution holes and caverns and was decommissioned about ten years ago under the supervision of one of my colleagues. The works removed a large wedge of the dam on the east side and used the material to partly fill the impoundment, creating a series of wildlfe pools. CP4 was another manned checkpoint - Ian had driven out here from the event centre to do the honours.
I'd looked carefully at the leg to CP5 and come up with an option which was about 3 km, mostly on trails. There was a road option which was nearly 4 km but it meant running 2 km along the busy A53 and a less obvious approach to CP5 itself across rough ground so I'd decided there was no advantage in it. Zoe hadn't trained at all while she was in Uganda and she suffered up the climb to the A54, feeling sick and with jelly legs. We slowed right down and I told her not to worry, she'd feel better in a bit. She forced herself to run most of the section over Axe Edge Moor, but we lost about 5 places on this leg. The checkpoint itself was easily found and we had a welcome cup of water there.
I'd decided to take a direct line from CP5 to CP6 across the moor but after 200m I could tell Zoe was really struggling so we cut back to the fence all our competitors were following and went down that until we were level with a small knoll on the right which was obvious on the map. As the others went straight on on a more circuitous route, Zoe and I took a bearing (which conveniently coincided with Shining Tor, clearly visible to the west) and we walked across rough moorland nearly 1 km and dropped in 50m north of the checkpoint exactly as planned. This meant we'd overtooken all of the guys who'd passed us on the way from CP4, so I was pretty pleased with the leg.
We had a cunning plan for leg 7 too. The more obvious routes used rights of way across farmland between Blackclough and Knotbury, but they looked navigationally complex, so I'd come up with a line to the west, using a byway which would lead up to the road and thence the checkpoint. As a further refinement we could cut a corner where the track zigzagged down a steep hill and save another 200m. The plan worked perfectly and by CP7 we'd shaken off everyone following except Jackie Keasley from Helsby RC.
Leg 8 was straightforward up over Wolf Edge and down to a checkpoint on the last wall before Flash vilalage. Even so we lost half our lead ovr Jackie as Zoe and I both missed a stile on our right near the top of the climb and had to backtrack 20m.
We clipped at CP8 and just had 400m of road running in to the finish, where we found to our surprise that Zoe had won a bottle of wine for finishing 2nd lady! Although the running was pretty comfortable for me I did feel myself getting into it around CP5 and feeling fairly strong.
A good morning out, great views, a good nav challenge and a decent long run for us both - thank you to Ian and all your helpers.