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.