Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rivington 26.2 Recce Run

Darwen Tower
The Montane Ultratrail 26.2 Rivington is our next big race.  It's actually part of our training for the Great Lakeland Three Day Race at the start of May.  The Rivington Race is a trail marathon and our aim at this point is completion.  We're a bit behind distance wise due to my knee injury and a bit of impetuousness by Jonathan.  Hopefully we will get up to near 20 miles a few weeks before the event and then taper off in the last few weeks.

The Great Lakeland Three Day Race (GL3D) is something a bit different.  There are three levels to choose from, Elite is approx 30 miles per day, A is approx 25 and B is approx 20 miles per day.  There are three aspects which excite and scare me at the same time.  The first is the three days of running.  We have been trying to do some back to back runs.  The day before our run today I had completed a tough 15 mile fell run.  Jonathan did a 10 mile road race the day after (I only managed a little walk).

The second challenge will be camping out and being mostly self-sufficient over the three days.  Competitors are allowed a 59L dry bag to store all their kit including tent, sleeping bag, food, Nurofen etc.  It gets transported between the campsites.  We're planning to do some two day runs with wild camps inbetween, probably after the Rivington event is out of the way.

Finally is navigation.  I'm getting pretty good, as long as I can see.  I do get a bit lost at times but can find my way back.  I need to practice navigation in cloud or when it is dark.  Jonathan hasn't really done much of this at all and so needs to practice because we're likely to separate out over the three days and he needs to be able to find his own way.

So today was a visit to Darwen for a run around part of the course of the Rivington race.  Unlike the Grizedale race, which consisted of two loops crossing over in the middle, the Rivington course didn't have a natural cross over point.  I plotted a route around the top part of the course, starting at Darwen.  I estimated it to be about 13 miles but about three of those were there to join up the course.

Green line shows the top section of the Rivington course.  The red line is our route.

and again, notice our three mile warm up loop before joining the actual course!

Darwen Tower ahead.  The point where we would try to
pick up the Rivington course.
I had found a car park near to the top part of the course.  Once parked up and ready, we headed along a track until we saw Darwen Tower up on top of the moor.

We headed along the side of a reservoir to the tower.

The Ultratrail 26 races have very good logbooks, point by point directions.  They are published on the website and with these, along with the map, it really is hard to get lost.  It's very clear when you are on the right course.

Somehow, we managed to take a wrong turn from Darwen Tower, the very first point that we joined the course.  Maybe it was because we ran up to the top of the tower and back down.  My theory is that running down the spiral steps confused my internal gps and we set off north instead of west.  We looped around, adding approximately three miles to the intended route and then headed off in the right direction.  They all count those miles!

The part of the course we ran on was really nice.  Definitely easier going than the Grizedale Event.  The trail was overall smoother and seemed like it was less hilly.  We ran on the northern section which will be the middle portion of the race route.  We basically followed the route from the tower around to an area called White Coppice where we left the course and crossed the moor, going over Great Hill.  We did take one wrong turn which can be seen on the map above.  This was down to us turning left too soon.  It was our error, the directions were clear enough.  We soon got back on track.

crossing the weir between Rake Brook and Roddlesworth Resevoirs

good trail

The route was a mix of forest/wood trails, some road sections and footpaths.  Further around, on the part we did not run on, it looks like it crosses moorland and there is a big hill (Winter Hill) near the start of the course.  I was a bit sad to leave the course at White Coppice, I felt like I was just getting into the swing of it but it looked like the most sensible place to cross over the moor.  We followed Dean Black Brook east, using it as a handrail feature, until we saw an obvious path a few hundred metres across the moorland and then climbed along a wall to the path.  

following Dean Black Brook

yes you are allowed to sit down on a recce run
After having a sit down and something to eat at an old ruin, we continued up to the top of Great Hill.  This is the central point of this part of the moor.  We could see over to Winter Hill, easily identifiable by the numerous windmills and other masts on it.  

Winter Hill looks like it will be the high point of the course.  Thankfully, it is right at the start of the course and looks like a nice run down the other side.

The run up to Great Hill was very nice, a good gradient, runnable but not easy.  This would be a great training ground.  We had a chat to people on the top where there is a cross shelter.  It was unusual for me to have to check the map to tell people where we had been.  I pointed semi-confidently to Darwen as our start point but had to look at the map to remember White Coppice.

nice track up to Great Hill

Winter Hill

shelter at the top of Great Hill

The run down from Great Hill should have been an easy, soft grassy descent.  Unfortunately today the ground was frozen solid - making for some ankle tweaking clods of mud and grass.  It was very hard going and we were both glad to get to the road.

At the road I gave Jonathan the option of re-joining the course for the last few miles back to the tower or heading straight back to the car.  He opted for the latter option so we headed more or less straight across the road, through a park area and over another road to get back on the track to the car.

down to the road from Great Hill - ouchy!

The last mile or so was on smooth track, downhill.  I really got into my stride and enjoyed it.  It was good to finish strong.  Jonathan was keen to go for an immediate pint but I vetoed this and insisted we went for the curry we had been promising ourselves for the last 16 miles.  Jonathan foolishly filled up on salted peanuts on the way there meaning that a plate and a half was all he could eat at an all you can eat curry house.  I polished off a good three plates and slept it off on the way home while Jonathan drove.  Thanks mate!

aw yeah, I'm happy!

the face says it all!
This was a really good day.  A recce run is really helpful on all sorts of levels.  Things that I took away were ideas such as taking a pencil to mark off the sections as they are done.  I was constantly re-finding where we were in the log book.  It was good to get an idea of how long the drive was, what the terrain was like etc.  It was also good to practice using the log book and map.

I'm not convinced that I picked the best recce route.  We didn't get to run an awful lot of the actual course.  A better route might be from the start round to Darwen Tower and then back over the moor via Great Hill and Winter Hill.  Any recce route on this course is going to involve cutting across unless you take two cars or go out and back.

The event is in about three weeks time.  I'm looking forward to it.  We might even have to have an all you can eat rematch.  Watch this space.

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