In 2017 we were tempted by OMM Lite in the Yorkshire Dales. The weather and the running was good and we thought it would be “fun” to take on the real thing. Two years later the OMM 2019 arrived in Coastal Scotland and so did we…along with a hashtag I never expected to use during a “running” event #ballsdeepinbogs.
The Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) formerly known as the KIMM was created in 1968 to allow those who love the mountains an opportunity to test their abilities. The OMM thoroughly tests your mountain skills and the fundamentals of the event are self-reliance, route selection, moving quickly over difficult terrain, kit management, endurance, teamwork & sound mountain judgement.
This year’s event was in Largs in Scotland which made it accessible with a mere 6-hour drive. Our plan was to be in fine fettle to run but busy work schedules, colds, and life conspired to limit the training time pre-event. Either way, we were looking forward to a good run and wanted to be as well prepared for Day One as possible. So we headed to the bar!
We discovered that evening that we had a bit of walk to the start so we headed off to get a good night’s sleep in the Delica.
The weather was crisp the next morning as we packed our bags, completed final checks and set off uphill on the mile and half wander to the start.
We set off unaware of what the course would hold in store. We discussed taking some time to study the map and plot a route and we did briefly, before heading up to the first control. Within about 50 metres we began to slog through wet, muddy ground noting that this was probably the driest our feet would be for the next 30 hours and we’re absolutely spot on.
As experienced mountain leaders we were more than happy with the navigational elements of the course but it was extremely difficult to judge pace for the simple reason that you could be jogging along quite happily for a few hundred metres and then find yourself up to the knees in bog for the next hundred.
We knew we weren’t entering the OMM to be competitive. There are clearly a few pairs of ringers in every category that will win each event and most of the ringers appeared to have a combined team weight which was less than my individual one. We’re happy to trot along like ageing shire horse and a slightly younger wonky donkey.
When you know you’re not competing to win you can relax a little and take the opportunity to “enjoy” the event. I hoped we may be able to see a final photographer so I could express my joy in familiarly over-enthusiastic runners way of a sidewards jump. When I spotted the chance I took it and in the moments after I exclaimed to Stoney that I thought I’d timed to it perfectly to not only get the jump in but also to block out his face in the process. That my best race finish photo ever!
We followed the road down into the camp and began the task of setting up our tent. Just after pitching the weather began to close in so we quickly cooked up some food and slipped into the tent for some cover from the elements.
With a wee dram as a nightcap we headed to bed at a luxurious 7 PM ready to take all the night could throw at us!
After a rubbish night’s sleep due to heavy wind and rain, we emerged from the tent with a determination to just get to the end as quickly as possible.
Enthusiasm was not overflowing our cups so trudged up to the start hoping to find a simple route that would avoid bog but still get us a few points to finish the event strong.
Our strategy went out the window and we missed out on some relatively easy points through a desire not to deviate too far from a straight line to the finish. A pang of guilt overtook us at the end after the road crossing and we decided to head towards a final 50 pointer but after seeing just how far we had to climb after the first hill we abandoned the plan and got our heads down to the finish.
What was the OMM like? Not what we expected. It wasn’t enjoyable at the time as we hoped, naively perhaps, to be able to run more of the course. That impacted on our judgement of pacing and subsequently our strategic planning so it felt like a bit of a failure. A week on it feels like an achievement and I’m glad we took part. We’re relative newcomers to the OMM and this year was more suited to the mountain goat or fell runner than the moorland trail runner. What I confirmed is that it’s good to have a friend that is as enthusiastic about the outdoors and as open to taking on a tough challenge as Stoney. Find that one outdoor freak like you and bribe each other with post-adventure beers to keep yourself out there because it’s on the adventures like this where you feel like there’s not much more you can give that you find you are most alive.