Verna Burgess – Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon, 7-8th July

Ed: Verna Burgess reports from what sounds like a rough 2 days!

The Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon took place on the week-end of 7-8th July 2012. In this event, teams navigate between checkpoints, visiting them in the order given (with the exception of solo Klets competitors). The first day finishes at a mid-way campsite. Competitors must carry the lightweight camping and safety equipment listed in the rules. Competitors need to be competent in the use of map and compass in the mountains. Many checkpoints require accurate navigation, especially in misty conditions. 
This year the event was based in the far west of the Lake District at Wasdale Head, near Wastwater. The driving rain and gusty conditions on arrival on Friday afternoon had everyone scanning the skies and wondering if they had packed enough dry layers!
We awoke, however, on Saturday morning to warm, bright sunshine and instead of layering up, the limited suncream was generously shared and sunglasses dug out the bottom of rucksacks. Pete Bland Sports did a great trade in sun hats!
We had a late start time of 10.00am but eventually set off on the Harter Fell course with 10 checkpoints to visit each day, along with about 17km and 800m climb. On both days this class was kept to the north and west of Wastwater, summiting Seatallan, Scoat Fell and Pillar. The ground was wet everywhere  and feet were constantly soaked through the endless bogs and streams. The overnight camp was at an isolated farm south west of Stockdale Moor. The dreaded midges were non existent though and it made for a pleasant evening. Vegan food is quite a challenge on these endurance events but I planned  ahead and an order to Veganstore saw me supplied with vegan salami, jerky, mushroom risotto, sweets and powdered soya milk for drinks, cereal and pudding! Indeed we had so much food we did not manage to eat it all – leading to much comment by my husband and team partner Michael who quite literally shouldered the burden! 
We had a good day one and finished in 4.47 about mid way in the placings for our class. On day two we were much slower and also had to contend with cloud making navigation far more challenging. We finished in 6.07 giving us a total time of 10.55.18 or 79th in our class. We did slightly better in the Vet category and were placed 30th. 
If you are interested in this event see the website.