Getting to this year’s Rab Mountain Marathon was a bit of a mission. Because Janneke had a presentation to give late Friday afternoon, I drove the rental car up to Doncaster and she hopped on a train to meet me there. Due to horrendous traffic in London (seriously, why do people drive in London?) and on the motorways, my frustration threshold was pushed to new levels whilst Janneke enjoyed watching our favourite shows without me on the train. After five and a half hours of road madness for me and two and a half hours of train bliss for Janneke, we were reunited at Doncaster station. From there, Janneke took over for the last two hours of driving to the event centre. We were a little too late for registration, so it was straight to bed for us.
The next morning it was go time. After receiving our maps and checkpoint information, we spent a couple of minutes planning our rough route for the day before setting off (see our last blog on tips and tricks for mountain marathon tactics). Soon we were crossing our first river and I was well excited to find out that our second checkpoint was at the bottom of a huge sinkhole. I’d never been to the Yorkshire Dales before (I think), so this was new. We were overtaken on the way down to the bottom by a team who went all in and decided to slide down on their bottoms. Every second counts I guess.
Janneke had some problems on day one with her sore calves after running across Estonia the week before (check out her updates on our FB page) so we decided to avoid steep ascents wherever possible. There was a whole bunch of checkpoints nicely lined up from where we were all the way to the finish that allowed us to more or less contour. Generally we think it was easier this year to collect points as there were so many checkpoints arranged in quite a linear fashion, allowing for more logical paths to follow.
The contouring made navigation relatively easy, but the going was still tough. There were quite a few streams to cross, and most of the terrain was boggy and featured myriads of ankle breaking tufts and holes. I also find that being exposed to the wind all day is genuinely tiring.
We had quite a lot of time left when we got near the finish for day one, so decided to cross over to the other side of the valley to collect some more points. After collecting the first few points on the other side we decided that there was still enough time for us to go for yet another checkpoint. This turned out be be slightly farther than we thought. On the way there we also bumped into some of our friends who were doing the linear course. Unfortunately us going in the opposite direction caused some confusion and they ended up on a bit of a detour before reaching the finish line. At the second checkpoint on the other side we realised that we were cutting it a bit fine, so on the way back to the finish line we had to push hard. We made it back with only one minute and 45 seconds to spare.
After setting up camp, chilling out for a bit (i.e. I was napping and Janneke was proactive making dinner) and catching up with our friends we headed to the nearby pub for some orange juice and lemonade and cake. Yummy!
Saturday night ended up pretty windy and wet. When our alarm woke us from our regularly interrupted doze at six it was still pissing it down with rain. We snoozed for a while and luckily it stopped raining shortly afterwards. A few light showers aside, the weather improved further and further throughout the day.
Contrary to last year’s rules we were allowed to collect points from the same checkpoints again on the second day. We decided to head out back the same way we came yesterday for a while. This turned out to be a mistake. Well, I think from a collecting points perspective it was a decent tactic because we knew where the checkpoints were and progress was quite quick. But we also got bored and in order to add some spice to the day Janneke started an argument (disclaimer: she may tell a different story). Luckily we made a call later in the day to scramble up to a plateau to collect some checkpoints with huge amounts of points. After bickering for hours Janneke now exclaimed that she was happy again. Awesome! We collected loads of points, came across some pretty cool natural features and had some people photo-bomb our “we’re happy with each other again” selfie.
We were both tired, not in contention for the win and our ankles were sore, so we took it easy from here and so headed back towards the finish of day two at a leisurely pace. After crossing the finish line it was time for our well deserved victory chilli with cheese (we were not actually victorious).
All that was left to do was to somehow survive the drive back to London. Several diversions, traffic jams due to gongoozlers excited by accidents in the opposite direction and actual accidents in our direction, an almost accident caused by one of us (not me!) and the usual awful London traffic later we were back home.
Again, an awesome event, well organised, awesome people and awesome days out on the hills. The only way this weekend could’ve been any better is if car hire companies in the UK started doing out of hours drop offs. Then we could both revel in the delights of train travel and just hire a car for the last few miles to the event centre and drop the car off on the Sunday afternoon. Or self-driving cars of course… One day…