Last weekend was meant to be one of the highlights of my racing season – the Grampian Mountain Challenge (GMC). Unfortunately, a recent injury meant that it was not to be. Determined not to let this get in my way, I turned up with my trusted mountain bike for what was a really fun weekend in the Cairngorms. This is a biannual mountain marathon event run by Grampian orienteers, and this year the event centre was in Braemar. What makes this event particularly nice for a mountain marathon is that the organisers transport everyone’s tents, sleeping bags, dry shoes, clothes etc to the midcamp, and an evening meal and breakfast are also provided. There is even beer on sale if you forgot to pack enough spirits in your overnight bag! Finally, what really makes this event great is that on both days there is a shorter pure orienteering section using 1:10,000  scale maps as well as the ‘standard’ mountain marathon course to navigate.

So, to the event: I can report that all the Westies taking part found the start, midcamp and the finish (no small feat for one of the Westies taking part….). I had a nice cycle on both days whilst Katie, Tom and Gwyn were out looking for the controls, red squirrels, mountain hares and grouse. Saturday evening at midcamp was fantastic with quite a few beers being consumed in good company whilst looking at maps of the day’s route. There were even some fireworks thrown in for good measure.

Hopefully I will be injury free in two years time to actually run in the event, rather than just crash the midcamp party to claim my finishers mug and t-shirt 😊.

1 reply
  1. Gwyn Bellamy
    Gwyn Bellamy says:

    This is a great little event – the organizers and participants were super friendly and it’s limited to 100 teams so all very low key. Only problem is that it’s two days of running in the hills so you need some basic fitness, something that was sorely missing in yours truly. This meant that the first day was very tough, and I managed to bonk spectacularly on the top of the main munro of the course. Thankfully realizing that it was still possible to make it back to midcamp before the 3.30 cutoff lifted my spirits a bit. This meant I stormed home in 5th out of 5 solo runs in the A class (10th out of 11 teams in the class overall) on day one. Who says Westies can’t navigate! Despite feeling a bit of a wreck at the start of day two, I actually manage a consistent steady jog throughout the second day. Having made no serious nav errors (except running up the wrong hill for the last checkpoint ) I managed to finish a bit further up the field – this time 4th out of 5 in the solo A class and 5th overall in the class.

    Despite feeling like rubbish for much of the first day, I really enjoyed overall, and the evening at the midcamp with beers to hand was great. Would highly recommend.

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