I find myself in a tiny club in Kendal, the lights are on a bit too brightly and I can't help but notice that I'm dancing next to some of the best sports athletes, outdoor brand managers and amateur outdoor enthusiasts in the game whilst being surrounded by 5ft high piles of brightly coloured down and Gore tex jackets - this is Kendal Mountain Festival.
The Kendal Mountain Festival (KMF) is a 4 day event showing an array of outdoor films, talks and demonstrations. There's loads to do for free or you can pay to watch the films. The event is one of the best opportunities to hang out and talk with like minded outdoor people and professionals a like.
I spent my KMF mostly taking advantage of the Lowe Alpine Bothy, where Lowe Alpine had joined forces with the BMC to host talks, a live art installation and a few party's. Working with the BMC, they currently have the #makewintercount campaign ongoing, promoting getting out this winter, so they had a great few talks on winter mountaineering and skiing which I enjoyed.
One of the best things I found to watch was the Moon Board sessions. It's possibly the future of training in the climbing gym, enabling an incredible array of routes to be had from the same setup and the use of LEDs to indicate what holds are in use on the route, all controlled by an app.
Watching people like Alex Megos and Molly climbing with Neil Grensham and Ben Moon it was amazing to see how the younger generation are so strong from climbing indoors at the gym and how their powerful and dynamic style differed from the slightly older generation mostly known for their outdoor ascents. As a climber, it was truly inspiring watching these athletes so close up.
I actually got a chance to climb on the Moon board on the Sunday morning with Ben Moon himself choosing the routes and helping me to ascend them.
I capped off my KMF with the Q&A session with Sir Chris Bonington. It was really great to see how excited he still is to climb and his determination to keep it up.
If you didn't go this year, here's 3 reasons to go next year:
1. See, meet and hang out with the pros! It's not often they are all in one area for you to have a chat with.
2. Whether it be climbing/running/hiking/mountaineering/skiing/mountain biking, there are films for you, stands for you and other people just as excited as you to talk to. At the end of the day, what's half of the point of doing all these adventures if we can't share the stories with other people?
3. It's FREE, yes you do have to pay if you want to watch the films, BUT, I did the whole festival without actually going to see a single film and still had a great time!
I am sure I will be back next year and am already looking forward to the Keswick Mountain Festival in the summer!
The Kendal Mountain Festival hosts a 10k trail run on the Saturday morning, going from the town centre over Scout Scar and back down into the town via the golf course.
I had never raced before at all in running and I decided the KMF trail 10k sounded like a nice race to start with. I've only relatively recently started to run, just over a year of the odd mountain run but more recently running on the road for training and running longer distances in the mountains at weekends. I was hoping that this combination 5k road training runs (twice a week) and a longer mountain or road run on the weekend would set me up for the race.
I was planning to be at the Mountain Festival anyway so I thought I would give it a go, not really knowing what to expect or how I might compare to other runners. I decided to scope the route a couple of weeks beforehand and I am glad I did, the first 2km of the race are up two steep hills on the road, taking it out of your legs if you don't take it steady!
I was able to stick to the pace I aimed to keep and achieved the time I wanted. It was an excellent course and easy to enter, anyone thinking about running a race, even if you don't consider yourself a racer, should give it a go. Don't believe me, here's 5 reasons:
1. It's a great atmosphere, no one claps you at the end of your run normally!
2. You get given a race number, instant pro look!
3. It gives you something to train for, it was the motivation I sometimes needed to make me stick to my training schedule.
4. Your run is timed so you actually know how long it takes you to run a distance, but the distance is never exact, it will be longer!
5. Bragging rights and conversational topic for at least a month or two.
After doing this race I am already wanting to book another trail event up. More importantly, I hope you will be wanting to book a race too!