01 November 2011

original mountain marathon: perthshire

i have a love/hate relationship with the omm. there's a subtle undertone of masochism about it. held the last weekend in october the weather is very likely to be wet and wild, the clocks go back gifting you an extra hour in a small damp tent and the size of the event means there are long muddy queues for everything*. the fact that this year's base camp was stationed at an old prisoner of war camp only added to atmosphere. with this in mind fast forward to saturday early afternoon or death march as i like to call it.
grim faced, head down, rain finding its way in between the layers, almost every step is at least ankle deep in cold boggy water. i am struggling to find anything enjoyable about the experience. jane is doing a brilliant job at navigating, visibility is as low as my morale. apparently we're in the hills of perthshire, we could have been anywhere. anywhere that's cold and wet and soggy under foot. it wasn't until i started chatting to another team that i realised quite how grumpy i was feeling. they were both smiles and laughter. it was their first mountain marathon. they'll learn**.
strangely we didn't seem to be climbing much, or descending much for that matter. just monotonous grassy knolls with the odd waist high burn crossing and bog extraction to keep things interesting. did i mention it was raining and the water cold? i began to worry about having enough food, jane began to worry about reaching the mid camp before dark. we both silently began to worry about actually finishing the bloody thing. not quite survival mode but it was jelly babies every fifteen minutes. a real effort made to see the funny side.

eventually we made it to the mid camp. pitching up in the gloaming, some 7 and half hours after setting off. at this point jane got cold. very cold. unable to stop shivering. two sleeping bags and many, many hot drinks later hypothermia is staved off. we settle down to an evening of david sedaris and rehydrated noodles. it's still raining by the way. every time i leave the tent i'm unable to remember which tiny green shape is ours. wandering around in the dark calling jane's name, waiting for her to signal me towards my bed. the third time this happened i could hear other folk laughing at me. i would have been laughing too, except i was wearing jane's only dry piece of clothing and it was getting wet. a late night toilet trip reveals that somehow we've made it into the chasing start, being less than 1.5hrs behind the lead female team. ours spirits are lifted but it may have been the whisky. exhausted and physically drained sleep came easily.

woken by bagpipes at dawn, feeling almost refreshed but concerned about what we were going to wear. everything was still sodden but it had actually stopped raining. after much faff we made it to the start. just. my turn to navigate, fortunately the cloud was low rather than down. no cockups, a few big ups and a few craggy views snatched. day2 was shaping up to be a real mountain marathon of a day.
i think it started to rain again, it was certainly a little windy. routes to check points were now 2 person wide sloppy trods. half an hour wouldn't go by without one of us falling over. concepts of dry and upright were being altered, the boundaries of pleasure being pushed. another 7 hour + day on the hill, did we bite off more than we can chew? i'm not sure. scores on the doors, 60/96, out of 120 odd starters and 5th female team in b class. over recovery peri-peri chicken jane was already talking of 'next year'. personally i think she is confusing a sense of satisfaction with a sense of fun!***

*considering the number of teams involved the organisation is impressive.
** sadly they retired after day1. i recon they'll be back!

*** jane has proof read this for me, her first comment "but it makes it sound like you didn't enjoy it"!!!! exactly. but i loved the nandos in sterling.

me, enjoying my hobby.


simondbarnes said...

That sounds properly grim! Well done for finishing. Like the pics too :)

Yak Hunter said...

oh dear, this is confirming what i always suspected! An enjoyable read anyway - and the photo of the Nissan hut is top...at least there weren't any midges!

Jane said...

Well I thought it was brilliant (apart from the near hyperthermia) proper navigation in the clag, tough route choices, varied terrain, racing to finish on Sunday before the course closed. What more could you ask for? And nearly running out of food means that you took exactly the right amount anyway.

Looks like I need a new OMM partner for next year, A class anyone?

jumbly said...

Ha! Have this vision of Jane dangling Nandos loyalty card in front of you. No OMM, no chicken, them's the rules!

You know you'll be back, you love it.

Richard said...

Well done. I don't recall much fun at the last one I did. Wind,rain, suffering etc.
All good though.

ultra collie said...

hardcore girls. totally. you deserve medals. and counselling ;)

Groover said...

Right up there with root tooth infection and grocery shopping... not my idea of fun! Not even any cake? Ghee, Kate! No wonder you didn't enjoy this! ;)

SS:Mtn Biker said...

AWESOME read\post,my friend! Much respect to you as well. cool pics,you look stoked in the last one (it seems more of a lifestyle than a "hobby" though :) ),good show :)


kate said...

simon- it was and thanks.

yak hunter- yeh, sorry about that but you're right, the up side is nae midges. definitely a challenge if you can find a willing partner.

jane- well if you're planning on a class....

jumbly- yes i am that simple. about to start a campaign to bring nandos to chez vegas...then i'll never have to leave ;)

rich- thanks. definitely one of those 'enjoyment after' type events!

uc- thanks and yes to both please!!

groover- exactly! they had advertised tea and cake at the end, we got soup and a kitkat. not the same ;)

ss- more of a grimace i'm afraid!

sbrt said...

Hope you have dried out.

Ray and I were thinking about the 2012 OMM but you are not quite selling it to us.

R U Mini MMing? The next one is the end of November, Starting from Hayfield.

Martin Rye said...

Run around in the mud, wet and cold. You paid to do that!. Well done and as always running in the hills is a good walk rushed.

Derby Tup said...

Well done for hanging in there! It sounds a tough outing

kate said...

sbrt- fell shoes are still outside! as for other mm, you guys should do either the lamm or highlander. they are the best. fact. was hoping to do some minis but unable to make any until the new year. good luck!

martin- it was a good test of kit that's for sure!!

derby tup- thanks. already started to forget how much i didn't enjoy it ;)

Gaynor said...

Looks horrendous, but that's why you love it, oh mad one! You doing HPM again?

Hayfella said...

So glad you wrote this, I was beginning to think a mountain marathon might be a fun thing to try! Thankfully you've knocked that on the head. Well done to you both

kate said...

gaynor- i don't know what you're talking about ;) and yes to the hpm which will be a lot more fun than the omm. guaranteed :) have you got a speedy team together? i think simon r. was interested??

hayfella- haha, no to the omm but a massive YES to all other mountain marathons :)

swiss said...

just up the road. i could've cycled up. actually, given the weather maybe not! glad to see you're enjoying all our mud!

kate said...

i did think of contacting you but then realised the state we'd be in and the likely dark hour it might be pushing the 'kindness of strangers' ;) .....we went to nandos in sterling instead! ....are you 'puffering?