The Yomp Mountain Challenge

The nice thing about these sort of hybrid walking/running events that have mixed start times is that there’s not a massive queue for the bogs. I sat in the changing rooms in splendid isolation adjusting my dress and thinking I should probably get out there. I wandered out into the brilliant sunshine to see the rather scary vision of Shaun standing, arms astretch, in some sort of weird crucifix like pose. Didn’t Michael Jackson do that on stage once? And things didn’t work out well for him.

Wear sunscreen

But all was ok. Shaun wasn’t trying to annoy Jarvis Cocker, just offering a maximum surface area for Ros to spray him down with SunScreen. Good advice. Wear sunscreen.

Half or Full?

Staggered starts are nice but the downside is, as I know from doing orienteering events, is that you can be at a race and not know that your clubmates are also there as you don’t see them. I glimpsed Margaret and Christine who were doing the Half Yomp, and Geoff was there too. And me. Probably more. Who knows.

Shaun hangs a left onto the half

Off I went on my lonesome to tackle the Full Yomp, something I’d wanted to do for years. I’d been at a wedding the night before, but so had Penny for the Salomon Trail 10K last week and she’d done pretty well, so by that logic, I’d do just fine too. I tootled south through Kirby Stephen in good spirits and deliberately kept my pace down knowing that I “didn’t do hot”, chomping on a Shotblok or two and feeling pretty chirpy. I was expecting to do well. Shaun caught me just in time for us to part company as he took a left for the tantalisingly tempting Yomp-Demi.

The Full Yomp

At the top of Wild Boar Fell (where I have an 11 year old geocache – BTW, really must check it’s ok sometime. Not today though) I was flagging a bit. But onward, and, apparently, ever upward, and I continued to wilt. I decided it was time to check the Garmin. I’d done 17 somethings. That was OK wasn’t it? Oh hang on, I’d changed to Kilometres for some reason. So 17, was er, well a 10K is six miles, so 17 km is um, well less than 12 miles. No that couldn’t be right. It’s ‘fewer’. No perhaps it is ‘less’. But either way it was not good, because right now I had that 90% through a race feeling, and according to my Garmin, I was lucky if I’d gone half way.

Still, My Garmin Can’t Lie, so I plodded on. The descents off that hill that Paul mentioned were pretty much as described, but they were the last ones I did with any control. As I crossed the road to push on to the next bit, it was all becoming all a bit functional. I did have the good grace to pause while traversing Hanginstone Scar to admire the view westwards where you see the railway line snaking up towards Kirkby Stephen.

On to High Seat, High Pike Hill, and probably some other fells with ‘High’ in the name somewhere. Then my weariness became apparent. As any fell runner knows, to descend well needs skill, not-sore feet, and, energy. It takes energy to descend fast, it’s not like being on a bike where you just stop peddling and gurn into the wind. So I hobbled down to the road, took a deep breath, then onto the last bit up to Nine Standards Rigg.

Well that was that bit done, then down. Going downhill isn’t fun when you’re stuffed. And your feet are hot and sore and blistered. I arrived back at the school and had a look at my time. Ah ok. A bit pish then. Very pish in fact. No surprises there.

An interesting day, and a reminder that I’ll probably never stop being naive about races. I did the Wensleydale Wander last month, which is an identical distance. And I was fine after that. So why was today so much harder? Possibly related to the Yomp involving twice as much climbing. I was also intrigued that my feet gave me problems – hot and blistered in my Walshes. This happened to me once in Swaledale, and I put it down to wearing Walshes on a course that has so much hard surfaces. Now I’m not so sure. I’m now thinking it’s not the surfaces, or the shoes, it’s the heat. I was strangely re-assured to get an email from Shaun in the evening asking me how my race had gone as his had been ‘absolutely awful’. Not just me then!

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