Sunday, September 11, 2011

My First Solo Navigation Event...

and I was pleased with the result.

Conditions were not brilliant but they were much better than the forecast - and much better than last weeks Snowdon race. There were a few strong gusts and intermittant rain. Some heavy. Some less so. Within the first hour everything was soaked through but it wasn't cold and the decision to wear the gortex was spot on. I was hot in the first half hour but then, in the winds, it kept me at just about the right temperature. Not too hot. Not too cold. I felt comfortable all the way. Anyway, to the race.

I was determined to finish. My time? well I didn't care. I wanted to get round. That was my goal. I was prepared to give up time checking the map in order to get the navigation correct and minimise any cock-ups. This was my first true test of navigation. It was time to put all my 'I'm good at navigation' bragging to the test. Being my first attempt I obviously picked the full distance - in for a penny...

I set off steady. Checking my location and picking what I believed was the best route for me. It was time to live my mantra of 'mimimise the ascent and contour, contour, contour'.  I hit checkpoint one OK. I was a little off after the major climb but not actually too far from the right spot. I did better round to two although I did curve round slightly too much and lost a little time on what would have been the perfect route. Then came the longer traverse to three. I got a little confused with the map being a version I'm not used to and had to take a little time to pinpoint my position. That done, I selected my route and stuck to it. With hindsight I don't think I took the best line but neither do I think it cost me too much. Then came the long stage.

The trek to checkpoint four was the longest by far and I took a somewhat wildly different to everyone else. Difficult to describe but I was on my own. Me, the map, the compass and my belief - and believed... Despite feeling a bit odd running against the tide of runners near the checkpoint I still believe I had a good route.

The climb out of the valley and across to six was - for want of a better word - a right bastard and I was beginning to tire. The river crossing was even worse, not to mention a little scary - and believe it or not it does take quite a bit to scare me - but with the water above my waist and flowing pretty fiercly I was glad to reach the opposite bank. The final climb to the tarn and the checkpoint wasn't too bad - mind you, by then I was going much slower - and even more steady.

The final two checkpoints, seven and eight, were fairly short but as I climbed up from the tarn I was all for giving the organiser a slap. Once at the summit - the final summit thankfully - the drop to seven, eight and the finish were ticked off in relative short order. Never has it been more a pleasure to finish.

For those that spotted no mention of checkpoint five - well done, award yourself five point. Due to the weather the course was reduced to the 'bad weather course' meaning it missed out checkpoint five and went straight to six. The 'as the crow flies distance' was 15.5 miles. In all I reckon to have covered quite a bit more than that but not in a bad way as I think for the most part my route planning was pretty good.

I can't finish without putting a massive thank you to Pat's parents whose home we - that's Matthew and I - invaded on Saturday night. They put on a fantastic spread and my gift of a homemade cinnamon and raisin loaf seemed sadly lacking. They are topper people, absolute gold.

My finish position was 51st out of 120+ starters of what was a quality field. My time was 5 hours 16 minutes and I'm happy to report I kicked the ass of both Mat and Pat - just joking, not about beating them, that was true, but about the kicking of ass. We were all very closely packed and heading up there pair of them really made the weekend. Looking forward to my next one now I've started to prove my navigational boasting...