British Mountain Marathon Calendar

We take a look ahead at the 2020 Mountain Marathon line-up.

As ever, there is a fantastic showing from around the hillier corners of these isles and something for everyone, from first-timers through to gnarly veterans.


Event: Great Lakeland 3 Day
Date: 8th – 10th May 2020
Location: Lake District

Overview:The SILVA GL3D™ is an adventurous three-day mountain marathon with a unique, relaxed and friendly atmosphere that attracts both runners and long-distance walkers. Over the years the event has built up a dedicated following of participants who enjoy the challenge of three long, consecutive days in the hills. The start and finish is in the same location so that participants can get maximum enjoyment, with competitor’s overnight kit transported between each camp.


Event: Scottish Mountain Marathon
Date: 13th – 14th June 2020
Location:  Western Highlands

Overview: The Scottish Mountain Marathon™ is a classic two-day hill running and navigation challenge held in the Scottish Highlands and Islands each year.

Open to pairs who must compete as self-sufficient teams, the event is suitable for novice participants and elite competitors alike. There are seven different courses, offering something for everyone who enjoys navigating through wild and challenging terrain.


Event: 42nd SLMM Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon
Date: 4th July – 5th July 2020
Location: North West Lake District

Overview: The Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM) is a two-day mountain navigation competition (or race) that is held annually in the Lake District for pairs and experienced solo entrants. The event comprises 8 courses of which 6 are solely for pairs of runners, one is exclusively for solo competitors and one course is open for both pairs and solo entrants.


Event: 41st Mourne Mountain Marathon
Date: 19th – 20th September 2020
Location: The Mournes, Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Overview:The Mourne Mountain Marathon is Ireland’s only two day endurance and navigation event held each year in the beautiful mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland.  It is run entirely on a voluntary and non-profit basis by a team with many years experience of organising and competing in this type of event.


Event: ROC Mountain Marathon
Date: 26th – 27th September 2020
Location: Northern England

Overview:The event has proved a popular choice with mountain marathon competitors with its combination of both linear and score courses that provide participants with huge choice and minimise the chance of ‘snakes’ of runners all heading to the same control.


Event: 53rd OMM Original Mountain Marathon
Date: 24th – 25th October 2020
Location: Mountains of Argyll & Bute

Overview: The daddy of Mountain Marathons and the one that started it all. The UK’s biggest mountain race has shaped the UK outdoor community for over 50 years. Since 1968 the UK’s greatest running legends, product creators & influential people have stood on the start line. The 53rd OMM will be held somewhere in the mountains of Argyll & Bute and as is tradition, the exact location will be released in September, though clues may be found before then.

52nd OMM: Results & Report

OMMers devour the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park – But the Park bites back!

A sunny Kelburn Castle provided the start line facilities for OMM 2019 thanks to the generosity of Lord Glasgow and his team.  With stunning vistas of Arran and direct access to the moors; the checkpoint studded hill sides were prepped and ready for the off.

Thanks to Chris Stowe (B Course) for the image.

Battling the boggy abyss

Across the start, the competitors said goodbye to dry feet with the first ascent ankle deep in mud and littered with invisible knee deep hazards.  There’s a few tactics when dealing with hidden boggy holes; one, go slow, test the ground before committing a foot placement or two, the ‘sod it’ tactic to march on in some kind of bog roulette effort.  After the first 10km you could see the competitors embrace the second and the inevitable boggy abyss of the terrain.

The 200km2 quickly silenced critics as it revealed its challenges.  Endless ascents and descents over bog, tussock and heathery fells pushed even the hardiest of competitors to their limits.  This rarely visited by ‘normal’ outdoor folk area provided sparse, if any, path sightings leaving the relentless terrain to be tackled head on.  Many will have experienced waist level submergence; one even described his team-mate flagging down 4 passing competitors to assist his release from an armpit deep dunking.  It was a weekend of ankle and knee obliteration, with so few paths to be found that from ‘plodders’ to ‘elite’, we all faced one hell of a challenge.  As Jim McQuaid & Dominic Watts said “you knew it was only a matter of time until you were swallowed by a bog.  You just hoped your shoe was still there when you pulled yourself out”.

A year for the navigators

The Mountain Marathon was created to be a test of mountain ability.  The strength and training to see who can run the hardest combining with the experience and navigational skills to pick the best route.  The undulating non-descript features were expected to favour the orienteers.  However, the sun shines on those who deserve it and perfect visibility changed the challenge to focus on route selection and hill observation to find the most forgiving passage.  Heavy rains and hail fell overnight just to remind the hunkered down campers that this was the OMM but only short showers flashed through on day two and teams enjoyed great views to ease the navigational challenge.

Thanks to Joan Chapman for the image.

The results

This year Graham Gristwood & Hector Haines won the Elite Course in 12hrs 48mins after developing a lead of 25 minutes at the end of day 1.  The race for second was much harder fought with only minutes splitting second to fifth place.  In the end Alistair Masson & Tim Morgan hung on to take second overall pushing Dark Peak Runners Tom Saville & Nathan Lawson into third.

The Long Score competition equally took in some distance.  The overall winners Nick Barrable & Jonny Malley scored a massive 1240 points in an estimated 80 kilometres with 2500m of ascent.  In the military class the Hutton Trophy was won by Calvin Routledge & Max Cole with 1030 points (4th overall) and it was an honour to have Colonel Jim Hutton’s cousin, Alison, join us to present their prize.  The  female winners were Bodil Oudshoorn & Janie Oates of Helm Hill with 815 points (18thoverall) and the first place mixed team was John & Corinne Watson with 800 points (21st overall).

20 hours for Chris & Ben

At the more experienced end of the field,  Chris Kelsey joined the 30 year club  while partnered by his son Ben after a gruelling 21 hours to complete the Elite course, their first Elite finish and an impressive demonstration of endurance.

The OMM continues to push for a greener approach and thanks to all who car-shared.  This reduced the car count from 700 to 400 which is certainly a huge environmental positive for the event’s carbon footprint, an issue which is deep in all our hearts.  Given the mud on the car-parking field it was also important for the safety of the car-parking team. We had a mild panic while helplessly watching the ‘towout’ tractor gathering pace sideways down a muddy  hill towards the marshall’s cars which occurred whilst it attempted to tow a van with trailer to terra firma.

Thanks to Roger Watkinson for the image.

Bring on next year

Next year the 53rd OMM will be the 24+25th October.  Stuart Hamilton, Event Director, says “It’s important we keep the challenge fresh.  This year many were sceptical about what Clyde Muirshiel could offer.  What they got was some fantastic terrain challenges, enough height to burn the thighs and the huge visual contrast of the sea and Arran in one direction and the industrial scars of Glasgow in the other.  We felt that no area we have ever visited better exemplified why we must protect these landscapes and the OMM will continue to focus on responsibly bringing people to enjoy, use and ultimately become the protectors of this space.

Next year… well we’ll give you something different.  I’m looking to add some of the features we enjoyed on the Alps event this year so we’ve found somewhere that has rocky mountain tops, dense contours but ultimately still the remote open wilderness that we are so fortunate to be able to enjoy in the UK.  I look forward to being able to reveal more.”