The tragic circumstances around Chris Smiths' failure to return home after his run and subsequent death has brought the subject to mind (again).
Since my husband, Paul has done his MTB leader course, and his outdoor first aid, we've discussed it frequently. We're both bad for taking off without giving any idea of when we'll be back or often, even where we're headed, let alone a full route.
Since our last discussion here I now have a medical info tag attached to the back of my hydration vest with ICE details in it as well as my name and date of birth.
I also now carry a tiny first aid kit. My kit used to comprise 3 wet wipes and nothing more, and to be fair, even though I've had a few falls this year it served. However there's no guarantee that I'm going to be the casualty, I could come across someone else in trouble and I'd rather have some things with me.
After being out for 3:45hrs in the awful conditions Weds, I have to admit that if I'd fallen or had to stop for any length of time I would have had real issues with the conditions. Although I was fine moving, I had to keep moving.
I'm now resigned to the fact that I will take my larger pack for winter runs expected to be over 10 miles/2hrs with an emergency bothy bag (it's actually much smaller and lighter than expected) along with a dry bag containing the prev first aid kit, dry gloves/spare buff). I may also go back to using a dedicated navigation device, leaving the phone battery unused if needed.
Of course no one goes out expecting to run into trouble but if a professional fell/mountain runner in great condition can come unstuck (of course we don't know what happened) on a 2 hr run it should give us all a moment of reflection at the very least.
A phone is great, unless you smash it/use its battery, or are unconscious for any reason. A phone won't keep you warm if things do go wrong.
I'm still not going to be great with my Failure to Return plan but I will now at least give Paul a time by which he should at least have heard from me. I often send him location updates and he can see my location on Google so unless my phone is smashed he should be able to see where I last was. I'll still change my route on the fly if I want, go longer/shorter but at least there will be a line drawn by which time I will have made contact even if it's to say I'm running late, after which if there is no contact he needs to alert the relevant help.
Some may think this is overkill, but it's the way the professionals do it. Chris Smith himself advised a return time of 5pm. That came and went. We'll never know what time help was called, or if it may have helped. We don't know what gear, if any he had.
Obviously on short runs, closer to home the risk is much decreased, but if you're out places where you might not see people, especially in unclement conditions, its something to think about, sadly.