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3 - Friday
Finally! The Munro Marathon is here! Well.... almost. I have not quite gone yet and we are in the middle of packing. I have taken over The Crannog at The Bustard, God Unlimiteds residential centre where I live, so I can check, double check, and triple check, that I have everything I am going to need over the next 3 weeks, including the kitchen sink.
Oh yeah....... don't forget the dog!
So... panning from left to right, I have the table of snacks for the car, bits I have not put into the right section yet, the maps (will probably be needing them) and emergency dog rations aka Bonios! Just behind the table is the pile of clothing needed for R and R days (rest and re-organisation) which will either be with the support crew in the first week, or at a campsite in the second and third week.
As we continue along, we come to the campsite camping section..... hence the ginormous 5 man tent! Oh and the extra 3 man tent! I am definitely not carrying those up the mountain. So... why bother taking them? Because I will need more space to dry out kit and recover, and for Isla to recover, at the campsites. In the last week, fellow therapist and friend will be joining me in case Isla needs a rest, and that is when we need the 5 star (sorry... man) tent. But it will feel like 5 star after a few weeks of squeezing into the compact and bijoux wild country Zephyros 1 !
Then we get to the exciting kit - everything I need to take up the Munros. First aid kit, water bottles, camelbak, waterproofs (mine and the dogs!), sleeping bag, 1 man tent, Jetboil stove, spork (never go Mountaineering without a spork) survival bag, dog harness, dog pack, walking poles, hat, gloves, buff, spare layer, spare layer, spare layer, gaiters, compass, miniature notebook and pencil, small multi-tool, paracord bracelet (in case of emergencies)....oh, and the food and all the other stuff on the kit list I have not packed yet! All of that will add up to approximately 20-24kg.
2 - Saturday
Pack the car. That excellently fun game of "car tetris" which men feel they can always do way better than ladies (as if!). I will need to do this either before or after finishing a wedding cake and attending the wedding of a friend! No need to panic.... so far everything is ahead of schedule and we are running on time - amazing really. Until Isla walks down the corridor with her pink, bed time teddy, reminding me we have to pack him too.... oh and a bean bag for the campsites, because they are so comfy!
Move out men! Sorry ... woman and dog! We aim to be on the road by 8am so we can get to just north of Glasgow, just in time for dinner with Sarah Dubique and her poodle Jess - aka support crew for the first week. It will take about 8 hours if the traffic is good, and I am so glad my friend Stuart Webb has loaned me his TomTom. I am usually a stickler for using Road Maps, and I can navigate rather well. But, holding onto the steering wheel whilst map reading is frowned upon and it is going to be a long trip.
GO! - Monday - first day on the mountains.
Time to suit up and march upon the hills. My first Munro is Ben Vorlich in the Trossachs area. But...
I was looking at a map the other day and revising the route, and thought, maybe I could just go and do Ben Lomond first, which would involve a little drive, then come up and do Ben Vorlich and wild camp before taking Ben Vane, Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain...... ?
I mean, why not!? I would then be climbing the Southern Most Munro and possibly take my Munro count up to 40.
Thank you to everyone who has loaned me kit - I will try very hard to use it well, not abuse it, and bring it back in one piece.
I am unsure how much I will be able to blog, tweet or facebook whilst I complete this mission. I will keep you posted..... when I can.....
PS.... only a little bit excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, with only 6 weeks to go before I and my faithful companion set off into the wilderness of Scotland, I decided it was time to get the maps out and plan routes, stop over points and travel days. Apparently, Isla wants to plan the routes!
However, with my ultimate wisdom, I realised this would not be a good idea, because we would end up walking twice as far, and following her nose!
So, working together, we have now planned the first 3 mountain ranges we will be climbing, found the necessary campsites for stop over days, and figured out where and when we need to go places. Juicy details to follow, but we are off to an agility class now!
Cannot wait for this adventure to start!!!!!
At the end of March, Isla and I set off once more to what has become our training ground - Dartmoor! We were with Owen (Summer ML and brother-in-law) for extra navigation training and confidence building, and had a very lovely 6 hour walk on the moor.
