Tuesday, 8 March 2011

New Chew

Albert called a couple of weeks back to ask if I would join him as a team entering the New Chew race. My first reaction was hesitation. Albert is a MUCH faster runner than I am and I would only slow him down, however the New Chew race is a replacement for the Chew Valley Fell Race which is apparently only being run every 10 years or so because United Utilities are trying to regenerate the area, so as a compromise the New Chew is an Orienteering event. Not an Orienteering event in the British Orienteering sense but one organised mainly for runners and as an orienteering event it will attract less entrants anyway, it also allows runners to take many different routes over the moors which keeps UU happy. Albert is getting better at navigation but still lacks confidence, hence why he asked me to join him.

We arrived in plenty of time for a brew and to get ready to start. We had entered the 4.5hr Score event which meant we could pick our own route and just try to visit as many points as possible. There was also a 3.5hr score and a scoreless (Scoreless was a list of specific controls that you could do in any order). On setting off it was a quick glance of the map and to try and work out a general route to follow and then make adjustments as we went. We struggled to find the first control because we were looking for Orienteering type flags instead of what had actually been used which was a 1” thick post just stuck in the ground with some tape around the top. The next few controls were found with relative ease and then we decided upon a route to collect a few high value controls.

Being used to running at Orienteering type events and with the usual 1:10000 scale maps, I was thrown by the scale now using a 1:25000 Ordnance survey map. The level of detail of the OS map compared to an Orienteering map is far less detailed and made it difficult W Belfield, 1972to work out “exactly” where you were, this wasn’t helped by the fact them maps that were issues were slightly out of date (The latest map on the OS website has more fences on it) and poorly printed which made the contours difficult to read. There were a few times where I knew I was in the right are but not quite sure how far we had come along a path. Anyway, the further we went time seemed to go by far quicker. Each time I looked at my watch time was flying by.

We collected our 4th control and decided to head over the moors for our next control. The ground was “VERY” rough with big tussocks and boggy ground in between the tussocks and took it’s toll on us, well  me. Albert is like a whippet over any ground and I constantly felt like I was holding him back despite him saying it was fine. The ground eased a little and we managed to find a few sheep trods. Surprisingly we passed a grave/memorial at one point too (pictured), the name on it was “W Belfield” who died in 1972 (I did a quick search on the net to see if I could find anything about it but found nothing). Eventually we found the right gully to head up for the waterfall where the 5th control was located. Albert managed to go knee deep in the bog and when he pulled his leg out it was bright Orange, I went around it. Shortly after, his shoes were foaming, not sure what it was he’d stood in??

Another trek over rough ground following the “Grouse Butts” (Which we though was the name of the gully at first) to the next control and an then we headed for the Pennine way were were could make up some ground. When we eventually got on the Pennine way, most of the running was far easier (With a couple of little exceptions), but it was as we were running along here I realised that time was drifting by FAR too fast and we were still heading away from the start/finish (On reflection I think we should have headed back the way we came but hindsight is a wonderful thing). We both missed the “path” that was marked on the map ( I swear there was no path) so ended up running slightly further before turning on the next path at the soldiers stone and finding our 7th (and final control). It was at this point we decided (after looking how far away the road was) that we needed to take the most direct route back as we could easily be late.

We decided that the quickest way would be to follow Holme Clough which led us right back to the Dovestone reservoir. My thinking was that we would be able to pick up a trod around there (There is always a trod in gullies like that, right??). How wrong I was!!! There is a serious shortage of paths in this whole area. It took us at least 30 mins just to get to the head of the clough and then we followed it down. There were NO paths, trods, faint lines or anything here at all. The further we followed the clough the deeper AND STEEPER the sides seemed to get, and rockier too. The going was definitely slow and with the steep sides the map was in the mouth at times as we needed feet and hands to negotiate our way through.

Spot prize, New ChewAfter some time we made it to a track alongside Greenfield brook which would lead us to Dovestones reservoir and the finish but by this point, after over 4.5 hours I was starting to stiffen up. The rough ground had taken it’s toll. The run in (50% Jog/50% walk) was very long and slow and we eventually returned to the sailing club in 5hr 12min (42 mins late). We had managed to score about 145 points but lost 126 points (3 points per minute) in penalties for being late and covered about 14.5 miles. Our score was a whole 19 points and we were last! But we weren't in the negatives.

After two portions of pie, two cups of tea and some chocolate cake I started to feel a little better although my muscles had started to stiffen up some more. Tony and Paul Murray (Who had done the scoreless) eventually came back in after 6 hours and had covered about 18 miles. The look on Tonys’ face as he came in through the door said it all. Albert and I laughed but I think it was partly in sympathy too!

A bottle of Bulmers each though as spot prizes for Albert and me made it OK though. I was happy to have got something.

Thanks to Saddleworth Runners for putting the event on and they also asked if we can try to support their local track which the council are trying to shut. So please click on the link here and sign the petition if you have time.


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