Last autumn Bodil and Lisa took on the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) which was held in Galloway Forest Park, Glentrool, Scotland. Read about how they got on during this test of endurance and navigation..
What are mountain marathons?
Mountain marathons are generally two day running events where competitors have to be entirely self sufficient (i.e. carry all of their food/water and camping kit) and navigate their way around a series of checkpoints. The location of the event is usually only released a few weeks in advance and the exact route is only revealed to you on the start line. We like to think of it as a giant treasure hunt and they are great fun!
There are two overall formats for the race: score class and linear. Score class where you are are given a time limit and have to get to as many checkpoints as you can within the time limit. Each checkpoint has a number of points associated with it; if you are late back to camp your points are steadily lost. The team with the biggest score at the end of the weekend wins. The other format is linear, this is where you have to go to set checkpoints in a particular order, there is no time limit. The team who completes the course fastest wins. At the last year OMM there were a number of classes in each format. Long, medium and short score (7+6hrs, 6+5hrs and 5+4hrs each day respectively), elite, A, B and D linear classes (elite is the longest at roughly 85km, then A~ 65km etc.). There was also the combined or C course which we competed in. This course was mostly linear but had an element of choice thrown in: we had to visit 4 out of 6 checkpoints in the middle of the course.
If it is your first Mountain Marathon, your best bet is probably to start with a score class. This way you know how long you will be out for each day and can prepare accordingly. A linear course can add up to much more distance/time than anticipated if you make navigational errors…
What did we do well, what should we improve on?
We have both competed in mountain marathons before, but this was our first time doing a linear course. We thought we had been quite conservative signing up for C class but we were out for much longer than expected; we ran 30km day 1 (in about 7hrs 40mins) and 24km (about 5hrs) day 2 with no major detours. As we have been training hard this year we were able to cope with this distance and time on the hill pretty well and we enjoyed the course. In linear class there is less decision making stress than score class, however it does have the added pressure that you HAVE to find the checkpoints. In score class you can just move on if you can’t find one.
The weather conditions were pretty challenging. Although it was warm for the end of October, which was nice for getting good sleep at the overnight camp, it was quite foggy which made finding the checkpoints difficult. Our nav was pretty good except at one checkpoint, but we weren’t the only people having trouble finding it! We also had trouble in the forest section at the end of day2, something to practice!
At the end of day one we were amazed to find ourselves placed as the first ladies team! We had tried hard but without pushing ourselves for a win. However, we were only 48 seconds ahead of the next team. On day two our competitive sides came through, we gave it our all and secured our position – all the hard work paid off!
Wondering what kit we carried? See our blog post!
Want to find out more?
Check out the OMM webpage – 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the race – guaranteed to be a fantastic event. The BBCs adventure show also featured 2016s OMM in episode 6. Watch it here. Sadly Bo and Lisa don’t feature but you can see Corin‘s smiley face at 08:14!
There are also plenty of other mountain marathon events including: the Great Lakeland 3day 29th April-1st May 2017, the LAMM in the Scottish higlands 3rd/4th June 2017, the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon 1st/2nd July 2017 and the ROC (formerly Rab) Mountain Marathon 23rd/24th September 2017.
For those wanting to have a go at these orienteering-style events without committing to a whole weekend, there are also ‘mini MM’ events which are usually just a few hours. These include the Kong mini MM series, the OMM-LITE series, and the local Peak Raid series. Corin recently competed in the Kong event in the Lake District – read about how she found it here!