Splashing About at the LAMM 1999
Running off the Campsies one beautiful spring evening, the conversation had turned to Mountain Marathons. Sue and Pat had entered the Saunders and Sue was having to withdraw so Pat was looking for a new partner. Filled with enthusiasm from the evening’s run, the thought of running another Mountain Marathon was appealing. It was ten years since I had done one. The Saunders was three months away so there was plenty of time for training. Pat was happy to have me in her team; and that was it.
Well, the training runs were not as numerous as intended and before we knew it, the big weekend was almost upon us. I was feeling a bit apprehensive by then but Pat was very encouraging; if nothing else, we agreed we could rely on our ‘historical stamina’! We would see it through.
So, with various pieces of borrowed gear and loads of food (Westies Women – what else would you expect?!), we set off for Coniston on the Friday evening. It was a beautiful evening; we arrived at the same time as Keith and John D – couldn’t have organised that if we’d tried. We registered, marked up our map (should have taken a bit more time over that!), pitched our tent, checked out our gear for the morning, met up with Karen P and Willie G from Carnethy and headed off for a quick pint. Sitting outside the pub in the warm evening soaking up the atmosphere, I was feeling positively enthusiastic.
Day 1 dawned. This was it! I peaked out the tent at 6.30 am to check the weather. Oh! Oh! Where were the hills? All I could see was thick gray, gloomy cloud. So much for the good feelings of the previous evening. This mountain marathon was going to live up to its aim of testing physical fitness and navigational skills. And it certainly did; we had a very challenging day. The competition area was small; the course for our class required a lot of zigzagging and climbing and the weather forced us to travel on compass-bearings and splosh along on sodden ground constantly. And let’s just say that if we had got all of the grid references correct first time round we might have finished about an hour earlier! But we did get to the overnight camp by mid-afternoon; the sun had come out and there was beer for sale. What more could we ask for? (answers not required, thank you!). We got the tent pitched, dry socks and poly bags on the feet, food and drink in the tum and lay back to relax for the rest of the day. tracked down our fellow Westies – Tracey and Jane, and Keith and John. A wee social and before long it was bedtime.
Day 2 dawned. Surprise, Surprise! No visibility again (except for the snaking queue outside the long row of bright blue portaloos!) We were in the 8.30am mass start; and what a mass. There were hundreds of people heading for the same checkpoint at the summit of Fox Haw, less than 10 minutes from the start; no time for the crowd to disperse. Chaos reigned at the checkpoint. There was one poor marshal having numbers shouted at him constantly and one punching control cards. This was not a time to mind manners. Teams from different classes were going off in all directions; we had to be careful not to get caught up and head along a wrong route. (No, we didn’t.) Day 2 is always shorter. Our course looked to be more straightforward and much more runnable than the previous day. It was, except for our one little escapade. We had decided to take the direct route over Brown Pike to the checkpoint at Blind Tarn, which nestled just below its summit. All looked fine on the map but in the mist we couldn’t see what was ahead of us. Anyway, two ‘older gentleman’ passed us and reckoned although a steep descent, it was ‘go-able’. So we went; couldn’t be out-done by a couple of men! Well, actually, Pat’s rucksack went first; she reckoned it was her or it so sent it on its way. A few heart-stopping moments and a lot of cursing got us to the bottom of this sodden, loose gully, and checked in. But why were most people coming in from another direction? We got the answer when we followed the path out onto the main track on Wanla Scar Road again. From there, a long run down the track, taking in one more checkpoint, and we were at the finish.
Above: Pat, Gordon & Keith finishing at Ben Lomond
It was only 11.30am and the sun had come out. We were tired, soaked to the skin and elated. We had achieved what we had set out to do. We’d had a few adventures, met many nice people, worked as a team and had great fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about?