By Rick Ansell
Having badgered Paul T into doing the virtual MapRunF series during the spring and not actually done any of them myself, he was probably wondering if I was going to turn up to do this ‘real’ event as well. After a fairly disastrous leg on the Greensand where I was late for the start and almost missed the finish, had to stop to adjust a shoe which was giving me a blister and to have my pre-race pee mid-race, I really just wanted to go and hide in a very dark place where nobody would find me. Anyway, Paul seemed quite surprised to find us in Ashbourne Market Square shovelling down fish and chips.
We had found a campsite about a mile from the race start conveniently situated behind a fine pub in the Manifold Valley. The name always makes be think of noisy exhaust pipes but is actually a very tranquil spot, though the Manifold itself was completely waterless.
Paul is a Scout Master and so of course had his tent up in seconds and he went off to recce the area while I struggled with mine and then tried to check up the WhatsApp to see if Team Athenians had powered through to make the finish. I was pleased to see that despite my attempts at sabotage the team had made it to Northill in good order. Well done Athenians!!
Paul returned and we repaired to the pub. It had been a hot run and much rehydration was needed.
The race next day started from Warslow village and had a mixture of open access areas and farmland where we had to stick to footpaths and deal with cows and, as Paul put it delicately, ‘their recycling of grass’. The map showed a nice straight line of connected paths that led via two 40 and a 30 point to 60 point control at the south end of the map. It shouldn’t have taken me much more than an hour to get there giving me two hours to work my way back and collect as many more points as possible. Most people, though seemed to be setting off in the opposite direction running down through the field where we had parked, to the Manifold Valley. I decided that they must be right and so went that way only to regret it when I found myself having to haul my way up the other side to the trig pint on Ecton Hill.
The trig point was worth 50 points, though and there was a 70 pointer on the next hill and another 50 plus some lower score controls so I began to think I was doing alright despite some back and forths and having to ask Sunday walkers where I was. I had mopped up all the open access area so now it was decision time. There was still 90 minutes left and that would give me time to do a little loop round the fields and back along the edge of the Valley to collect another 80. I was very aware that I was still on the wrong side of the Valley for the finish and inevitably there would be a big climb back from the bottom. This would need time.
For once time seemed to slow down and after crossing the valley I had time to take in another 30 before the run in. I got back feeling really rather pleased with myself. I felt I had collected all the low hanging fruit so to speak. I was soon disabused though when I discovered the first V60 had scored 70 more points than me and I was well down the rankings. I really should have gone out to that 60 to start with.
Paul who had started before me was still not back. He was obviously taking the opportunity to get to know the area a bit better. The organizer was just beginning to get anxious when his red shirt appeared round the side of the hall. Paul’s route, if you looked at in on Strava might suggest a person retuning from the pub. He assured us this was not a result of the several pints of Pedigree he had consumed the night before but a cunning tactic to avoid going up or down a hill. I think he hasn’t quite grasped the concept of fell running yet…To be fair he had actually scored a lot more points than me…Just a shame he lost 85 of them for being late.
He had clocked himself as having run over 14 miles, the furthest he had ever done and 3.15 was the longest time he had ever spent running at one time. I think being within the 3 hour time limit would also have given him his longest run, though….There aren’t many people who would choose to break their distance record over that sort of country. Respect.
1 Mark Anderson 580 points
40 Rick Ansell 390
61 Paul Terret 335