OMM nom nom... So much food!

This weekend I took part in the first proper Mountain Marathon I have done for a while... The last few times I've done a race called a Mountain Marathon it's been the "Dark Mountains", which involves carrying all the gear but running through the night without actually stopping. I've done this with Jim Mann for the last few years and we've not quite got it right yet!

Anyway, this time it was a proper overnight Mountain Marathon. I was running with my friend Will, who does a bit of running and has finished the OMM once before. Living in London his training had been a bit challenging, but we had a good four hour run out around Stanage and Win Hill last weekend. Very quickly Friday came around and it was time to set off up to Northumberland...

We were on the Medium score course, and after a very comfortable night in the van we packed our bags one last time and walked up to the start for 9:15. After saying for years that we'd do the OMM we were finally there!
The startline
The medium score meant 6 hours on day 1 and 5 hours on day 2. As we started we were given the maps, and struggled for a minute to find where the overnight camp was... It turned out to actually be about 600m from where we were standing! Rather than (as we'd imagined) running north for a day, camping overnight, then turning around and running south for a day back to the finish, we'd be running up, turning around and running south again each day.

Day 1
We set off and ran straight into the woods to our first control. We found it pretty easily and all was good. On to the second one, which unfortunately saw our biggest mistake of the whole race. We ran around a large forest track, then planned to cut off down onto a bridleway which would take us to the next control. Unfortunately we never quite found the bridleway, so we bashed through the woods a bit to find a river, which we crossed, then bashed a bit more through some more woods on the other side. When we got to the top we finally worked out where we were and got sorted out. It cost us maybe 20 minutes, but compared to disasters I've had on my own it was pretty minor. After that we had a good run for the rest of day 1 and finished 7 minutes inside the six hours. The weather for a while in the middle of the day was a bit bleak, but nothing lasted too long and the sun shone eventually!

At about half past 3 we arrived at the campsite. The weather wasn't too bad and we got the tent up while it was relatively dry. After that we relaxed and sat down outside for a while, which let us get a bit cold. We got into the tent and gradually warmed up a bit, just as the weather turned again. It was going to be a long night, but we did have a LOT of food!

The overnight camp
We did make it out of the tent once and had a wander around the barn to look at the results... We were 24th out of 190 starters, and pretty pleased with that! We actually felt warmer once out of the tent, as our sleeping bags and clothes had got a bit damp from the condensation and rain. The wind was gusting very strongly and blowing the rain through the little vents in the tent, which wasn't helping things!

After the last wander around we went back to the tent and enjoyed our freeze-dried meals. Will's curry looked better than my "Beef Hotpot" (which seemed to basically be mashed potato), but the half Malt Loaf pudding was amazing! I think I actually slept reasonably well. I did wake up quite a few times shivering, but I don't remember much between 10pm and hearing the lady with the megaphone telling us it was 6am. Shortly after that we gradually tidied up the tent and put all our clothes on. The wind was still blowing hard and we had all our gear on as we headed for the toilets... Time was tight, but we just about made it to our 8:47 start!

Day 2
Day 2 took us on the same hills as day 1. We'd run about 34km with 1600m of ascent on the first day, and it turned out that though we would run less distance, we'd actually climb more on the second day. Will found day 2 a bit touch, particularly the penultimate climb, which was his least favourite... Not many boggy tussocky climbs in London to practice on. We'd decided on quite an ambitious route on day 2 and by the time we'd reached to top of Will's least favourite hill we'd hit the 5 hour limit and were into penalty points. However, the route we'd chosen meant it was worth losing a few points - as long as we finished in under 6 hours we wouldn't lose enough points to make a shorter route better. One more descent, some more tussocks, a final big climb in sight of the finish and we were onto the run for home!

We joined the track we'd walked up to on our way to the start, knowing it was only about a kilometer to the finish. Soon we were running through the event centre and having to jump out of the way to avoid people already leaving, but we were nearly there! We finished the second day in well under 6 hours, meaning it had been worth it. We ended up with 742 points in total, giving us a final position of 32nd. We were pretty chuffed with this, and I think it's particularly good given Wills distinctly urban training!

The OMM was a great event, and after 8 years since I last did it I think I might have another go sometime soon... In the meantime, I think I'm still hungry!

I saw plenty of friends at the event, and some had great runs. Nic Barber and Andy Llwellyn smashed it (as the kids say), winning the A class by more than two hours(!), and Oli Johnson and Neil Northrop ran a great race to finish second in the Elite class. Unfortunately Adam Perry and partner Steve Birkinshaw lost their checkpoint dibber somewhere on day 1 so were disqualified, and Jim Mann and Duncan Archer suffered an injury and didn't start day 2.


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