Cheviot Challenge Sat 24th Aug 2013
[Tue 27th Aug]
It’s 5:30 in the morning, summer bank holiday and pouring with rain – yes, it’s Cheviot Challenge day! First decision – turn left and go back to bed or turn right and get ready. For the first time (but not the last) I make a navigational error and 2 hours later I’m in Alwinton eagerly waiting the start of the event (23 miles and over 4200ft of climbing). The weather was ideal for running – cool and with a touch of moisture in the air. The mist had lifted and I’m in good spirits, trying not to think about the effect the heavy overnight rain will have had on the peat bogs.
Off we go and about 4 miles later, I’ve gone the wrong way - and this is on the road section! Luckily I wasn’t alone, the bloke I was following and the 3 following me had also gone wrong. Turn round and, trying to avoid eye contact with the marshals standing at the point where we should have turned off, soon back on the correct route and climbing towards Middle Hill with the Border Ridge to come. Climbing up the valley, I was convinced I’d gone wrong but then realised (not for the last time) that I was not where I thought I was.
By the time Border Ridge was reached the mist had settled in and visibility was poor at best(?). Extremely wet underfoot and was running through water most of the time. From the next check-point, Border Ridge was left behind and a drop down through the peat bogs towards the distant forest was needed – only problem was that visibility was down to about 30ft and couldn’t see the forest! Then came the action that strikes fear into anybody who knows me – I got the compass out! Once I managed to get it the right way up, I confidently followed a bearing of ‘a touch to the right of South’ (technical jargon for guessing) and was amazed when the mist lifted and I was (almost) on target.
All that was left now was a steady 6 miles or so through even deeper peat bogs and water, over Bloodybush and back into the forest. Now just a gentle 6 mile trot down the track and back into Alwinton and a finish in about 5 hrs 20 mins.
One last confusion – I’m sure I asked the barmaid for lemonade but she poured me a pint of Theakstons. Would have preferred the lemonade but it seemed a pity to waste it............!