Race Report – Peak Raid MapRun Series

Race Report – Peak Raid MapRun Series

By Paul Terrett

It’s all Rick’s fault!

Back in the dark days of lockdown in February, Rick suggested I might enjoy trying some ‘Score Events’ as something to challenge me, with a combination of off-road running and lots of navigation.  So, I found myself signing-up for a series of four Peak Raid MapRun events, which use a GPS app on your phone to record your run.  The rules are simple – they send you a map by email, with 32 checkpoints marked on it, and the challenge is to visit as many as possible, by any route you choose, and return to the finish within two hours (with penalties for being late).

Bearing in mind that my running in recent years has been somewhat sporadic, due to injuries, and that my usual event is a 7-8 mile club run on a Wednesday, I could see that stepping-up to two hours, in the Peak District, was going to be a challenge.  And it was.

We were free to choose when we ran each event, as long as they were all completed between 1st April and 31st July, so I was constantly checking the 5-day forecast for not-too-wet and not-too-windy weekends.

The first event was at Monsal Head, starting on an abandoned railway line that is now used as a walking and cycling trail.  But any hopes of clocking-up the miles (and score) on a nice level track were quickly dashed, with my route climbing both sides of the valley, undulating thereafter and then returning twice more to river level.  But I got round, almost on my planned route, and only 1½ minutes late finishing.  Not bad for a first attempt.

Perhaps I should add that, by receiving the maps prior to the event, competitors have the opportunity to plan a route in the comfort of their own home – a luxury not available on a normal event in non-Covid times.  Having accepted that my running fitness wasn’t going to amount to much, I realised that I would have to concentrate on route planning and navigation.  For hours I studied the map provided, plus the equivalent OS and Harvey’s maps.  I even went on Google Street View and Google Earth to try and build a picture of the terrain.

Anyway, a few weeks later, I was heading back up the M1 to the second event, at Middleton-by-Youlgrave.  Another cool and sunny day and a lovely area in which to run.  Not quite as hilly as the first event; I really enjoyed this one and even finished 60 seconds within the time limit.  My route choice was slightly better this time, having learned from Monsal Head, and perhaps I was getting more used to the format.  Whatever, this was my best individual result, finishing 39th out of 208.

Middleton will also stick in my memory for the friendly lady that I started chatting to on the way back to my car, who popped into her cottage and reappeared with a can of chilled Coca Cola.  Perfect end to a great run!

The blurb for the third event stated that the first challenge would be to find the starting village, Rowarth, and they weren’t kidding.  Time pressure, and the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, meant I was running this after a week of heavy rain showers and wow, it was muddy.  It made the ‘S’ bends in Tring Park in winter look like a paved highway by comparison.  But the route was scenic, even if it was another hilly one.  Annoyingly I missed scoring at one checkpoint by about 20 yards when my phone ‘pinged’ for an incoming WhatsApp, rather than for arriving at a checkpoint.  Schoolboy error not to have assigned different ‘pings’ to each app.

The fourth and final event was based around Hollinsclough and was brutal.  The organisers had thoughtfully dropped several checkpoints on top of Chrome Hill, Hollins Hill and Parkhouse Hill – not surprisingly these didn’t feature in my planned route.  With the series deadline approaching, I found myself running this one with a cold (yes, a cold, not Covid) which certainly didn’t help my stamina, nor my tactical thinking.  Already behind schedule, I decided it would be a good idea to carry-on with my planned route (up yet another hill) rather than cutting back to the finish.  This cunning plan scored me just 40 additional points but lost me 90 points in time penalties – yet another lesson learnt !

So, four events in four months.  All hilly and all in beautiful countryside around the White Peak of Derbyshire and Staffordshire.  And unlike normal races, I hardly saw another runner in 8 hours of running.  I met a few in the car park at the start/finish but, apart from these, it was a practically solitary affair.

Given that race reports are traditionally written by the highest-placed Tring runner, I thought I should grasp what will probably be my only opportunity, simply because no one else from the club actually ran.  Not even Rick…

  1.             Mark Anderson           2,250 points

34              Paul Terrett                1,670 points

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