The other weekend saw my 10th time at the KIMM / OMM:

2008 – Borrowdale (“C” class)
2007 – Lowther Hills (“A” class)
2006 – Galloway Forest Park (Short Score)
2005 – Eastern Lake District (Medium Score)
2004 – Brecon Beacons (Long Score)
2003 – Langholme (Medium Score)
2002 – Cheviot (“B” class)
2001 – Clyde Muirshiel (Medium Score)
2000 – Lake District (Medium Score)

The whole thing started when myself, Alan Kelly & Lee(roy) Gilbertson were out for a long Sunday run back in July 2000. We were doing a tour of the parks on the southside of Glasgow when I mentioned that I had read about the KIMM …next day saw an entry form being posted. It has kinda become a habit every since. Another habit has been a mad journey from getting an accepted entry to actually getting to the start line – most years involves a change of partner …and sometime class of entry …sometime both !

This year was no different but with an added twist …and I mean that literally. On the Monday evening before the event, I decided a little nigh orienteering event was in order to brush up on the nav. The first 4 controls went ok but as I ran along “easy” ground I put my foot in a hole and fell down a banking (but leaving my foot at the top). The result was a badly swollen and bruised ankle. Thankfully two days of rest / ice / compression and a good Bioskin Brace got it well enough to wobble towards the start line.

This year saw a return to Wales – the Elan valley this time and for the first time in the “mixed” category due to racing with my wee sister (who should have been racing with Joe Coll). The drive south was ok and we were soon fed and watered. Felt rather smug kipping in the van whilst some folks tried to find a bit of ground to camp on.

Next morning we grabbed some breakfast before heading to the bus for transfer to the start. Map issue we planned the first couple of controls and headed up the hill only for a gust of wind to whip the map from Irene ensuring a monty python style sprint across the hillside – not the best start to the day. Pacing was adjusted to a point where we could breathe …well once Irene had reduced her heart rate to something sustainable anyway. We broke left and off towards the first control. Previously on the OMM, Irene had gone badly over time and we chose a very conservative route but with a couple of options towards the end. We dropped down towards the southern stream control before noticing that we had gone a bit far west and had to traverse round to the correct stream GRRRRRR. The next few controls were fairly straightforward and we ended up about 3km from the midcamp with around 90 minutes to go. The question was to either drop down onto an easy track and pick up a single control or go onto some unknown ground and try for two. We discussed the choice and played it safe whilst two girls who we had been chatting to took the risky option. With no time pressure we jogged down the road before climbing up to the last control of the day …in pouring rain (we had hoped to get to the camp dry) before the last ramble down to the finish of Day 1.

Mid-camp was great – nice level ground beside (but sufficiently above) the river. Did the usual eat / sleep / eat / sleep thing before the bar was opened (a rather nice Jura whisky) and another eat / sleep cycle. Enjoyed a great view of the stars and pleased to report not a single balloon failure during the night

Walking up to the start of Day 2 we wondered how much route choice there was going to be with only 4 hours to get to the finish. As we waited, we got talking to the two girls that had taken the risky option at the end of Day 1 …they confirmed that the underfoot conditions were brutal but that they had made it in on time.

The horn indicated the clock was ticking again and we chose our first control but took a line which would have meant a significant loss in height to pick up the track – oops. Re-planned a slightly longer route to a re-entrant control and continued to climb. Along with a number of other teams, we lost a fair bit of time locating the exact re-entrant. A quick estimate on distance / remaining time indicated that if we stuck to the initial plan, we would be over time at the finish. Not the best but as always, there was another option – once again, we dropped down onto a track to make up quick progress towards the finish. Thankfully, it gave an opportunity to pick up a nice 30 point control on the way back up to the high ground. It was about this time we entered some of the most horrible tussocks I have ever encountered. Sadly for Irene, she missed me disappearing head first over one and into a rather damp bog. With the next control punched, we had another significant choice – descent over the tussocks and away from the ridge leading to the finish for another 20 point control or head up to the ridge line where the running would be good. Fairly happy with progress to date and not looking for an epic, we missed the 20 point control and headed up. Once on the ridge the last long descent was very easy indeed and we rolled across the line with loads of time to spare …and again in hindsight could have got the “optional” control.

One thing about the score events is you can always do better with hindsight …either better route choice between controls, less controls (if you have gone over time) or more controls (if you are under time) …but I am 100% happy with the choices we made (although I reckon I should have looked at the map more during the first 20 minutes of Day 2 …see what I mean about hindsight).

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