This has been a chaotic year for us, and with one thing and another I hadn’t got to do a single mountain marathon all year. Since we usually do at least four, that’s quite a change! I got a last minute entry to the Rab Mountain Marathon (thanks Adrian), and since Rachel wasn’t so keen, opted for a solo entry.
This year the Rab had a great event centre at Newlands Adventure Centre, and the start was at the foot of Catbells. I opted for the long course, so had seven hours the first day, and six the second to collect as many points as possible. Watching a slow-moving line of “runners” heading straight up Catbells, I instead opted to start with a fast path run around the edge of the hill past Little Town, then over a ridge into Little Dale, and on to Hindscarth Edge. This part of the route was clearly unpopular – I didn’t see another runner for about an hour. After that I rejoined the crowds for a couple of controls above Honister Pass before dropping down to the pass and up to Grey Knotts and a group of five controls around Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks.
I’ve never been along the ridge on the South of Buttermere (featuring the famous Innominate Tarn) before, so it was nice to run along there, especially given the gorgeous sunshine and clear views. Unfortunately, the steep and rocky descent to Scarth Gap, followed by the two very steep climbs up High Crag really did me in, so I wasn’t very fast along the ridge. From there, my chosen route dropped down towards Buttermere for a few more controls, and then up Rannerdale Knotts before a fast descent down Rannerdale to the finish. I ended 17 seconds late, so lost one point!
Day Two was just as sunny as Day One, although windier on the tops. The controls were mostly North of Newlands Pass this day, and I started with a poorly judged steep climb through waist-deep heather to the summit of Grasmoor, followed by Hopegill Head and a steep descent into Hope Beck. From there I headed East to a control below Grisedale Pike and then over the ridge into Coledale. All of this was quite slow because of the tall vegetation – much harder than the good running on Day One, so I was far behind my planned schedule and had to change my plans for the second half of the day, collecting a bunch of controls near the finish rather than heading back to the Southern half of the course. I ended up finishing 40 minutes early having run out of points to collect.
I was 10th on Day One, and 11th on Day Two, but somehow that worked out to Eighth overall – not too bad considering I haven’t done a mountain marathon since October, and haven’t managed nearly as many long runs as in previous summers. However, there’s clearly room for improvement – I could barely stand up at the finish, and struggled to walk the morning after!