Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A race recce and lessons learnt

What an adventure the social run turned out to be! Mostly for the wrong reasons...
The plan was to recce the route of the Hardmoors Osmotherly 10km in preperation for the race in Feb. I opened the invite to club members and 12 hardy Harriers gathered in Osmotherly Sunday morning as planned, despite the terrible weather forecast.
The route leaves the village on road, but soon turns onto track as it heads into Oakdale. Past the first reservoir then a sharp left up behind the farmstead and a short climb onto rough pasture.
The rain was icy and was whipping in sideways on the high winds. We forged on along the track, crossing a minor road and onto another track which runs high above the Cod Beck reservoir.
The wind was (thankfully) mostly behind us, it was strong enough to carry us along and was now bringing in horizontal sleet and snow.
Young Ryan and Gavin turned back, taking a more sheltered route down to the reservoir and back to the village. We carried on. I was running towards the back to keep Phillip on track and the faster runners were pulling further and further ahead.
We regrouped in the shelter of the Sheep Wash at the northern end of the reservoir. I said if anyone was piss wet through and too cold, to turn back along the road. The distance would be about the same, but the route far more sheltered from the wind and rain. No-body wanted to turn back. I was pleased as wanted to run the full route.
So, another short road section, being blown along by the wind, then another climb onto Scarth Nick Moor. The wind as we turned the corner almost took me off my feet! I waited for Phillip so he didn't get lost and we crossed the moor, being buffeted continually by the wind all the way. 'We'll be sheltered when we reach the trees' I yelled over the gale.
I was wrong.
It was wet in the woods, and there wasn't much shelter given by the low wall and spindly trees.
At last we hit Beacon Hill, I left Phillip and took off downhill, splashing through the liquid mud and puddles and generally enjoying myself!
The faster runners were already heading back to the cars, so I threw my keys at Nikki then waited for Phillip once more. The last mile is across a muddy field, then down the hill into the village.

People were cold and wet enough to abandon the idea of going for cake. I on the other hand was warm and dry inside my termals and waterproofs and could have gone round again!
I got changed and into the car. Nikki looked really miserable, and broke into tears a few times on the way home. She'd cycled to the meeting point in town, but I was going to take her straight home. Then, just a few minutes away from home, she started passing out and shaking uncontrollably, obviously hypothermia  Ah.
Turned around and back to Northallerton and the A+E department, Becky rung Nikki's husband Steve and Julie wrapped her up in all the spare clothing we had. Once at the hospital, after an initial frosty reception, they got Nikki in a nice warm room and onto warm drip and air. Steve arrived and we handed over to him, with strict instructions to let us know when they were out.
(I'm pleased to say Nikki was at training on Monday looking quite chipper)

Since then, all sorts of 'what ifs?' and 'could haves' have gone through my mind. I'm in no doubt we did exactly the right thing, and the girls in my car all worked together in a wonderful calm fashion, I'm very proud of them.
But even so-
Should I have just cancelled the run given the weather forecast?
Should I have taken control at the Sheepwash and turned us around out of the wind and wet sooner?
Should we have gone for a cuppa after all, but then there's the possibility it was already too late and we would have involved the cafe staff and an ambulance?
If we'd had a flask of hot drink in the car, would it have helped?
What if we'd got her home, then she passed out? We didn't know if Steve was actually at home at the time.

What I found a little scary, is how quickly she went from being cold and miserable, to being in danger.
Speaking to another member of the group, David, he said he was struggling with cold, but he was by himself and driving. There's a lot to be said for car sharing!
It's reinforced in me the need for correct kit selection (like I said, I was warm and dry) but also, to be better prepared for emergencies. A space bag and a hot drink would have been very useful. Thankfully we were in the car and out of the weather when things turned bad, but if we'd been out on the moor still, it could have been a lot worse.
I have (very basic) first aid training, and I was confident that I knew what to do, but there's no harm in taking it to the next level. I've pondered before about taking the Summer Mountain Leadership Course, I wonder if there is something similar for runners.

Anyway, this has become a long winded rambling post about what could have happened, and didn't, and I don't even have any pictures to share, so I'm signing off!

Here is a link to a very good article on Hypothermia, how to spot it and what to do - Hypothermia in Fell Runners

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