Matt Davis is taking on the legendary Dragon's Back Race at the beginning of September and with just two weeks to go, it's down to the nitty gritty of logistics...
You know its getting close when the final details arrive as they did last week. The biggest dilemma I always face when going away for a trip is what to pack as I don't want to be taking the kitchen sink but equally I don't want to find that I don't have kit for the conditions such as in the past when I've bene forced into drastic measures such as wielding a knife to convert long-sleeved tops to t-shirts when its turned out to be unseasonably hot.
My own circumstance this year are complicated further as I have to have it all sorted by the Friday, of the week before the event. I'm off trekking the week before and it will literally be a quick overnight stop home before travelling down to the race.
I can see me packing all that "go to" kit that's belt and braces tested along with a liberal sprinkling of other bits and bobs 'just in case'. Likewise food, I'm going to pack a small portable supermarket with the view I can gauge what I'm using on the first day to what makes sense for the following days. But as we won't haven't any chance to re-supply other than fill up on the delicacies that are being offered by the caterers its very much a case of "be prepared".
Last Of The Hard Training Done
Well that's the last of any significantly long training sessions too. What's really become noticeable is that the daylight is drawing in, as a few times last week I was finishing in the gloaming especially on a overcast day. By the weekend my body was telling me it was getting tired and I think that's going to be one of the big challenges about an event like this.
The cumulative effect of the effort each day, recovering and keeping all the body parts functioning. Like most folks we all have a day job to do, so there's only so much time left to go training before or after and try as we might its not the same as five consecutive long shifts on the hill.
In terms of kit testing, last week I got a chance to play with something that I've been wanting to try for a whilein the shape of one of the vest / rucksacks type combinations that have popped up on the market the last few years. Although the one I'd have in mind would need to have more volume, I was able to look at the general concept of the product using the Salomon S lab 5 that belongs to a friend.
I guess I'm like most folk, in that you don't want to be spending your hard-earned cash on something that turns out not to do what you want. So having a shot of someone's else's is a good way of finding out beforehand if it's going to work for you. As I don't usually use a hydration bladder I stripped this out, my intention being to use normal bike bottles. However, I found the front pouches too narrow for those. This was easily remedied with a couple of 500ml pop bottles.
With the bladder out there was enough room to take a full set of waterproofs, spare top, hat, gloves and banana. Leaving me free to load the pockets with gels, bars, phone etc. Initial thoughts were that it might bounce around a bit without a waist belt, but in practice the high, close garment-like fit and elasticised crossing system seemed to work well allowing me to move freely at the same time distributing the pressure evenly over the shoulders, even when battering down hill.
This particular version proved to be a good alternative to a bum bag when I went out for a few hours as it enabled me to take more gear and in a bit more comfort. The flip side was I was probably a little warmer in comparison due to the extra material wrapping around the torso. No doubt it won't suit everyone, but that's the beauty of try before you buy.
Finally A Shameless Plug...
Also these last few weeks have also seen me busy trying to arrange things for a fell race I'm helping organise. So here's my unashamed plug:
Culter Horseshoe Fell Race 15th Sept 17.5Kms / 1490m with a 12 noon start from Tweedsmuir, Peeblesshire (details on Scottish Hill Runners & Fell Runners Association websites).
Proceeds go to "Save the Crook". This is an attempt to buy back the Crook Inn and re-open it as a community run initiative. My other goal is to reinstate the annual race after an absence of several years. So all support on the day or donations to the cause welcomely received even if you can't make it. Check out other things going on at savethecrook.org.uk.