Tag Archives: OMM

UK Adventure Sports Magazine

The summer edition of the UK Adventure Sports Magazine is out now with articles from some of my teammates and friends. Nick Gracie profiles the Original Mountain Marathon, Tom Gibbs talks about race strategy and Carrick Armer reports on the Bimbache AR World Series event. I reviewed one day AR packs around the 20 litre mark and was most impressed by the Terra Nova Laser 20, OMM Adventure Light 20 and Inov 8 Race Pro 18.

I’ll post up the extended reviews here when the magazine has been in publication a bit longer, as they had to be drastically shortened to fit tight space in the mag.

The OMM 2008 – Reporting In

Back from racing in the Original Mountain Marathon and briefly have time for a post. This is what I wrote earlier for The Independent, which may feature on Monday 27th October. Will write more in due course.

My Danish race partner, Thure Kjaer, had joked beforehand that it has rained everytime he has been to our green island, but this time the weather forecast had indicated that we were in for some truly exceptional weather. We were racing in the Elite class, (the longest of 7 categories in the race), effectively running a marathon distance, as the crow flies, over the mountains, before camping and completing a similar length of course the next day. We have competed in long adventure races like this for a few years and knew that preparation and selection of the right equipment would be essential. There’s a saying in the outdoors community – “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”, so being well equipped and prepared for the worst conditions as well as adopting a positive attitude is vital to complete the course and to cope with the conditions that prevail.

Being on the longest course we started early on Saturday morning, with conditions breezy, but dry, though we knew things would soon change. As we climbed our first few hills on the lookout for the orienteering flags indicating our checkpoints, we were a bit on the warm side though were comfortable and enjoying the wind in our hair and the great views over the Cumbrian fells. The sun even came out to guide our path, though around 10am conditions changed and the rain began to fall.

The organisers had already taken the sensible step of shortening all the courses reducing our distance and time at altitude significantly and the planners had intelligently created courses that mostly kept us low in the valleys and away from the many high peaks in the area. Mountain marathon runners are a hardy bunch well equipped with studded shoes for secure grip and a mandatory kit list, designed to ensure participants can be self sufficient in the hills for 36 hours. Participants always race in pairs for safety and must meet minimum experience requirements to enter, nevertheless, we realised that some people would find the conditions difficult and may have to take an early decision to realise their limitations and withdraw from the event. We were revelling in the adventure and competition with the teams around us, my Danish teammate enjoying running with a Swedish pair, such is the international reputation of the OMM.

As the afternoon progressed the rain fell heavier, the wind increased and streams became torrents. Good course planning meant that all the major water crossings were possible by bridge, and smaller ones by working together with other teams to form chains for support. On the highest hills it became difficult to continue running and gusts would occasionally blow runners around us off their feet, but we helped each other out and checked on every team we met to make sure they were looking after each other. The camaraderie between teams was admirable and part of the appeal for doing these events. Thankfully visibility was still good and as every competitor had a map and compass, we were able to navigate ourself back to the overnight camp without too many problems, though as we descended, the volume of water in the flooded valleys became ever greater and the waterfalls took on a Himalayan nature. It was possibly the worst sustained weather I had ever been out in but at no point did we feel in any danger: we were well trained and well equipped, despite carrying lightweight gear. We knew those with less experience would carry even more rations and equipment to survive most eventualities. We arrived at the overnight camp after 6 hours of running, to be told that the event had been cancelled and to make our way back by road to the event HQ at Seathwaite Farm. Unfortunately, communications were poor and conditions were ever worsening, meaning that a decision was made by the police to close Honister Pass leaving some participants stuck without transport in the Buttermere Valley, while others had already returned to their cars at the HQ. We managed to get a lift with one of the last cars out of Buttermere before a landslide closed the road, and learned later that others had been taken out to Cockermouth by Emergency Services. The dispersal of people around the area caused the difficulties in accounting for everyone and we were confident that everyone would be safe and dining out on adventure stories for some time to come. The OMM is a fantastic event and I for one will be back in 2009, though my partner would like some sunshine for once!

The OMM Kit List Pondering

Every week we seem to keep saying that autumn has finally set in and summer, (or whatever that thing between spring and now is really called), has left us, but for two weeks running now we’ve had glorious sunny Sundays with the London Rat Race taking place in glorious weather and then Sunday just passed being one  of those blue sky days to remember where we were in the Lake District. Of course, the day beforehand we were sure the apoclypse was on the way and the racers taking part in the Dirty Weekend Adventure in Grizedale, Cumbria were wondering whether arks or kayaks were being supplied during the race.

I’d been feeling rough all week so decided to skip the race and spend a nice weekend with Mrs L in the same area. After a non-event for us on Saturday other than some Adventure Driving on the Lake Districts flooded, narrow roads, we had a glorious little ride up to Skiddaw House above Keswick and around Lonscale Crags. Just wish I’d brought a bloody camera!

Just looking forward to the OMM now and thinking about kit.

Here’s the kit list with my current ideas:

Rucsac – OMM Adventure Light 20

Tent – Polaris Eventlite or Vango Ultralite 200

Sleeping Bag – Macpac Epic 300 or OMM 0.5SSL

Sleeping Mat – Balloon Bed

Full length tights – Skins or iRule Whistlers if weather really cold

Baselayer top – Helly Hansen Lifa Versa

Underwear – Smartwool boxers

Fleece top/warm layer – Patagonia R1 pullover ( or howies NBL Baselayer

Waterproof Trousers – OMM Kamleika (250g)

Waterproof Jacket – OMM Kamleika Jacket (400g) or Smock (300g) – need to decide

Windproof – Depending on conditions I’d probably like a Pertex Quantum Gilet but who makes them? Montane do a Pertex Microlight one…

Hat – Smartwool Training Beanie(40g) – If weather really shit then perhaps need Paramo Balaclava or Lowe Alpine Mountain Hat

Gloves – Smartool Liner Gloves

Socks – Smartwool Running Light Mini Crew (44g) or Bridgedale X-Hale (30g)

Shoes – Inov8 MudClaw 330

Headtorch – Hmm tricky one do I need enough light to navigate in the dark or just enough light to see around the camp? We have a late start so will have to think carefully about this.  Choices are a Petzl Tikka XP (95g) or getting something like a Petzl eLite (27g)

Stove – MSR Pocket Rocket (86g) and some tin foil for wind break

Pans – 2 x foil takeaway dishes (12g) and some tin foil for lid

Other kit – 3 x sealable food bags. Spork. Ear plugs. Casio Altimeter Watch. OMM 500ml water bottle. Plastic camping mug and small karabiner. Tiny amount of first aid supplies