Today the first race of the 2018 Series. The run up to the event was tough. Recceing in difficult conditions and also setting out controls on the Saturday before the race was let's call it interesting. The wind chill on the tops was huge and the snow deep.
But race day.....race day was the most beautiful day I have ever seen in the mountains.
Imagine snow white tops with a blue sky overlooking a lower level landscape with different kinds of green/brown colours and the sea in the background. Some of the pictures looked like they were straight from the Himalayas or the Alps. Pure white mountains towering behind the competitors. Luckily we had some competitors taking photos as unfortunately Steve Wilson our event photographer couldn't make it due to a family emergency - luckily his son is alright!
The race went very well - amazing what some people can do in four hours when it takes 4x that to set out the controls. And as usual the cakes and soup made the day! A great start of the year. Up to April
Mid December last year Janneke and I went to do our final Recce for the race in North Wales. It is our first race in Wales and it is nice to go to another area of the British Mountains. We like these recce weekends and make them into a mini outing. This was the only weekend we had left to recce just before Christmas and with myself being a lot in the US for work. So we couldn't really plan for a good weather weekend, we just had to go. And the weather was interesting to say the least. It started with reasonable weather in the valley, but higher up we ended up in the deep snow with gale force winds, very, very cold. Traversing a mountain on snow was an experience. Good we brought our micro spikes, we didn't want to glide down a gully. The area is beautiful though, very wild, very remote although it is actually very close to Bangor and easy to access. The area is one of the highest mountain areas in the UK after the Scottish Highlands and part of the Snowdonia national park. Looking forward to February, to race day!
Last weekend it was race weekend again! Always nice after the holiday period and a bit of a break to organise a race again. As it was a bank holiday, not sure about the traffic getting to the Lakes, but it wasn't too bad. We were staying at Rydall Hall in one of those shepherd huts, very nice. Janneke and I set out controls on Saturday. What a nice day. Sunshine this time. Unfortunately race day was very different, wet and windy. It looked more like winter than summer. We organised the registration in the Ambleside Parish Centre, a nice building. We were in the basement in the play area, which was interesting - moving pool tables, table tennis, etc. out of the way to get a decent set up for registration. And there was a church service going on upstairs for the morning. Despite the rain the runners seemed to have had a good time. Most came back smiling, although very wet. The area is beautiful and specially on the East very runnable. Always interesting to hear the route choices that people make. Anyway a really great day and up to our last race of the year in November.
Yesterday we went to do our final recce of the April race. I have announced the location today, so can now talk about the location - Glenridding with wainwrights like Helvellyn and Great Dodd.
Alison went two weeks ago - unfortunately the weather was absolutely awful.
We had stunning weather yesterday. Icy cold, but beautiful sunshine and clear skies.
Micro spikes were needed as the snow was very hard and the footpath very icy. We saw a pair going up a long snow field with no crampons or micro spikes and nearly falling down - that would have been a long slide down!!
The area is amazing and we can't wait to show you. Glenridding is a nice little village on the banks of Ullswater with some nice restaurants and shops if you decide to stay a bit longer on Sunday afternoon. Anyway up to April, up to Spring and hopefully the weather will be kind for race day again!
We always really look forward to this evening race. It is literally on our doorstep. Both our families live in Thorpe, which is about a mile from Dovedale and the Old Dog, the registration, is our local. We know Martin and his family well and we are always very grateful he lets us use his pub. We do recce although we know the area very well. But even we discover even after organising this race for four years, still new check point areas to cover. Runners coming to the White Peaks always think that it will be easy. And yes there a good, runnable footpaths, but the Dovedale area is pretty steep and the altitude covered soon builds up. Also a two hour race as opposed to four hours race is quite short and quickly you find yourself running against the clock. This year was phenomenal. We had three people finishing the course, collection all controls, two which even well within the two hours. And the weather was beautiful as well. It was such a nice evening!
The second race of the series from Glenridding in the Helvellyn area was fantastic. We were so luck with the weather, although as you can see there was some mist on the tops. Steve Wilson from Granddayoutphotography commented that it had been a while since he was out on the fells in decent weather. And this of course after the beautiful (but cold) day we had in Wales in February. There was some snow and ice left on the tops which made some parts of the event area tricky. There were also many, many different route choices. Neil Talbott won the race again and literally explored all areas of the map. How he does it, no idea! We treat these race weekends as nice family outings. Both our families were nearly fully present, although kids away for uni and working abroad starts making that a bit more difficult. After setting controls, there is always the traditional pre race dinner, which is always very nice and good fun. And then the hard, but rewarding work on race day with the kids earning some money to support their student lives.
2018! We are now in our 4th year of organising the Kong Mini Mountain Marathons. As you probably know we do these purely as a hobby and not for financial gain! By recceing, setting out controls and collecting them in again, we get our own fell running and navigation practice in and we really enjoy race days with all of you enjoying the races and the food and the race chatter afterwards. Also great to be able to get the whole family involved.
We are now only a week away from the first race in North Wales. Organising a race in Wales has been a bit different. We have joined the Welsh FRA for example to get their support and run the race under their regulations. We also have to build up a new following of people in Wales to complement our regulars.
The soup and cakes are in the making. That is always a lot of work for Janneke and Alison. We have had our planning sessions on who is doing what on the day. The maps are in, the SportIdent equipment is coming on Wednesday - we are ready for the first race of the 2018 series! See you then!
This weekend we have been to the Lakes to Recce. This is besides race weekend, our favourite part of organising the Mini Mountain Marathons. You get to have a nice recce weekend in a different part of the Lakes or North Wales every time. This time back to Ambleside, always a nice place to stay. Two days of recceing. For the last two races we had awful weather recceing - vertical rain or blizzards. This time however it was 22 degrees and sunny. We did get some thunderstorms in the afternoon, but only got wet on the Sunday. The area for the race is beautiful as many areas in the Lakes. The views up high are stunning and the mountains look very impressive. Saturday was a very runnable day, today a bit more tricky terrain and lots and lots of walls. Recceing is not just validating spots for check points, but also making sure the routes to the checkpoints are possible and don't go over walls and fences that are not crossable. We also had to identify where to best cross the roads in the area. All in all a brilliant weekend and we are looking forward to the race in August!