52ndOMM: Start List

Right then everyone, here we have it, the start list for the 52nd Original Mountain Marathon. An eclectic mix of people who love being in our stunning UK mountains. You’ve got 2 week to remember how to navigate before you’ll be sent off into the abyss of clag & boggy bliss that is the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. We look forward to catching up with everyone again on the Friday night over a couple of warm up drinks and a bowl of pasta.

In the meantime if you have questions regarding the start list please email Emma who can answer them for you. emma@theomm.com.

GET TRAINING

See how everyone is training for this years race on Strava.

GET ADVICE

You can arrange lifts and ask advice in the Competitors Group.

52nd OMM Location

omm 2019

The 52nd OMM Location –  Largs: Scotland. The Vikings hordes couldn’t hold these shores.  Will the relentless terrain beat you?

Epic coastal views, virtually no paths, visibility…3metres. It’s the 52nd OMM. 

Stunning vistas of the great Lochs and the inspiring Arran peaks behind while you slog up pathless, boggy, heather clad coastal hills.  All of which you can imagine (as you probably won’t be able to see them) whilst you’re fighting through the clag on your way to the overnight camp.   

That’s right, for the 52nd OMM we’re all off to Largs and the Clyde MuirShiel Regional Park.  

We have 400km of remote glens featuring countless raging waterfalls and stunningly wild heather moors which you’ll look at on the map and utter the immortal words “it doesn’t look that bad, we can get through there.” We will see! 

For those who don’t know..

With decision making and fitness at its core, the OMM pitches teams of 2 against the elements to search for checkpoints spread across the 400km2 course area. Route choice is key and checkpoints will drag tired feet well off the paths to face decisions of whether to straight line and cross bog and bracken filled glens or add distance to skirt around the summits.  Young legs against experienced heads suddenly becomes a fair fight. 

Another decision for the teams will be what kit to carry. Go lighter and faster is a good idea but go too far and you risk freezing joints overnight and not being able to run.  For 2 days, teams are on their own and with the event intentionally held at the end of October “to guarantee bad weather” the event is not for the inexperienced. 

Advice from the team.

The course planner’s advice is, “Practice your Nav, you’re going to need it.  Stay flexible too as speed across the ground will be massively impacted by vegetation and boggy ground. This is real wild running and route choice should show off competitors individual running strengths (and weaknesses he muttered under his breath).” 

As always we’ve booked the traditional OMM weather; 50mph winds and driving rain on the Saturday clearing up on Sunday for those who find the overnight camp.  

Stuart Hamilton (OMM Event Director) says “We all wish we could compete as well in such a stunning location and look forward to welcoming everyone to the event centre at Kelburn Castle. I’m really grateful to Clyde MuirShiel Regional Park for enabling us to hold our event on such perfect terrain.” 

the omm

The core of OMM.

The fundamentals of the event haven’t changed over the 52 years – a wild test of navigation, kit selection & mountain skills within the safety net of an event. In a world of thrill seeking and instant gratification, OMM bucks the trend in saying that all mountain users should invest in their knowledge to be a responsible member of the mountain and hill going community.  As with anyone entering the UK mountains, they need to understand the condition and terrain they’re heading into and how to behave in it. 

In the coming weeks we will have updates and all the information you will need ahead of the event. All of the information is available on the 52nd event webpage here.

Next month our ecologist David Broom will be surveying this year’s event area to ensure we all cause no lasting damage to the area. You can read the previous pre and post ecological assessments from past events here.  

Mountain Marathon Kit List

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OMM MANDATORY EQUIPMENT LIST

Each individual and team is responsible for being properly equipped for two days unsupported racing in exposed terrain at the end of October.

This list should be seen as a minimum requirement only. Check the weather forecast, your previous experience and use sound judgement for the kit you should be wearing and carrying. The organisers reserve the right to disqualify any competitors who, in their opinion, do not have the necessary kit to survive in an emergency situation. Cotton clothing is not suitable.

EACH COMPETITOR MUST WEAR OR CARRY THE FOLLOWING:

  • Taped waterproof jacket with hood
  • Taped waterproof trousers
  • Clothing suitable for mountain running and walking
  • Spare base layer top
  • Spare full leg cover
  • Warm layer top
  • Hat, Gloves & Socks
  • Footwear designed for trail and fell use
  • Head torch capable of giving useable light for a minimum of 12 hours
  • Whistle & Compass
  • Map (as supplied)
  • Insulated Sleeping bag
  • First aid equipment
  • Pen/pencil and paper capable of being used in wet conditions
  • Survival bag (not a sheet)
  • Rucksack
  • Emergency rations
  • Water carrying capability

Spare warm kit and insulated sleeping bag must be waterproofed (i.e. in a drybag)

EACH TEAM MUST CARRY THE FOLLOWING AT ALL TIMES:

  • Cooking equipment including stove with sufficient fuel for duration of the race, plus some spare for emergency use, left at the end of the event
  • Tent with sewn in groundsheet
  • Food for 36 hours for two people
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  • 52nd OMM Gas Pre-order

    £5.00£6.00
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OMM Essential Skills: Switching navigation techniques

OMM ESSENTIAL SKILLS: Switching navigation techniques

Charlie Sproson from Mountain Run talks through some essential skills he’ll be using on this years OMM Elite Course. To complete the OMM course requires many different skills to operate safely in the mountains at the end of October.

