Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Hill running navigation weekend in Pentlands, April'13

Planning a route from Allermuir
I was asked by Dave Scott from Scottish Hill Runners to put together a 2-day navigation course aimed specifically at hill-runners. With the hill running calendar about to go into full swing and with the Highlander Mountain Marathon at the end of April, we went for this weekend early in the month.
Running on a bearing down Allermuir

A full quota of 12 people booked on, ranging from beginners who had a little experience to those who had a solid grounding, but wanted to brush up on their skills.

So we met on the Saturday morning at Midlothian Snowsports Centre below the northern Pentlands. The centre provided us with their meeting room - the perfect size for all 14 of us. The morning covered the basics - getting to know maps ( comparing different ones with their sizes, contours, features and more) giving grid references, compasses, estimating distances and timings and how to navigate successfully. After lunch we then headed into the hills to put it into practice. Snow was on the hills and it was cold, but bright. Initially walking, we gradually introduced running into the navigation with everyone ending up working in pairs and being scattered over the summit plateau of Capelaw Hill while following bearings.

Day 1 finished, a jog back to base

After everyone finished for the day, Dave and I headed back out into the Pentlands to mark the course for tomorrow. A dark red glow lit the evening sky - I got off the hills at around 9pm.

Day 2 also began with a classroom session, this time we introduced hill-races and discussed different types, how to plan a hillrace and the approach leading up to it and talked about safety and what should be carried. Mountain marathons were brought in, particularly talking about route choice. We ended off the classroom bit with some ideas on nutrition and how to get out of 'being lost'. After a quick sum-up, we aimed back out onto the hills, this time getting the group back into their pairs to follow the mock mountain marathon course we'd marked the previous evening.

Running the mock mountain marathon
Great fun and I'm sure everyone got a fair bit out of the days. Hopefully we'll be doing another later in the year.

More photos are on our Flickr page. You can find out more about Scottish Hill Runners on their website.