I was expecting a forested course today, as it’s in Ashdown Forest, but the course was almost entirely on grassy and heathery moorland, with various tank tracks providing fast routes. The area was cold, raining and misty when I arrived, so I had planned to run just the 8km short course – especially as Nick Barrable, Simon Evans and the Rollins were all running M21L. However, the maps had run out (I hadn’t pre-entered) so I ended up running the long. 11km in the rain was always going to be tough, but I got off to a good start, making only minor mistakes (<1 minute each) up to control 7. I was going well, running hard, and could be posting a good time in the tough conditions. Then, things went a bit downhill.
Once again the “rough open with scattered trees” colouring was indistinguishable from white forest. But my main annoyance with the map is that it didn’t mark on most of the gorse clumps in the rough open – and neither did the control descriptions. This meant I wasted a lot of time (5-10 minutes each) at both 8 and 12, these were hard, technical controls, and trying to navigate off the gorse clumps caused big problems for me. The continual rain started to increase slightly, and the mist closed in, making the moorland legs very technical and very physical.
Control 8, as mentioned above, was a disaster, needing two relocations to fix, thanks to much confusion over marked and unmarked gorse bushes. 12 was a very technical control and I ended up a long way from where I should be. In the end, it was hidden in a gorse bush (unmarked), that I had run past at least twice before in my search. Some parts of the map felt very remote in the murky rain – even though it’s only Sussex, it felt more like the Scottish Highlands. 15-16 was possibly the hardest leg I’ve ever done – it was only short, with little climbing, but the marshes I tried to cross in the rain were man-eating – I ended up suddenly up to my waist several times, I’ve never been so glad to see a control. I fell in several more man-eating marshes, and was flat on my face several times after then too – it was a real fight to get around! I did however still have plenty of energy and was able to run well where I could. After a final section through pleasant woodland, the penultimate leg was a tough uphill stretch and the only leg for which I walked part-way.
As before on long, cold and wet courses, I suffered some pain in my lungs, after around 8km, which is persisting a little bit now. As I was also completely soaked, I was pretty miserable at the finish, but was relieved and glad I got around OK, on a long course, with enough energy to keep going. As is almost always the case, if I hadn’t made my big mistakes, I would have had a respectable time.
I really hope it doesn’t rain at Burnham Beeches next weeked though. With this and Eridge, I think I’ve had enough rainy courses for this year…
1: Poor navigation
3: Poor pacing
6: Bad attack point
7: Poor route choice
8: Poor route choice
12: Poor navigation
16: Poor route choice
19: Poor navigation