Runners navigation

SHR Navigation course for runners, 9-10 March 2019

A blog post from one of our mountain adventures in the Scottish hills and mountains. Scottish Hill Runners 2-day navigation course in the Pentlands Steven Fallon was leading.

SHR Navigation course for runners

Day 1

Scottish Hill Runners had asked me to put on their Navigation for Runners event. It's early March and they like to hold it before the year's running season really kicks in. There's always a lots of preparation that goes into getting this event working. But it's well worth it when we see people navigating well while having fun while running in the Pentlands.

For me, the event began the week prior to the event - buying supplies (including jaffa cakes, but more on this later), putting together maps, laminating cards, making flags, sourcing projector and making sure the powerpoint slides are correct and up-to-date. On the Friday evening, in sunshine, I enjoyed a bit of a run in the Pentlands putting out controls for Sunday's mini mountain marathon course - just as well I only wanted to put out a few, as rain and wind blew in - fingers crossed the weekend wouldn't turn out like this.

On the Saturday, myself and a group of 8 met at the Flotterstone Inn. We had the Inn's function room for the mornings' 'classroom' sessions and a cosy, warm place it was too. The Inn supplied tea, coffee and biscuits, to which I added a double bag of jaffa cakes - but they went missing - odd, did we have a jaffa cafe addict in our group ? Saturday was all about getting the basics of navigation right, so maps first (lots to choose from see this blog post for more info), then compass, followed pacing vs timing and introducing a few techniques.

Onto the hills next ! It was a fairly bright afternoon to be out. After sorting out our pacing, we headed up towards Capelaw Hills, looking at landforms (re-entrants - there's so many around), practicing the '4 Ds' and squaring the circle on the way. Up onto the summit, the last exercise of the day was to walk/run on bearings to various points, everyone getting to the final point at roughly the same time.

There were a couple of Carnethies in the group who knew the route back to Flotterstone from here, so of the group jogged. Meanwhile I continued marking the remaining controls for Sunday's course, this time in sunshine.

Day 2

Sunday began in Flotterstone Inn again, it was snowing heavy ! The jaffa cakes had magically appeared (they'd fallen of the shelf I'd layed them on and the Inn owner put them out) ! Today's emphasis was on running navigation techniques - types of hill races, working as a team, route choice, nutrition, what to do when it goes wrong (ie search techniques) and more. The 'classroom' finished with plotting the course for the mini mountain marathon and discussing the options for the ideal route choice.

Time to get into warm and waterproof gear and get running !

Out onto the hills, the snow had stopped and I caught up with the group at the first (and probably most difficult) checkpoint. Although paired up, the group was working more-or-less together with everyone following much the same line. Snow and hail came in for checkpoint 4 (south of Glencorse Reservoir), but it passed by checkpoint 5 (Gask Hill summit) and sun shone through. Some really good navigation was taking place and everyone seemed to be enjoying the day. The final descent down to Flotterstone was in driving snow once more, but as your can tell by out faces at the end, we had a blast !

In total, the route was around 23km with some 950m ascent.

More photos by Steven Fallon are here on Flickr.

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