Monday, 3 October 2011

Gorilla in the Mist - Cerebral Failure at Ian Hodgson Mountain Relay.

I'd been looking forward to this race for quite a while. After all the route and team changes I was paired with Noel on the Hartsop-Kirkstone leg. After camping in the lakes on the Friday night I enjoyed a good recce of the route on Saturday morning - thankfully getting back to the car as the day reached its hottest.
High Street, Thornthwaite Crag and Grey Crag (fore) from The Knott.
I'd been struggling all week with a cold but had just managed to kick it by Sunday. However the after effects showed as Noel strode away above Hayeswater towards the Knott - I was expecting us to be a lot closer together here. Once on the top I perked up a little and we were running well together - we'd passed about 5 teams by High Street, with only Staffs Moorlands passing us and a Bingley team (who started just behind us) still there. We missed the easier slope off Thornthwaite Crag but that didn't lose us too much time. Heading towards our attackpoint (wall junction) for the tricky tarn on Caudale Moor (especially tricky since the clag was down) I made a point of saying we should take a few seconds to check our bearings before finally attacking the control. We reached the wall junction and Bingley went right (North) when straight on (just south of West) was correct. For a reason unbeknownst to me I scotched rational thinking, went into race mode and followed Bingley. What followed was a 4 minute mistake compounded with another 4 minute mistake when we were within a stones-throw of the tarn checkpoint.
Where it all went Pete Tonge... my GPS trace in Quickroute. The southern tip of the tarn is the checkpoint.
A - Wall Junction. As you can see west is best, straight is great etc. etc.
B - I've had the nagging feeling for a while, but now it's confirmed - something's wrong, very wrong.
C - We find what could be a cairn but aren't too sure. It could also be the one to the east - looking back at this, this is a very daft assumption to make as there's no wall in sight!
D - Relocate off the wall but can't confirm our exact position. Howgill Harriers run past on way to control, join them.
E - Going south, very wrong. Find the wall, all is now painfully clear. Stagger bag up the hill as Glossopdale go sailing down. Cock.

Reach the Tarn as about 20 more teams do. Swear. Punch it and run like bloody murder for the last 12 mins of the leg.

I have to apologise to my team-mates: my partner Noel - due to last minute changes he was relying on me to know what I was doing; Dave and Ian on leg 1 who set us off in 18th; Steve and Dave who we handed over to in 21st with no discernible pack to work with; Darren and Dave on last leg who put in a good time, as well as all mammals who are capable of lone thought and don't just follow!

I can't blame anything else apart from allowing myself to lose my cool and reasoning. I don't mind losing time when on my own, but when it impacts on a your team's result it's quite sickening. 8 minutes is more than I lost on my big mistake on Creag Mhic on the classic distance at the Scottish Six Days. I wasn't the only one to make a mistake - A former GB junior orienteer lost about 15mins between High Street and Thornthwaite Crag for a team involved in the podium shootout.

What really rankles is that in my last 3 O relays I've always maintained or bettered the position in which I was sent out. You live and learn, and needless to say I won't be following anyone else again in a race if they're not doing what my plan says I should be doing!

To finish on a better note, the Mixed team (Lucy, Edie, Muir, Paul, Steph, Claire, Adam and Daz) had a really good run, only being pipped by Bingley's superstar team by 7 seconds after Adam and Daz took time out of the best descender in the business on the last leg.
Adam and Daz just behind Bingley, finishing in 13th place.
Looking forward to the FRA Relays!


  1. I'd give you some sympathy, but as you let Glossopdale go past, maybe I should shake you by the hand next time I see you....

    As they say, trust yourself, and ignore everyone else.

  2. watching the blue and orange shoot past and knowing that Macc would also be ahead having overhauled them up High Street was pretty galling - however our split from the tarn to the finish was at least 2mins quicker than Glossop's! ;)

  3. We were always just behind you on the climb up to High Street, our aim was to keep you in sight, but we lost sight of you on the way to the Beacon.
    Bad luck, you were def going well and we had no chance of over taking you.
    We were glad to see the clag down on the tops, with us living locally ;-)

    Stu (eden runners)