Owen decided it was worth while me navigating without a compass and without the clock. This meant I had to look at contour features, which is what I will need to rely on heavily in the Scottish Mountains.
Remarkably, we did not get lost and I managed to find us on the map each time. Mission of confidence building definitely accomplished, and we got some great snaps with Owen acting as Cameraman extraordinaire!
With only 7 and a half weeks to go until we set off, Isla and I are upping the physical training with more walking and practising carrying weights (both of us that is!). Planning is also under way and we are slowly making progress.
Keep you posted, and as Isla says "where to next?!"
Written by Isla (she is a very clever spaniel!)
Having now had the opportunity to test out the new fleece pyjamas for when Naomi and I go on our 3 week expedition, I am pleased to report it is perfect.
Not only does it help to dry me off when I get very wet and muddy, it is also wonderful for snuggling into overnight and keeps me roasty toasty warm. Naomi says I can only wear it in the tent, which is very annoying when I need a toilet break because I have to take it off, go outside and get a little bit chilly, then come back into the tent and have it put back on. Whilst it is a faff, it does mean it will be vaguely clean for the next time I need to use it.
I would definitely recommend this to all my furry friends.
Price 5/5 Stars
Functionality 5/5 Stars
Comfort 5/5 Stars
THANK YOU VERY MUCH SARAH for all your hard work, imagination and sewing machine!
Following the Dartmoor practice expedition, I realised I needed to change the way I was training.
YES - running 5 times per week is great for my cardiovascular fitness, but it is also very specific. It trains me to run. I will not be running my MunroMarathon! I will be walking, with a 20kg pack, up hill for an awful lot of it!
So, the new plan is increased variety, increased resistance training to build muscle, and walking with a pack, which I will start at 5kg, and increase gradually. Still exercising 5 times per week, and taking Isla with me too so she can train as well.
Monday: Run at least 4km plus resistance work
Tuesday: Cycle (distance TBC and need to train Isla to run alongside the bike!) plus resistance work
Thursday: Walk at least 5km with a pack
Friday: Run or cycle at least 4km plus resistance work
Saturday: Walk at least 5km with a pack
Resistance work = Box Jump x 10, Pull Ups x 5, Squats x 20, Press ups x 10, Lunge Squats x 20 and Burpees x 10. All of that x 3!
With all the increased exercise, I also need to increase my protein and energy intake, so I have just got some dairy-free protein powder from MyProtein.
When I signed up for the Munro Marathon, I did not really appreciate the amount of work and training that would need to go into it. It was just going to be an adventure. In a way, I am pleased it is going to be a challenge and hard work! Otherwise, it wouldn't be worth sponsoring!
Keep you posted....
This Easter weekend saw Isla and I set off for Dartmoor to do a two day walk, one night wild camp expedition, with the possibility of a third day. An important opportunity to practice the navigation, and test whether I had all the correct kit with me or not.
After a 2.5 hour drive, Isla was ready and raring to go. So I hefted on the rucksack (I had forgotten how heavy a rucksack full of expedition kit is!) and off we set to our first high point, North Hessary Tor.
The visibility was absolutely fantastic and Isla was very well behaved. After a few hairy moments where it took me a while to find out where we were on the map, because all the hills in Dartmoor are brown and blob shaped, and 19.5 km, we arrived at Teignhead Farms Ruin. This was our wild camp location, and here I learnt lesson number 1:
When we stop, even in good weather, Isla realises how tired she is, and quickly gets cold. Therefore, rapid tent pitching is required so she can go and snuggle into her purple pyjamas which double up as a towel and wet dog drying device. Once she is settled, I can worry about cooking dinner.
With all the camp admin sorted, we settled down for a windy night. The Wild Country Zephyros 1 Tent, whilst compact and, lets face it, tiny, held up well. On waking in the morning, the weather had come in. Sheeting rain, high winds and poor visibility. Perfect opportunity to test out the new waterproofs and my navigation skills in poor visibility. But first, I had to pack away a wet tent and get all the kit back into the rucksack, without the kit getting too wet.
