RAB Mountain Marathon Day 2

My legs were still quite stiff but thankfully as I walked around camp a bit they didn't feel too bad. We were one of the last to start and decided to keep things really simple and avoid the stupid risks from the day before. The first control was a steepish climb to a control on Lingmoor Fell. Below is a photo of Steve on the ascent which had a nice track about half way up.

After reaching the first control the next one seemed pretty straight forward although in the end was a fairly tricky descent through a lot of bracken. At this stage I could feel that I was in for a good day as my legs were moving nicely. We decided to ignore the control heading west by Blake Rigg as we felt it was a lot of ascent for what would only be 20 points and we began to plot a route that we felt would be achievable and realistic.

The next control was just worth 5 points but was dead easy with a short amount of road running thrown in. Only thing of note was that at this point we were beginning to overtake loads of teams and as it happened we were catching up loads of teams throughout the rest of the day which is always a good feeling. As we were heading to the 5 point control there was a stream crossing but as our feet were already wet I just decided to plough straight through it rather than fannying about trying to find a crossing point.

The next control was a sharp ascent to begin with followed by some contouring into the control number 118. The navigation was dead easy as there were teams dotted about straight in front of us so was just a case of follow the leader. We both made a conscious effort to put the minimum of effort on the hills to save our legs as much as possible and this tactic seemed to pay dividends throughout the day. As we approached the control we both felt it was in the wrong place, but having looked at the map as I write this it was probably correct after all.

Upon leaving this control it was clear that all the teams around us were splitting in two directions. We decided to head SW for the 30 point control near Great Carrs and ignore the 15 point control further South which involved a similar amount of climb. With hindsight we probably had the time to do both, but would have involved an element of risk quite early on the stage so I still think we made the right decision.

Like most pairs we headed towards the control at an angle, mainly to avoid the crags if going direct. It was a very, very long ascent up the mountain and towards the end my legs were beginning to feel a bit tired. Thankfully it began to level out a bit and we hit a track and even managed to run any flat bits when the opportunity arose. Towards the top of the climb I had to put my cagoule on as it was noticeably chilly and was something I had to repeat several times later that day. In all the control took us 45mins to do with about 90% of it uphill.

Our next control was at Seathwaite Tarn and was again pretty straight forward. Although I'm not the fastest of descenders it was fairly runnable and we eventually hit a track running along the edge of the tarn. As we approached the control there were loads of people wandering around looking for it. Most people decided that the control had disappeared and moved on so thankfully we didn't really lose any time.

We then had what we planned to be our final significant ascent of the day leading to control 104 about half way up Dow Crag. This was the only control where we had any doubt regarding navigation, more so for Steve than myself. It was at this point that Steve was beginning to struggle a bit with the climb and started to lag behind a bit. I was still feeling pretty good so took the lead on the navigation as much as possible. As we hit the control two things became clear: 1) That most teams were doing the same control sequences as us, but the way the controls were positioned meant that even the slow running teams were likely to get similar points as the faster ones. We found this a bit annoying really as we knew we were putting in a lot of effort for little reward. 2) We were likely to reach the finish area with a fair bit of time remaining so it was at the back of our minds to see whether we could grab another 5 points just north of the finish. With hindsight perhaps we could have done something a bit different such as going north of Levers Water to get the 15 point control and loop round that way but again there was an element of risk and to be honest the possibility never really entered my mind. The other consideration was that Steve was tiring quite badly so it was best to play safe and get to the finish area as early as possible.

