SARAH ROWELL: 51st ORIGINAL MOUNTAIN MARATHON
The last weekend in October for most people means an extra hour in bed as the clocks go back; more importantly for 2,000 or so mountain people, it means the OMM weekend. Two days of working in pairs, looking after yourself, finding checkpoints and hopefully making it back to the overnight campsite or event centre each day before it is either dark or the courses close.
This latter point had resonance, as last year at the event’s 50th anniversary we (along with the majority of other teams) had failed to complete day 1 due to some pretty severe weather and very low mist. Having now clocked up 17 OMMs, the majority with my regular partner Wendy (who has well over 40 OMMs under her belt…) its clear that, given the time of year the event is held, getting things right re: kit before you start can be just as – if not more – important than your route choice and navigation during the event in terms of whether you successful finish or not.
With this year being projected to be clear (good news), sunny (even better), cold (ok), with strong winds (not so ok) and possible snow showers (ugh), keeping warm was going to be key. Not just when on the hills, but also overnight – trying to start out on the Sunday with frozen feet or hands is not much fun.
For the first time ever this year, I therefore succumbed, swallowed my pride and started in long leggings.
It was absolutely the right decision, not only did it mean that my shins did not (as frequently happens) get ripped to sheds by heather/bracken/gorse, it also meant that even when the snow showers turned out to be longer and heavier than predicted I did not need to resort to putting on my over trousers (Montane Minimus ).
Day 1, therefore, was pretty successful and we finished in just under 8 hours on the A class, having had no major navigational ‘cockups’. The campsite, while sheltered was cold and windy. While I felt warm in my sleeping bag I was conscious that I had all my available clothes bar my waterproofs, plus the combination of wind and temperature meant, like most people I had a pretty damp sleeping bags by the morning. At least this was better than those who had ice crystals in their tent frozen water.
Day 2, once my hands had been through the painful blood returning to fingers cycle (my mistake – should have set off wearing my minimus mitts) went well if with slightly less precision on the nav, giving us 20th out of 40 teams who finished and first vet team.
My own experience and seeing the number of retirees in the results were both statutory reminders that getting your kit right for the mountains is essential, not just to make it more fun, more importantly to be able to complete what you set out to do