OMM 2009

This was my third attempt at the OMM. The first time I failed to start after catching a virus a few days previously and hence spent the whole weekend in a sleeping bag in a tent. The second time, we failed to finish because the race was called off due to the weather. This time, I was wondering whether yet again I would not complete as my partner decided to postpone the next great mountain marathon due to injury.

But all worked out well, I ended up running with Mark from the Dark Peak Fell Runners. He kept reminding me that he was much older than me (by almost twice), but he was still pretty quick and having run the BG round last year, he was pretty fit. We met a couple of hours before the race began at the registration desk.

Just to remind those folk who aren’t in the know, the OMM is generally classed as the hardest mountain marathon of the year due to the weather, dark nights and often wet conditions underfoot. I had opted for the B course and Richard had chosen the elite course with Alex (with whom he ran the Saunders MM). Both courses were line courses, (i.e. find the controls in the correct order), the B course was about 50 k and the elite was about 70 k, over the two days.

Mark and I had a ridiculous start time, 11.52. This was very late, we were almost the last to start. This was good, firstly because the cloud lifted and secondly because by the time we got on the fells there was a path the width of a small country road along the most obvious route. Unfortunately the ground had got somewhat churned up by the many feet which had previously passed and hence it was rather hard work at times. I lost count of how many times I fell over and I am still trying to get the peat out of my finger nails! Nevertheless we ploughed on and finished the 26 km in 4.75 hrs. We might have been a bit quicker if Mark hadn’t packed all but the kitchen sink.

At the campsite, we put up the tent and then the heavens opened …. the rain eventually stopped when it got dark. It was pure chance that I found Richard wandering around the results, otherwise I would never have spotted him in his little green tent amongst all the other little green tents. It was a cold night. I wore everything – tights, waterproof trousers, thermals, jumper, gloves, hat and I was still chilly. I’ll take the heavy sleeping bag next year. We were second mixed team overnight and 17th overall.

The second day was slightly shorter, but with more climb (although the amount of climb was not huge compared to other mountain marathons). We trudged on, although I think we both were a bit tired. Our time for the second day was a bit slower than our first days time, which may have reflected our level of tiredness, but may also have reflected the fact that we were trail-making all day, as only 16 teams had gone before us, compared to the 230 teams the day before! We finished in 5 hrs 20 and collected 26th place overall, 4th mixed team.



I have posted some really bad pictures of the maps (sorry) and also a picture of Richard … this is what running the elite course does to you! We didn’t take the camera on the course … we were running light.

Richard and Alex did extremely well and completed the elite course in under 13 hours and finished in a highly respectable 18th place.


15 thoughts on “OMM 2009”

  1. well done. the weather didn’t look great at the w/e………… and what’s wrong with the picture of Richard??? A few whiskies and I end up like that every night!! 😯

  2. I’d always wondered about following someone else’s trail in these sorts of events. It levels the playing field a bit (ouch) if the faster you are on the first day, the less chance you have to get hints from what other teams have done. Lovely photo of the giant bean bag dweller.

  3. So was day 2 like a motorway for you Jon? waiting patiently for your report! Did you enjoy number 10 on Sunday – the one at the bottom if the hill? – that must have been pretty slimy when you got there?

    1. Yeah, that’s the control that sticks in my head – no need for that sort of sillyness 👿 It was pretty slick going down, so I just bum slid!

      The walk back up was good though – I’d been half asleep for the previous two hours and it woke me up for the final push to the finish – great fun on the run in!

  4. Well done you lot. I joined the car park otherwise known as the M6 on Saturday to visit my parents, and I cleaned the house on Sunday… but I was thinking of you running round the fells.

    Which course did you run Jon?

    Now, in the spirit of being consistent (and I’m surprised that Pete hasn’t said anything), here’s an exam question:
    Competitors in the OMM, like the Three Peak Challenge, may consider the environmental issues of getting to and from the event, but is consideration of the effect on the landscape forgotten? Discuss….

    😉 😉

    I found an interesting link on the OMM site, but it’s every old.
    … and a more recent one

  5. The effect of all those feet you mean? I think score classes are a lot more friendly on the ecosystem – they do not leave boggy paths running over the fells. They involve too much thinking for me though 🙂

    The landowner was at the prize giving and he was really grateful that we’d been trampling his hills all weekend and he was proud of the fact that the Elan Valley was open access prior to any other open access area in the country, so it seems that we didn’t upset the locals

    I think long term effects on the ecosystem would be marginal….that is relative to the damage already done by human invasion … prior to invasions there would have been no dammed lakes and probably boreal forest covering the hills!

    and finally, just think what all those runners would have been doing otherwise … contributing to landfill sites, burning fossil fuels…


  6. For orienteering events my club has gone back a week after an event to see what impact it has had (usually to convince the land owner that we haven’t damaged their woods), and apart from places like the start-finish, it’s often very hard to even spot where the controls were, let alone the routes between them. For orienteering we make an effort to reduce the impact in any one area by limiting the number of competitors that visit any particular control.

    The OMM is the largest of the mountain marathons, and certainly does have a visible impact much larger than any of the others. No amount of splitting up courses will prevent elephant tracks forming with 200-300 teams per course. This year also seemed particularly bad for dragging competitors on all courses on the same route. I’ve not seen highways like the ones this weekend before (and hopefully won’t see them again). There is some impact, and I certainly have the impression this is a concern. Particularly sensitive sites are avoided, and normally legs are chosen to provide route choice, which splits up teams. Unfortunately, virgin terrain was so difficult to move fast on for parts of this year’s course that people naturally followed the tracks. Perhaps this is a sign that this isn’t a suitable area for such a big race.

  7. …and yes, I really was that tired. The first day I blew up about 2/3 of the way around, and just followed Alex for the next two hours. I also had an exciting time on the final descent when I lost my sense of balance and had to sit down for a bit to recover.

    Day two was better–it was Alex that followed me around for the latter stages, although I don’t think he ever got as useless as I was on day one.

    The Elite class is hard. I’m not sure if I’d do it again. I can’t imagine doing it at the speed of the top teams.

    1. You said that you wouldn’t do the Rogaine again either… you’re getting old Richard. No worries though, I’ll enter you for some different races instead (surely I can find one that is worse)

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