LAMM 2005

Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM) on Friday night. I really don’t know any of the mountains round there so wonder what it’s going to be like, didn’t cross my mind that it would be on the Isle Of Mull. Arrive Oban, Friday night, we’re all packed onto and ferry across to Mull and then after a 30 minute or so walk we arrive at the event centre at Torosay Castle. What a superb location!

I knew the course planner and had raced his courses before. His appetite whetter posted a week or so ago suggested this was going to be an orienteers course – ie need strong navigation. Not playing to Alan’s and my strength. Saturday morning dawned with low cloud which would make the navigation even tougher. We were taken by bus to the other side of the Island for our start.

At the start you are given the checkpoints you need to visit. It became apparent some careful navigation using the 1:25,000 map was going to be required. (we’d been issued with a double sided map – 1:40,000 on one side and 1:25,000 on the other).

We set off hitting the first checkpoint no problem. The second we dropped down to a landrover track and then a long climb, we were running well. As we climbed into the mist aiming for a lochan Alans altimeter conked out ;o( … thats not gonna help the navigation. After a little wandering around we found the checkpoint. The next leg was long and fast across a very boggy track to Moy castle from where we would head out to the southern end of the Island and the Laggan Deer Forest where clearly some very tricky navigation was required.

The first checkpoint looked the tougher but more by luck than anything else we found it straight away. The next checkpoint was 1km away, directly east and 10m lower. If we’d had the Altimeter we’d have contoured but as we didn’t we followed a bearing east, we should hit the stream and then just drop down to the checkpoint. Great plan, very poorly executed. In the mist we thought we’d run far enough and that perhaps we missed the top of the stream so we headed down (in hindsight we were only about 50m short of hitting the checkpoint) … a few more wanderings like this and we were lost (ie couldn’t work out precisely where we were on the map). It took us 45 mins to relocate ourselves and find the checkpoint. Massive time lost.

From here no more problems, just some hard slog to finish the route. We were out over 9 hours covering about 30 miles and 1,700m ascent.

The overnight camp was the usual fun. Systematically refuel (pot noodle, soup and cous cous, custard and chocolate digestives – simple food never tastes so good) and get some sleep. Only problem for us was Alan couldn’t find the tent pegs! I wandered the camp to see if various friends had arrived yet hoping to scrounge one or two pegs from each – non of them had arrived. We decided to use rocks. As we walked back from the river laiden with rocks we spotted the pegs on the floor! What’s the saying always come in threes? So, we’d had a broken altimeter and lost (temporarily) tent pegs – what next? The tent we have has 3 very lightweight poles – when we pull them out one is completely snapped and the other has a major fracture! Alan had spotted some duct tape lying around with which we manage a repair that gets the tent up.

Day 2 the cloud was still down but the navigation was alot simpler. We pretty much managed to navigate straight to each checkpoint. It was tough going. I felt exhausted. I think largely due to the length of the previous day. I’d planned my day 1 calorie intake based on 7 hours running and the extra 2 hours probably meant I wasn’t fully refueled for day 2. THe long leg 3 of the route through some tough terrain was a mental challenge.

We finally finished day 2 after just over 6 hours, 19 miles and 1,100m of ascent. We’d made up one place on the second day finishing 15th. It was ok, not as good as last year but respectable.

Definitely will be back for more next year.

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