Down but not out at the Saunders Lakeland Marathon

Andy Rich reports….

DNF, did not finish. That’s a tough thing to see next to your name and it’s only happened to me once before. I’ve come close a few times like at the Belfast marathon where I conked out and started walking only for most of the pub opposite to cheer/jeer me back on track. This time it was different, navigation was involved!

It all started as a desire to try out something different. Fellow club-member Greg, all round action man and off-road hero, seeded the idea with various tales from the fell running scene. So that was it, four of us entered the race; Greg, Rick (his teammate), with Jo Rich and myself making up a husband and wife team.

The Saunders is really several different races of varying difficulty all happening at the same time. It’s very different from anything we’ve done before because it involves carrying a tent and supplies. At the start line you are given a map and in our case, six coordinates to locate. Then it’s off you go, up into the hills to find these checkpoints and then finally onto a temporary campsite. The next day the whole thing starts again but this time finishing back where you started.

Our problems began almost immediately when after an hour of searching we couldn’t find the first checkpoint. Having watched a couple of youtube videos on how to navigate with a map and compass I figured we’d be ok, probably a bit slow but ok. No, we weren’t. In hindsight I did manage to get lost at the Crook’s Peak cake race (a local three mile race complete with marshalls that goes up Crook’s Peak, along the top and back down again).

It’s now blowing a gale and raining so we made the tactical decision to give up looking for the first checkpoint and move on to the next. After more trugging up hills and eating a pretty sorry looking bagel the rain briefly turned to hail! We had now been going for three hours and we were maybe (who knows?) halfway to the second checkpoint. This was the point where I cracked and suggested the unthinkable……going back. Four hours and many wrong turns later we arrived back at the original campsite. To some relief we could see we weren’t the only ones who had bailed out.

It wasn’t all bad though, after drying off we headed to the nearest pub for pints of beer and a nice big pie. All this while Greg and Rick were crammed into a tiny tent trying not to touch the sides and get even more wet.

It hasn’t put us off but on a serious note it is worth getting some experience and skills training if you are going to do this sort of thing. Getting lost in the middle of nowhere is only funny for the first couple of hours :(

Leave a Reply