The original idea for a holiday this year involved France, alpine passes, road bikes and sun. For a number of reasons, this didn't come off, but luckily we had a back up plan.
As mentioned in the previous Spine Blog, I've never actually set foot on the Pennine way anywhere north of Marsden. Thats quite a lot of territory that, if not recced, might prove a little tricky come the actual race.
Lynne and I decided to have a few days run/walking up the Pennine way, basically to see what it was like underfoot and around about from Wessenden (isle of skye road) up to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. I wasn't carrying full on spine kit, but was carrying enough for a 4 day running trip, staying in hostels etc. We both ended up with packs weighing between 4 and 6kg depending on which bits of clothing we were wearing, and whether we'd eaten lunch and drank all our water...
Day 1 from the Isle of Skye road to Mankinholes. As you can tell from the distance, we weren't thrashing away trying to run as fast and as hard as possible, but rather, this was a considered recce of the route, and to get an idea of what was underfoot. The weather on day one was indifferent at best, and wet and misty at worst.
We got into Mankinholes after heading up to Stoodley pike, which I recognised from Shepherds Skyline a couple of years ago. Hung all our bits and bobs up to dry in the drying room if the hostel (which doesn't actually turn on until 5pm) and went to find a pub.
(The Top Brink... Good food. Good ale).
Day 2 Mankinholes to Cowling. The main thing about today was that although there isn't a lot in the way of peaks, there is a fair amount of up and down. Its not exactly on entirely runnable terrain either, so keeping up a decent pace out of Hebden Bridge might be challenging. Need to workout exactly where the checkpoint in HB is going to be, to plan a route in and out, and recce that as well.
Once over the first few lumps, it basically stays lumpy all, and in some places the path becomes much more bog than anywhere else that I've seen thus far on any section (including Bleaklow), and the final drop into Cowling was fun, but quite a long haul.
Day 3 Cowling to Malham. Very much a slightly undulating day, going through lots of fields and farmland. A number of bovine encounters, and a few places where the PW was not altogether well signposted meant that this is really a place that you need to keep your wits about you.
Day 4 Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Originally this was going to be a day to Hawes, but there was no train station there, so we cut it short.
Apart from day 1 the weather held off, and we had a decent few days of pleasant autumnal sun. I used the Harveys 1:40k, Lynne had a series of 1:25k laminated sheets that we had printed off before going, and we surprised ourselves by going across them at quite a rate.
I did the entire thing in a pair of Inov8 x-talon 212s, which were slightly battered at the beginning (450k on the clock), and were a little slippy and slidey in some places, but they held up well. I think they might be coming toward the end of their fell running days, and may have to be relegated to trail running soon.
I got everything in an OMM 20litr adventure light, though think that for the race, the 32 litre might be slightly more appropriate, considering the amount of extra gear that we will be required to carry. If i can get it all down to less than 10kg all told, I'll be pretty happy.
- So yes, I can mapread with a 1:40k.
- X talons are fine for consecutive 30k days at a relatively leisurely speed.
- You can put on weight over a week even if you're doing the Pennine way.
- I think I'll be doing some long heavy days out over the next few months, interspersed with a decent squat and single leg weight training regime, and a whole load of step up and step downs.
- And I'm certainly going to need an OMM 32 litre, a Rotor Smock, a pair of leki microvario poles, and potentially a lighter sleeping bag.
- Also need to think about lighting, and get used to running in the dark, in rain, for long periods of time. Joy.
- The original Suunto Ambit cannot cope with more than 3 days of 30k per day recording, and on the 4th day, overwrites the 1st day. Not only that, but if you have a GPX of the 4th day, you can't upload it to Movescount. If I could use the Ambit without using Movescount I really would.... the upload thing has been an issue for more that 2 years now and is, without doubt, an easy fix. The lack of memory on the Ambit is a hardware thing, and, I believe less of an issue on the 2 and 3.