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Free Saunders Howgills Virtual Score courses for training

PLEASE READ ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS CARFEFULLY-WE DO NOT OFFER A HELPDESK!

We have set up a “virtual’ score course covering around 50sq km of the Howgill Fells, most of the area used by the 2019 Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon.

There are a total of 30 controls with values of either 40, 60 or 80 points and the objective is to collect as many points as possible, within the time limit , by visiting the designated controls. We have designated two specific time limits for presenting results , either 6 hours (the original limit we used in 2020) or 3 hours. You are not, however limited to spending exactly these amounts of time out on the fells but should aim for those if you want to maximise your score.

These virtual courses have a defined set of locations (‘controls’) you need to visit but there are no physical markers at the controls – instead we use a GPS smartphone app called MapRun to identify and record when each control has been visited. At the end of your run, your results are displayed and are stored on a server so you can see your ranking compared with other people who’ve completed the same course. You can also compare routes and split times and work out any improvements you could have made to route choice.

We currently plan to leave the event live until the end of June 2021. There is no cost to using the courses and there will be no prizes presented at the end. Results will be displayed as they come in and ranked by total points score and then by time for equal scores. You do not have to do the full 3 or 6 hours to use the course and can do as much in the time you have available and it will still record and register. You can also enter as many times as you like.

HOW TO GET READY TO TAKE PART

You need to install an app called MapRunF, which is available free on the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android. If you have previously used the original MapRun you will still need to install MaprunF as the basic version doesn’t have the capacity to handle our course). There is a newer version called Maprun6 which you can use but may have stability issues. If you have not already used Maprun6 successfully, we would recommend using MaprunF.

Once you have installed it, please fill in your personal details (name, age etc), which are needed to display your results in your age category.

We cannot offer technical support on this app but this link covers some issues that might arise on your phone.

http://maprunners.weebly.com/phone-settings.html

When you are out on the course the app uses GPS and is not reliant on a phone signal. You will need to make sure you start with a full phone battery and, depending on the age of your phone, maybe a power block to recharge if your phone struggles to run with GPS for 6 hours. In our test we used a range of phones and were pleased to find most had 50% or more charge at the end. You can turn WIFI, Bluetooth and Mobile Data off but it is best to avoid using battery saving mode as this can impact GPS on some phones.

Before leaving home or whilst you still have access to data you need to download the course from the App. We were fortunate to find we still had 4g coverage at the start of the course but wouldn’t suggest relying on this.

To compete in the 6 hour event, Open the app and use Event List to find our course which is listed under UK/Yorkshire Dales/ Saunders Howgills 2021 and then download it. Please note: if you did the course last year you should not use this but download the 2021 version as we have changed the value of some controls and will list results as a new event.

If you want to compete in the 3 hour event then download the course listed as UK/Yorkshire Dales/ Saunders Howgills 2021 3 hours.

You can download both courses and decide which you want to do when you arrive at the start but make sure to select the correct one before you start. If in doubt pick 6 hours as you can still spend 4 hours and collect a reasonable score.if you spend 4 hours on the 3 hour course then you will incur huge penalties for lateness and are likely to lose all your points!

You then need to print off a paper copy of the map, which you will use to navigate along with a compass (and also possibly an altimeter) as if you were in an actual mountain marathon.  If you are lucky enough to have access to a large format printer then there is an SLMM 6hr A3 PDF .Otherwise you should print the two sections SLMM 6hr North A4 PDF and SLMM 6hr South A4 PDF maybe on opposite sides of the same paper.  Please note-the maps and the controls are the same for both the 6 hour course and the 3 hour course.The only thing that is different is the time limit. You should print in colour if possible (although the Howgills area is fairly monochrome in mapping terms there are a lot of water courses featured in the controls, so colour does help here) then laminating or protecting in a plastic pouch (it does sometimes rain in the Howgills!) The control descriptions and points value for each control are printed on the map.

Alternatively, you can transfer the control points to your own map and Harvey Maps do a great one of the area and surroundings, available here

GETTING TO THE START

The start is on Fairmile Lane which runs between Sedbergh and Tebay, parallel with, and East of, the M6. Satnav/Google Maps may direct you off the A685 (Shap Road) on to the B6257 and across the river Lune at Lowgill – this involves crossing a very narrow bridge. It is passable in a medium sized car (VW Golf) but it is not a pleasant experience!  Going via Sedbergh or Tebay avoids this.

The parking area is sufficient for around 10 cars. As we expect visits to be spread out over the next few months, we think there should be plenty of room at all times but please park considerately.

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Link to Google Maps

The start itself is 90m north of the Parking area at the wall corner on the west side of the road

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What3words reference: producers.tennis.blows

STARTING AND COMPLETING THE COURSE

Start the MapRunF app and either:

Click on “Go to Start” – this will display the map on your phone – but you should use the printed one to navigate.

The course is now live, and your location and track are shown on the screen so that you can see if your GPS is working. These will disappear as you start. Go towards the start area as shown on the map and get ready to run. The app will automatically start logging your track and time when you pass within about 10m of the Start. The phone will beep indicating your timer has started.

Now just follow your course around the controls and as you get within about 10m of each one your phone will beep and display a message saying the control has been registered. If it doesn’t do this immediately, circle around the control for a bit – it can take a few seconds for your GPS to register your location. If it still doesn’t register, start wondering if you’re in the wrong place!

Remember there will be no indication of control points on the ground (no orange and white kites to find!) but we have visited all the controls ourselves to check they have loaded correctly on MapRunF. We are sufficiently confident that we feel we can say that if your phone does not register a control then there is either a problem with your phone or navigation. Unfortunately, we can’t help in either case. Our volunteers have spent quite a lot of time in setting this course up and we can’t operate a technical support or appeals process for those who find their efforts didn’t register as they expected. You can, however, go out and give it another go.

When you get to the finish the timer will stop automatically and you will be given the option to upload your results to the server. This will then allow you to see your position in the rankings for the course. You can also configure MapRunF to upload your route directly to Strava.

PENALTIES AND TIME LIMITS

You have 6 hours from when your phone registers at the start to collect as many points as possible and return to the start where you phone will register you have finished. Each control point has a unique identifying number between 31 and 80 with a control description which describes the feature on the ground. Each control point has a numerical points value ascribed to it and these are aggregated to produce your total score. Each control point only counts on the first visit. Points are subtracted at the rate of 10 points for every minute or part minute over the time limit. So, for example, if you enter the 6 hour course and take 6 hours 13 minutes and 23 seconds to collect 500 points you will lose 140 points and your final score will be 360 points.

The hatched areas on the maps are out of bounds and your score may not be counted if you stray into these.

SAFETY

All those using the app and the course do so entirely at their own risk and need to be aware of the dangers of traversing remote mountains, where communications are poor. We have no control over who uses the courses and do not vet participants.  With everyone taking responsibility for themselves there are therefore no mandatory kit requirements. However, as a general rule for anyone running or walking in the mountains, at any time of year we would suggest taking at least the FRA mandatory kit list, plus sufficient food for a full day out. The FRA list is: waterproof whole body cover (with taped seams and integrated attached hood), hat, gloves, map of the route, compass, whistle and emergency food.

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