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2011 – Planner’s Comments

Charlie Sproson - Planner

Charlie Sproson

It was my first time, and it was a baptism of fire. Back in October Chris Hall emailed me to say they had accepted my application for course planner and that they would like to talk to see if I could still do it and if I still wanted to do it. The answer of course was yes, even though I knew I had a busy winter. We were selling our shop and going online completely. This was happening in January. Then I moved house in March. I then had 2 friends depart from the world due to cancer, the list could go on I guess, as all folk have problems, but it didn’t help with my planning.

The start point was determined as Chapel Stile, Bruce Rowand the Farmer at Bayesbrown had agreed the use of his campsite and fields, the midway camp were to be Wythburn, Gavin Bland (yes of the Billy Bland, all time fell running master who STILL holds the BG fastest time, family), who is a fell runner himself, had agreed we could use his fields as well. All to be arranged now by the team was permissions to cross the land in between. The United Utilities, the National Trust and the Commoners Association were all contacted and permissions were granted. Now comes my part, and believe me, it wasn’t so easy… or not at least as easy as I thought it might have been. Now came my job to pour over maps, look for viable courses, set viable courses and then have them agreed by Chris and Brian, my controllers. For those who don’t know, as I didn’t, the planner plans, the controllers look at the planners routes and agree if they are too tough, not tough enough, whether there are hazards, if there are, then how can they be minimized or do they need to be changed, whether they are any good or not etc. I did my best to keep the courses within reasonable bounds, but to keep the shorter courses interesting, i.e not running the same ridge each day, then I had to route them into other valleys, causing more height gain than previous years. For the longer courses, well unfortunately for them, I believe their courses should be tough. After all, it’s a game of wits, pitting yourself against fell, terrain, weather and the course planner. I like an interesting course, lots of route choice, hard navigation and lots of ups and downs, so for Kirkfell and above, this is what they got. Although the hot weather didn’t help and compounded the fact that the courses were harder than last year, I hoped that everyone would still enjoy them…. It was a little late in the last week we had before the event to change everything around and planner I might now be, but weather setter I am certainly not.

After looking at the results from the first day and second day, and listening to as much feed back as I could gather, I think I have a pretty good idea of how to go about next years planning, if the controllers will allow me the pleasure again. The upper end of the classes were full of compliments, just what they wanted, the middle group liked the technicality, but found the courses physically demanding. The lower end was a mixed bag, some liked, some did not, there were different aspects they noted and the sun had baked many. There was a higher rate than normal for people missing controls or deciding to stop racing and return to mid-way camp. I guess it is hard to please all. I know on some MM’s I have competed in, I have found the days to be easy or hard from year to year, and depending on who has planned, and where the MM is held. I guess that is called luck of the draw. The elements I do know which will make all the difference, and this is from experience as well, don’t under estimate a MM, never think you are going to have an easy life, train as much as possible, stay hydrated and consume more food than you think, and if you still find it tough, well then train harder for next year and if you get a soft touch, enjoy it for the surroundings.

For me, the best thing about the weekend was watching all the competitors set off at the start of each day, ready for a days navigating and running, then watching them come back in at the end of each day, hot, tired and full of endorphins. It was one of the best senses of well-being I have experienced, it filled me with appreciation for my fellow MM lovers, it gave me a total high. I would have loved to be out there with you all, running, but I experienced a different side of the MM scene, and I loved every minute of it.

Charlie Sproson

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