By Rick Ansell
When I finished the Ashridge Boundary Trail, I remember saying to someone, “That will be the last race for a while”. It was almost six months to the day until the next one, which I did last Sunday. The guys behind it have managed to get permission for a COVID secure series of events over the autumn: four three-hour score events in the Peak, the first one starting from Bamford.
Instead of having dibbers which might involve touching the control, we had to use an App on our phones. Running with a phone is anathema to me; I run to escape that digital world. In the days before, I was feeling stressed about the tech, but when I finally sat down to get it on the phone it proved very easy and, surprisingly for tech related things, it actually worked. I drove up in eager anticipation and found my usual car park for Saturday night full of people in camper vans. I squeezed in between them and got the back seats down.
When I sit down with a beer and a map and look at the spread of controls, a couple of relaxed minutes will show me an optimal route. Standing on the start line, however much I try to get myself calm and focused, when I first look at the map all I see is a jumble of controls with no pattern at all. I made my way slowly up the lane nose in the map, trying to decide where to go first and last and to then build a route from there.
An old lady I passed, carrying a couple of picnic chairs called out, “Are you all right dear, where are you trying to get to? I’m not surprised you are lost if you have come from Tring.” I know she was just being helpful, but I felt quite inclined to help place her chairs somewhere where the sun doesn’t shine. I didn’t actually know where I was trying to get to, that was the problem.
Eventually, decision made, I set off to gather three controls in the woods above Ladybower, before climbing onto the slopes of Win Hill. The day was warm, the breeze was soft, and the great bulk of Kinder looked benign and inviting in its heather coat.
It has been a while since I ran with map in hand, and my navigation was hesitant, but, for the most part, accurate. Running came easy and I was even able to keep a good jog on the less steep uphill bits. Life was good again.
I reached the trig on Win Hill to gain 50 points and then collected another couple of controls on the sides of the hill. I plunged back down into the woods for 40 points and 90 minutes were up so it was time to start to circle back towards home, through the Edale Valley.
I climbed up the lower part of Lose Hill to get a 30 and a 20. The summit, with its 60 point control looked very tempting, but I knew there just wasn’t quite time for it. I had been running with a young couple who were travelling much faster than me but, every 400m, would stop and scrutinse the map and have a long discussion. I think this was just a ploy to let me overtake and show them the way.
We came into Hope and I heard them say, “Well, we might as well, we’ve got plenty of time” and they disappeared, I think into the pub for a swift half. I made my way back through the fields via a parkrun-style cow interlude. I had left a 30 pointer as a bonus if I had time. I reckoned I just did, even though it meant a bit of a climb back up Win Hill.
I was back to laze on the grass and chat, socially distanced, with 2.30 mins to spare. 450 points was a good haul, I reckoned, until my mate Pete came in a few minutes behind me with 500. He’d made the trip to the top of Lose Hill. He’s older than me but just better, curse him.
1 Marc Anderson 600 points
20 Rick Ansell 450points
140 odd finished.