After 2 hours in horrid weather, it quickly became apparent that we had to keep moving and get back to the car ASAP before Isla got hypothermia. Am I being over-dramatic? No!!!! We were walking into the wind, and as soon as her fur was soggy, it sucked the heat out of her, even though her waterproof kept the worst of the weather off her back.
Lesson No 2: If I need spare layers to wear when it is bad weather, so does Isla!
After a route march back to Princetown totalling 18km, we piled into the car, took of the sopping wet kit, and cuddled under a blanket until we stopped shivering. Whilst it was not pleasant, it is good to know that Isla and I can last a day of nasty weather and have the capacity to heat up again at the end. But, we did not stop there! I decided to pitch the tent at the campsite and spend another night, hoping to do more navigation practice with Owen on the Sunday. We lasted the night, and managed to dry off the wet clothes in the sleeping bag, but Isla was exhausted, it was hailing, and certain key items of kit had not dried out properly. I made the judgement call to head home early, and fit in more practice expeditions before we go in July, as well as change the fitness training so both Isla and I are better prepared.
One thing is for sure, this Munro Marathon is going to be hard graft. It will be awesome, but it will be physically and mentally challenging for me and the dog. We need to consolidate our kit and make sure every gram of weight counts. And the bottom line has to be our safety. If we are in stinking weather, and the dog is tired, we will turn around and go back to the car rather than risk injury trying to get one more Munro. So, 34 are scheduled, 26 are hoped for, and we will see where we end up. Either way, please sponsor our efforts in this challenging, 3 week adventure at:
And for more pictures, check out the new album on the Naomi's Munro Marathon Facebook Page
Having completed the second to last Open University assignment for this year, I had the time yesterday afternoon to pitch the expedition tent for the first time! It took me ages to decide which tent to buy, but, you will be pleased to know, not as long to pitch it in The Bustard garden.
It is really small, and just about squeezes one man and his dog inside. BUT, it is all worth it because it only weighs 1.5kg.
Isla does not quite know what to think of it and I need to insert an extra groundsheet so her claws don't tear through the lightweight one it came with.
Either way, the tent is certainly living up to expectations so far. We will have too see how it copes with a 4 day training expedition in Dartmoor over the Easter weekend. Suddenly, everything is becoming all too real!
Keep you posted......
Well, time marches on and I am no closer to organising the finer (or any) details of the epic adventure. Unfortunately, things ground to a halt following illness and a pending Open University assignment (Naomi) and lameness (Isla - poor wonder dog).
As a result, Isla is on bed rest and lead walks only, but I am back on nearly fighting form and smashed a personal best on average pace time today. 5:45 per km to 5:30 per km. Not bad considering the lack of running last week!
However, things are on the up! The assignment is nearly finished and then a few more weeks to go and this module will be finished. Then I will have 15 hours study time per week to plan routes, rest stops, shower stops, overnight stops and everything else. Not to mention try and train even more!
And the best bit is, that despite my current lack of time to organise, everyone is still being extremely supportive through Facebook, Twitter, and The Big Give. If you break it down, I only need to be sponsored £100 per Munro and we will have hit target. Lets get solar panels down at the yard so we can provide better therapy, all year round.
Before Christmas (yes - I am only just getting around to blogging about this particular event), I went to the wilds of Dartmoor with my brother-in-law Owen who is a Summer Mountain Leader.
This was specifically for Navigation training. Don't get me wrong - I already had plenty of navigation experience...... I was just a little bit rusty!
By the end of the weekend, I was back up to speed and ready to go on my Munro Marathon with the necessary skills under my belt to not get lost. Or, if I do get lost, to find myself again!
A couple more training sessions are scheduled in the diary. One on Salisbury Plain - home turf and personal stomping ground (I don't know why the army have to use it so much). And another full weekend practice expedition over Easter in Dartmoor. Isla will be tagging along too this time as she will be a year old and better able to cope with several full days of walking!
Watch this space!