Only a few days left until I tackle the Mourne Mountain Marathon for the second time. After a hiatus last year for both of us, John and I are entering again. We’ve moved up a class to B after our surprise 2nd place in the 2010 C class. I was tempted for the elite, but the Causeway Coast Ultra is only two weeks afterwards and more of a priority to me. John is also aiming for a PB marathon run at Dublin next month. Neither of us has done much by way of navigation this year either, so we’re aiming not to blow up or get lost. Admittedly, I spot Violet and Greg are racing the elite: fair play to them – putting me to shame! With all my extra training for next year it will definitely be on the cards, but one step at a time: B is definitely a step up from C, and it’s going to be a competitive 34 teams. Our goal, as always, to get to the end: top half would be nice, more than that a Brucie bonus!
The past few weeks have seen me running about with a weighted pack and taking longer routes home from work… easing the depression of the earlier nights by pleasure of the first head-torch runs of the winter. I use a BCB military pack for training as it’s tough: you don’t want to break your good bag just carrying crap around for training. Water bottles and towels make a nice spread of weight. The first short runs I loaded nearly 8kg to shock the system, but have mostly been running with 6kg. Hopefully, this will be even heavier than the first day of the MMM, so the event will feel easier. I can still churn out 5.55min/km (9.5min/miles) on the hilly long runs. I’ve noticed my form is much smoother on subsequent un-weighted runs, so will incorporate the pack more regularly over my winter training. John and I met one evening for a joint training run, more to chat about the details and catch-up, although it’s also reassuring to be moving at roughly the same pace before going into a race together.
We’ve divvied up the gear requirements and will equalize the weight of our packs on the day by shuffling a few components. I was remarkably close to dropping £400 on a cutting-edge sleeping bag and 200g waterproof, but when I thought to write out the reasons and do the sums, it was clear these things could and must wait until another time. A kind friend is lending me their gucci down bag, and I shall either use my 300g Trek Mates ‘better than you’d think for £30’ jacket or my 400g Montane Venture which is just better in every way. Having invested in the latter I’m leaning towards function over weight… especially as the Trek Mates will absorb its own weight in water if it chucks down… and bright blue with orange zips wins over grey every time 🙂
I didn’t get around to making an ultra-light pack correcting the flaws of the Terra Nova I used last time, so will use the heavier Haglofs Tight 30 that I have. Everything might fit in the Deuter 20, but the Haglofs is flawless in its comfort. It has no mesh pockets or bungie though…normally a must for any adventure race. I shall make do with the gel pockets in my shorts and a strap-on bottle holder. Tomorrow I pick up the sleeping bag, gas, some Mountain House meals and a whistle (I think my sister borrowed my usual orange friend). I’ll do a trial pack tomorrow with weights and pictures for all you interested parties. Being the experienced amateur that I now am, I’ll also prepare a post-race recovery pack, and a night-before camping bag.