Report from Sarah Fuller:
The mountain trial is a major event in the fell running calendar steeped in 61 years of history. The race is billed as a ‘severe test of fellrunners’ mountaineering ability and stamina’ and it does it exactly what it says on the tin! The race often has a lot of difficult and often dangerous terrain and a large amount of route choice options and tough navigation, and attracts a somewhat high class field particularly in the 2 longer courses (yours truly excepted of course!). There are three courses: the classic (up until recently only open to men!), the medium (until recently women only) and the short (aimed as first timers or older competitors). As usual I was in the medium trial along with 49 other competitors and this year the start was in Borrowdale so the day promised some steep and rocky terrain. Also as usual for the trial the day started claggy and wet and we were set off at minute intervals into the gloom. I secretly quite like those conditions as it can slow down some of the racing snakes but after a couple of hours the weather brightened and the cloud lifted leaving a lovely day which was most enjoyable but sure enough the racing snakes prevailed!
Our course took us onto Glaramara (the land of 3,000 identical looking knolls) and a really hard control in the middle of a largely featureless (and exceptionally wet) plateau (I gave myself a big pat on the back for getting this one spot on!), then steeply down into langstrath and a long traverse along the valley side followed by a near vertical boggy slog up allen crags. Control 3 was over the other side of broad crag high above the corridor route, I (and a few others) thought I was being clever taking a more northerly route around great end saving some height gain but it turned out to be a complete nightmare as there was some crags and a gulley that weren’t visible on the map which meant I spent a lot of time faffing and retracing my steps a few times. It was a bit frustrating but I tried to forget it as its part and parcel of this sort of race, and enjoy the rest of the day as the sun had come out and the views were magnificent. Finally I reached control 3 and breathed a sigh of relief which was short lived when I saw where the next control was – over on haystacks with the gables in the way! So a bit of a slog but all in all a long but incident free leg to haystacks. 2 more controls on the way in on the far side of grey knots then over the road on the coast to coast track and then the final run in to Borrowdale. I was chuffed to finish my 4th trial but slightly disappointed with the result although it is a tough event to do well in and a tough one just to finish. Good tester and much needed navigation practice ready for the RAB mountain marathon in 2 weeks though. The medium trial was won by Matt Driver in a pretty unbelievable 4 hours and 4 minutes. I was 41st in 6 hours 2 minutes.