Beyond control 104 we finished the ascent of Dow Crag before a sharp descent the other side to Blind Tarn. The descent was so steep that and harsh on the ankles that I decided to slide down as much as possible on my backside as it was loads quicker. Eventually it became too rocky to do this so I just said to Steve that he should go ahead at his own pace then rest at the control until I caught him up a minute or so later. We now had exactly 90 minutes to get to the finish which was plenty of time and I was harbouring thoughts about getting the extra 5 points north of the finish which was looking like a real possibility. We continued the descent from the tarn down onto the Walna Scar Road where we were able to run at a fairly fast pace as most of it was gently downhill. Again Steve was flagging a bit in places but generally our pace was good. There was a small ascent just before the control before a mad descent down to near the finish. I said to Steve that if we get to the finish with anything more than 40 minutes left that we should attempt the extra 5 points. Steve being a better descender led the way and we got to the finish area with a full 45 minutes remaining.
Steve agreed that we should go for the extra 5 points but I could tell that he wasn't really keen and didn't have much to give. In some ways I felt like that I was being a real taskmaster for what was just a measley 5 points. Steve was really struggling to keep going so eventually I took his rucksack and carried it for him up the sharp ascent to the control. I just didn't want to get so near the control to then give it up because we didn't have enough time. Thankfully we got there with 24minutes remaining so I knew that we had plenty of time to get to the finish. I think this extra 5 points was worth it though just because it shows that we were able to push ourselves beyond what we thought were our limits.

In the end we finished with 12 minutes remaining and I soon as I crossed the line I walked a few metres back towards the event centre and felt like I was near collapse. I started to get pins and needles in my face and began to struggle walking in a straight line. The pins and needles then spread to my arms then into my torso. I think that simply I had pushed myself too hard and was suffering from a combination of cramp, dehydration, low blood sugar levels and exhaustion all rolled into one. About half way down the 1km walk back to the event centre I had to stop for 10 minutes to eat something (anything!) and drink a fair bit of water from the stream. Steve thankfully was feeling ok by now and looked after me well. It took a full 40 minutes for me to walk the 1km back downhill to Coniston. I then got my event centre meal and two large cups of tea and slowly but surely began to start feeling a lot better. The best analogy I can think of is when marathon runners see sight of the finish and then collapse just before crossing the line as the body just switches off. Thankfully I had crossed the finish line, but had nothing to give beyond that.

Overall it was a really pleasing day and we managed to finish 3rd out of 15 teams which was pleasing. The only downside was that teams that were best part of 40 minutes slower than us got the same number of points as us all bar the extra 5 we achieved, which I think reflected the lack of route choice. Overall we gained two positions on day 2 and finished in 7th overall out of 15. I'm fairly pleased really as had we not cocked up the route choice on day 1 we would have easily been in the top three and probably even better. We only intended this to be a training event in preparation for the OMM next month and we learnt a lot that we can take away from this event.

I thought it was clear that me and Steve worked well as a team and although we have very different strengths it worked out quite complimentary. I'm definitely the stronger in the first couple of hours which is not surprising really having come from a 10k background. Steve is by far the better descender (and had a better middle three hours on the first day) but I'm a bit better on the ascents overall. I also had a very strong second day which was pleasing as the one and only time I've done an event with the same time allowances before I hit the wall really badly after just 3hrs. I think this is the first time I've really been able to feel the benefit of my recent training. I can now go into the OMM with confidence. Interestingly my rucksack never felt heavy throughout the event which again is probably down to the recent mileage building up my overall strength.

The other positives I can take away from the event was that although I forgot my ankle brace I didn't twist it at all during the event which is a first for several years. It could be down to the new Innov8 shoes and probably partly down to the strength exercises I've been doing at home. The shoes themselves were really comfortable throughout and I think its fair to say that I'm a convert. As for the caffeine gels I took I thought that they were absolutely disgusting - extremely bitter with a bad aftertaste. If I'm going to take any gels in the future its going to be of the standard variety!

Its now two days after the event and my quads are like stone. I'm not even able to get down the stairs without sitting on my bum and sliding down! I have got a cross country race this weekend which I will probably still do but the chances of my being at the peak of my fitness are nil so may just take it easy. As a result I'm not intending to resume training this week.

Bring on the OMM!


  1. Well done, Lloyd, good result! Good that you can see a difference in your fitness already.
    I did have a chuckle though about you organising the meal, forgetting to buy sausages and leaving the bacon in the fridge, facing the prospect of offering starving athletes buns and onions!!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Spine Race - Some Stats (2012-2024) - Updated following 2024 race.

Ranger Ultras - High Peak 100k

Ranger Ultras Pennine Bridleway 270km