Monday, 6 February 2012

My second Open 5 Win at Warcop - 2 weekends of fun in the snow!.

Me and Gus on Mt Famine - KT 2012
 2 Weekends ago I did my favourite January Fell Race, the Kinder Trial. Roughly 12 miles, Andy Howie likes to plan some interesting routes to navigate, pick his favourite landmarks on Kinder and leave at least one route choice decision that often decides the race. I knew I was on for a tough race as I had finished within a minute or so of Kirsty Bryan-Jones last year and the two of us were entered again. The Saturday was beautiful with blue sky and fresh snow on the ground. One of my favourite KTs to date I think! I was right about the race being on, with 2 checkpoints to go I saw Kirsty who started 10mins before me. I had decided to go up Mt Famine before dropping  into Dimpus Clough whereas Kirsty was doing the reverse. It was going to be a tight finish.....well until I navigated myself to the next checkpoint way too low, loosing quite a few mins in the process! Ah well, I made it back 5mins slower than Kirsty and finished in 2nd, winning a chocolate medal!
How to freeze your feet before you begin...don't forget your wellies!
 This weekend was the Open 5 at Warcop, North Pennines. Again the snow arrived the previous day and again, the snow stopped in time for the sun to come out on the Sunday! After getting some chilly feet en route to the start (teach me to forget my wellies) I put my dry bike shoes on and headed off on the MTB! I picked up a good few high pointers low down to start with, having a chat to Adam on the way to the second one, then rejoining him at the 5th one after a group of them had ridden past the control. Adam, Shelf and Andy proved to be good pace makers for the start of the MASSIVE climb! By the time it was hike a bike however I had lost some ground and so took the opportunity to shovel some midget gems into me. By the top the others were dots on the horizon ahead :-).
Shelf riding across the tops
 Over the tops was stunning! Riding (read sliding) down the hill was so much fun and I ended up like the guy in the below photo quite a few times, including that corner!
Crash Corner
At the next control I decided, fun as it had been, that I would be out for the full 5 hours if I continued across the tops so dropped down and picked up my final 4 bike controls back around the army base, pleased that my legs could still pick the pace up after their snow beating! I made it into transition in 3hrs 7mins so just over the planned 3hrs and didn't hang around so I would avoid getting cold. Looking at the run I made a rough plan, to get all the ones to the right of the transition area apart from one 15 pointer (leaving it in reserve for later) before heading up the not quite so massive but still noticeably big climb, traversing across to the hike a bike snow area from before then dropping down to pick up a 20, then 25 pointer and into the finish (with the possibility of picking up the 15 pointer on the way if by some miracle this left me any time). The plan was going very well until the big climb. I forced my legs to keep moving when they really didn't want to and passing a pair on the bike got the comment 'you look as wrecked as I do'.
I shuffled across the top picking up 2x 15pointers. At this point I had 45mins left which made the traverse seem realistic still...Nicola and Adam heading in the opposite direction also said it wasn't too bad going across there so I headed out of the stream intending to complete my planned route. 300m later on the path I decided it wasn't feasible at all! My legs were seriously giving up. I pretty much fell down the hill, then stumbled my way across the tussocks to pick up my reserve 15 pointer before digging deep to get over to the 25 pointer. I had 8minutes to get back from the 25 pointer which should really have been very easy, but in reality I got back with only a minute to spare, phew, it could have gone either way. This was a tough race to get right tactically as you could easily end up stuck on the wrong side of some OOB and running out of time, so glad I dropped below this instead of traversing over it!

By the end I had got all but 4 bike controls and all but 6 run controls, picking up 470 points, enough for my second Open 5 win :-) Clear by 40 points in the end I clearly had looked wrecked for a reason!

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