Steppingley Step – 3 November 2013
This triple series had gotten around to the Steppingly Step (see previous reports for Shillington Shuffle and Sundon Saunter for the other two events).
This was a well organised LDWA event, a cheap and cheerful yomp across the Bedfordshire fields and tracks. Plenty of refreshments, and a good feed at the end. The refreshments at the first checkpoint were a little bit unexpected being pre-packaged snacks rather than the usual fare of sarnies, rolls, baps, cakes etc, later explained as being the only option for an outdoor checkpoint (it was a marquee on the back of a pub). However the refreshments at the other checkpoints were of the very high standard of previous events. I must admit, the pre-packed explanation is strange considering the Birmingham Canal Canter (LDWA) has cakes very much in the open, so maybe there was a logistical element as well. Anyway, I’m not complaining, how they do it all on the entry fees I do not know, and it must take a hell of a lot of planning.
The route was self navigation, following relatively clear instructions. Very important to get in the head of the instruction writer though as there were two or three unusual descriptions. Read a few lines ahead, and do not always be too literal. If in doubt, go back and repeat the instructions. Better to turn back and check after 2 minutes of uncertainty than to plough on for another 10 minutes. After a couple of pages of instructions, you get a sense of having gone wrong if you have to struggle to make two sentences in a row "fit" what you can see around you. I had missed a checkpoint and there was mention of a feature within 100m, so when I didn’t see the feature within 1 minute I turned back and the checkpoint had been hidden down a side alley. Some other runners who "knew" the route went a mile further on before having to turn back. A shame, since they had followed the route, but checkpoints is checkpoints! No stamp, at any of the checkpoints, means no completion certificate. One of them had done three doubles earlier in the week, so not a good thing to add another two miles (by three doubles, I mean a marathon in the morning and another in the afternoon, times 3).
The weather on the day was very kind. Dry and cold, and the going underfoot wasn’t too muddy even over ploughed fields. Some tracks were a bit boggy, but relatively easy to pick a clean path through. There were some spectacular views on offer, and some interesting sights (it skirted the new StallagCentreParcs complete with its high fencing, is that to keep us out or the inmates/custodians in?), there were Lama farms and I saw my first proper red toadstool. Ampthill woods was scenic, and managed to find plenty of chestnuts for putting under the grill when I got home. I tried to race a couple of chaps over the last 5 miles and finished in daylight, (though I was prepared for darkness), and I even got paced in by a couple of work colleagues who spotted me as they were cycling past, half a mile before the end.
All in all, a great event and I got a special badge having completed the triple.
Time 6:24:00, a day well spent..
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