28 June 2015

Footpath Relays Recap

Shadow pic while I was waiting for my turn to run

After much hemming and hawing I finally succumbed to the lure of participating in the Footpath Relays in the Peak District that our running club fielded two teams for and I am glad I did! It was quite fun even though I was slightly stressed about getting lost (understatement) and letting the team down.

Map, notes, and team number

The format of this event is different to most other relays that I've done in that there's self-navigation involved across a mix of terrain--a route recce is highly recommended! Legs 1, 3, 6, and 9 start from the event centre and legs 2, 5, 8, and 10 finish there with legs 1 and 6 starting at the same time.*  Teams are made up of a mix of ages and sexes and there is a handicap system to ensure that each has this mix, for example since I'm a VW45 (VW=veteran woman, the equivalent in the states is masters female) I counted for 2 points toward the minimum 14 required.  The below screenshot shows the different leg information.

Click to enlarge

I was the 10th leg on Ilkeston Running Club Team B which gave me a LOT of time to worry about getting lost despite having recce'ed the route with Rachel the previous week.  However I did relish the opportunity to soak in the warmth of the day (slightly sunburned!) and being able to cheer on the others.

Legs 1 and 6 at the start line

As I mentioned in a post last week the route is gorgeous but I had no time to enjoy it once Paul handed off to me.  A slap of hands and I was off through the first stile and across the fields trying to catch Rachel who had set off just minutes earlier...it wasn't until I cleared the 2nd field before entering the woods that I realised I had forgotten to start my garmin, frustration! I made it to the single track after the farm and B&B before I heard footsteps pounding from behind and one of the guys from another team flew by me.

From the recce day, the downhill side of this is where I was overtaken

In the next section of woods I nearly missed a turn, I had a fairly decent head of steam and overshot where the path divided but it was just a few seconds to slow down and go the proper direction towards where we had our first bit of confusion on the recce but thanks to that I knew just where to go yesterday.  Past the bench and across a stile into another wooded area which led out into the fields where we had the 2nd bit of trouble last week. I still ended up coming down to the road at the wrong place and had to climb a fence instead of the stile and it meant more of the steep uphill on the lane to get up.  A few more valuable seconds lost there... 

The last section in Bow Woods is where I lost the most time though, the route instruction notes read to stay with the main path as it bore left but just before a clearing in the centre the path divides and they are the exact same size.  This is NOT where I was supposed to bear left! I'd gone the wrong way and it wasn't until I glimpsed the clearing on my right when it was meant to be on my left that I realised my mistake.  Instead of continuing on I backtracked and of course this cost me at least a minute.  While I was fairly sure the way I went would bring me back in to the path I needed I couldn't take the chance it wouldn't.  

After this it was fairly straightforward to get back to the finish, over the gate and across the main road (had to wait for traffic to clear on this one), around the bend and left to the canal footpath.  By now it was fairly heaving with people also out enjoying the day so there was some dodging and weaving happening and trying to maintain some semblance of speed while grunting out thank you to everyone who stepped aside.  To get over to the Rugby field from the canal path for our finish involved trying to find an opening to the right that quite a few people missed--by the time I'd gotten there someone had drew a large arrow on the ground pointing to it but it was still easy to overlook.  Thankfully we had double-checked on this earlier so I didn't shoot by but it did involve a very short but steep scramble over rocks and tree roots so it behooved you to watch your step. 

Garmin Connect details

I can't wait until next year! Hopefully my navigation skills will have improved even more before then.  If you can muster up a team I heartily recommend doing this one. There are no medals or prizes or even cake unless you bring it but it's definitely fun and challenging and a veritable bargain at £20 per team.

After the relays, I'd already changed out of my club vest

*If you are wondering what happened to legs 4 and 7 they started and finished out in the middle of nowhere! 

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