It was around Christmas 2017 that I received an email from Nicole in Germany (friend from the YAU) suggesting that we might like to go over to Austria and run the Karwendelmarsch in August which she would be taking part in. The route is 32miles with 7500ft of climbing, we thought this would be a great way to catch up with friends and kick off our winter race training, so we entered the run and booked accommodation at the start.
Training didn’t go as planned, as the summer was so hot which doesn’t suit me for running at all, however, I was fairly confident that I could cover the distance and climb even if I had to walk more of it than planned. Before leaving home we received messages to bring extra kit as the weather forecast was showing a break in the summer weather and a wet weekend. We arrived in Scharnitz two days before the run in gentle rain and cooler temperatures, much better for me for running. We met up with Nicole and registered for the event, picking up numbers, bag tags and other information; then after coffee and cake we went back to our accommodation to get out rucksacks packed ready for the run the following day. The rain was heavy and steady through the night, but by the start at 6am it was just damp.
The run itself was great – tough but picturesque – we didn’t get the best of the views as we were in the cloud and drizzle at higher levels. We all got separated at the start as we thought we might, the plan being to find each other at the end if this happened, however, about an hour in I heard Nicole call my name and we ended up sticking together for the rest of the run. This was a real bonus for me – chatting and catching up the whole way. As often happens, I struggled to swallow any food during the first part of the race and managed to get half a banana and a bit of water down. At the top of the second climb I decided to stop for a few minutes and have a cup of warm mint tea and eat one of the bars I had brought with me – Nicole waited for me and we set off again, me now feeling much better than I had. I found the third climb quite challenging and a few people got in between myself and Nicole, however, we set off down the other side together and after a long flat section we came in to the finish, quicker than I was expecting… with an added bonus of being given wheat beer on crossing the finish line! A great day out and definitely worth travelling for!
The following day we were collected from Sharnitz and spent a couple of days catching up with Robert (MYAU Race Director) and walking in the mountains close to his home – an added bonus of the trip!
Most of the last year has been spent ‘ticking over’ with no winter race planed in 2018 there was no big training push through the autumn and, in fact, we spent the first part of our autumn training season having a fantastic relaxing holiday in Mauritius! I did once again take part in the Equinox 24 in September 2017, once again with the aim of running 100k which I completed by 4am.
In both November and January we had long weekend breaks in Yorkshire – the first in a motorhome, which was successful despite the frosty weather! The second was in a cottage which was perfect for us with the dog – having a very wet start to the break made us realise how difficult and uncomfortable a small motorhome would be in such wet conditions, so despite a good trial we decided to stick with cottage breaks for now! Both of these trips provided some great walks and we noted the second cottage as being ideal for winter race training and have booked a break there in November 2018 for that purpose.
In March 2018 I once again took part in the Four Inns – the team from last year got back together having been running together many times since last years race. It was an eventful start to the event as we managed to miss the start altogether – we were turned around by roadworks and the alternative route took us so far round that when we arrived all the other teams had left. Luckily, we were allowed to start late, and we soon started to catch up with and overtake the slower teams. For the first time in a number of years I wasn’t nauseous or vomiting over Bleaklow, which was a bonus! I even managed to enjoy a hot-dog at the Doctors Gate checkpoint… where, rather embarrassingly, they remembered me throwing up the year before. It was a slow one this year taking almost an hour longer than the previous, but we made it to the end in good spirits and had another great day out.
While training for and taking part in the 4 Inns, the three of us decided we would like to have a go at the Lyke Wake Walk – a 41mile route across the North Yorkshire Moors to the coast. Unfortunately, we were not able to do it the weekend that the official run was organised in July, so instead, the three of us set out to do it in June, with Edwina’s partner Jon as our support and check points. We loaded up the boot of the car with a variety of food and drinks to tuck in to each checkpoint and set out early in the morning. We were extremely lucky with the weather and we had another great day out, finishing at the Lyke Wake stone at the coast where Jon met us with Prosecco and glasses to celebrate our finish – Wendy had been wanting to do the LLW for 40 years, so it really was worth celebrating!
Marianne Heading discovered winter endurance racing in 2007, while working as a volunteer for the Yukon Arctic Ultra. This experience inspired her to take up running and go back to the Yukon as a competitor. Since 2007 she has been back to the YAU 6 times, completing both the 100 and 300mile versions. In 2011 she became the first European female to complete the 300mile YAU! Events are not a regular feature, but other races she has taken part in, include the Semi-Raid Reunion, Roveaneimi150, Four Inns and a number of LDWA and other local events - recoding those taken part in since 2015 here. Being outdoors and enjoying the countryside and wildlife are a higher priority than being fast... luckily! Training runs and walks are often prolonged by a break to do some foraging or to take in the scenery!