Tuesday, 9 June 2015

How NOT to recce your running route

With the GB relay now kicking off in July, I thought I'd fill a gap in the proceedings with some tips for anyone planning to recce their route in the next few weeks. These are based on my own experiences of a recce for a relay race along the Cotswold Way last Thursday. As you'll gather, it didn't quite go according to plan...

1. When choosing your recce partner, be sure to choose someone who is just as useless as you are at map-reading. This way, you'll both be as clueless as each other when it comes to deciding which way to go and you won't get into any arguments.

2. Print out the map and detailed route description and carry it in your hand. Don't look at it too often though - you might trip if you don't keep your eyes fixed on the path ahead at all times.

3. At the start, instead of going in the direction indicated by the route on the map, go in completely the opposite direction.

4. Talk nineteen-to-the-dozen from the word go, thus missing every possible opportunity to identify a deviation from the planned route.

5. For goodness sake, don't take a compass. That extra 38g will really weigh you down!

6. Those three directions in a row that didn't match up with reality? Don't worry about them. The entire landscape could easily have changed since your map was drawn. Even if you think the elevation seems to be a lot more difficult than the profile suggested, it's probably just because the hills have grown over the years.

7. If you suspect you might have gone the wrong way, don't mention it for at least 15 minutes. You don't want to put a dampener on things.

8. You can confirm your position on the map by matching up fairly generic features like "hedges" and "grass" with those in the route descriptions. It doesn't matter if none of the other, more specific features match up - you probably just missed those whilst you were talking. And if you pass major landmarks, like castles and ancient monuments, that aren't mentioned in the route description, that doesn't matter either. Just assume that the route planner was an uncultured idiot who wasn't interested in that sort of stuff.

9. Carry only enough water for the distance you had planned to run. Again, it will only weigh you down and if you get a bit thirsty you can always beg for a share of the last few drops of your running partner's water. For the same reasons, you don't want to carry a fully charged mobile phone.

10. Only check your position using a GPS-enabled device when you find yourself in the direst of circumstances e.g. when you have already run 10km away from the car you left at the start, in the opposite direction to the car you left at the end, and have no other way of getting home before dark except to run back to the start over the same monstrous hills that have been sucking the soul out of you for the last hour and a quarter.

11. Do, of course, do the opposite of all of these things.


  1. Oh dear sounds like a fun time was had by all!.. Take a print-out of the OS map of the area (Can be done for free through bing maps) as well as a satellite shot, that way you can reconcile the map against real life if you find it difficult to orientate yourself accordingly from one or the other. Also, without a compass north can always be found using a proper watch in daylight: point the hour hand at the sun, then bisect the angle between 12 o'clock and the hour hand and that is north!

  2. Thanks @Shoey. One of the main reasons we carried on for so long without realising was that the route was waymarked, so we were sticking to the Cotswold Way... just in the opposite direction to the one we were supposed to be going in. I'm still not quite sure how we went the wrong way to begin with, but the constant chatter didn't help matters either!