Switching navigation techniques – It’s important to change how you navigate depending on the conditions. When the clag comes in and visibility is poor you should focus on collecting and catching features and hand railing to track your position and still move quickly.

Charlie wears: AETHER SMOCK

195g FULLY FEATURED MOUNTAIN RUNNING SMOCK

The NEW Aether smock is lightweight fully featured mountain running smock. We’ve focused on creating new innovative closures around the wrist, waist and face. We then combined these with eVent’s new DVSTORM 3 layer fabric. Find out more….

OMM Essential Skills: Thumbing the Map

OMM ESSENTIAL SKILLS: Thumbing the map

Charlie Sproson from Mountain Run talks through some essential skills he’ll be using on this years OMM Elite Course. To complete the OMM course requires many different skills to operate safely in the mountains at the end of October.

Thumbing the Map – Keep your thumb on the map at your current position. As you move along your route rotate the map and move your thumb along your route. Progress to thumbing the map on the move. Use your peripheral vision and self awareness to maintain your location  and balance whilst running.

Charlie wears: AETHER SMOCK

195G FULLY FEATURED MOUNTAIN RUNNING SMOCK

The NEW Aether smock is lightweight fully featured mountain running smock. We’ve focused on creating new innovative closures around the wrist, waist and face. We then combined these with eVent’s new DVSTORM 3 layer fabric. Find out more….

OMM Essential Skills: Moving through checkpoints

OMM ESSENTIAL SKILLS: Moving through checkpoints

Charlie Sproson from Mountain Run talks through some essential skills he’ll be using on this years OMM Elite Course. To complete the OMM course requires many different skills to operate safely in the mountains at the end of October.

Moving through checkpoints – For those looking for an edge over the competition. Try and avoid hanging around at checkpoints. The leading team mate navigates into the checkpoint whilst the trailing team mate sets up the bearing for the next leg. The leading runner dibs the checkpoint and the trailing runners takes over the navigation.

Charlie wears: AETHER SMOCK

195G FULLY FEATURED MOUNTAIN RUNNING SMOCK

The NEW Aether smock is lightweight fully featured mountain running smock. We’ve focused on creating new innovative closures around the wrist, waist and face. We then combined these with eVent’s new DVSTORM 3 layer fabric. Find out more….

OMM HEROES: Wendy Dodds – 42 OMM’s and counting

WENDY DODDS – 42 OMM’s and Counting

For the majority of competitors, completing one OMM event is a huge effort and a remarkable undertaking, for those who have endured everything that the last weekend in October has to offer, one is never enough.

If you’re one of those people that has done enough OMM events that you’re well into double figures then you might have your sights set on the OMM ‘20 Year’ and ‘30 Year’ clubs. These special clubs, recognisable by their 20 and 30 Year club jerseys, symbolise a huge achievement. There are now quite a few competitors to have achieved such a milestone and this year will be the 49th edition of the OMM and also the 43rd OMM event for Wendy Dodds…just let that sink in for a moment for the incredible accomplishment that it is.

Wendy completed her first OMM, then the KIMM, in 1972 and since then she has completed a further forty-two events, missing only two: in 1982, she was in New Zealand and in 2003 when she was en route to Namibia…I think we’ll let her off!

IMAGE COURTESY OF IAN CHARTERS

MOTIVATION

We asked Wendy what motivated her to enter her first OMM and what inspires her to come back each year?

W: In 1972, Val Pacey, a top orienteer, suggested we enter as no women’s team had ever done it (a women’s team started in 1971 but DNF). The start was at St Mary’s Loch in the Borders and we stopped and had a picnic lunch on day one. I took a spare pair of shoes, a toothbrush and a small towel – not my lightest pack, and I’ve never taking these items since!

I enjoy going to new areas with new navigational challenges; I’ve not won many running events, setting only a few race records over the years, so I make up for it by doing multiple events & setting ‘completion records’ instead! As the KIMM was my first mountain challenge I’ve had longer to ‘notch up’ my events.

MEMORIES

With 42 OMM’s under her belt Wendy has completed the OMM during some of the toughest years to be seen:

W: “Memories – too many! I’ve been fortunate to have many good running partners and there have been lots of favourite years so it’s impossible to select a single one…although beating two top female (and younger) orienteers in the Elite at Rannoch was rewarding.

The one that did not go to plan: 2008 when we moved up to the Elite and arrived at the overnight camp before 3pm, only to learn that the event had been cancelled and, as a result, were not to be allowed to complete day two after having been through the worst of the weather! Of the Elite and A Classes I’ve done, they were all good, but I’m most pleased with a chasing start on day two on Arran. It must have been going well as we were less than an hour behind the leading men in A Class on day one.

Image courtesy of Stephen Wilson www.granddayoutphotography.co.uk

ADVICE

Wendy particularly enjoys the long distance fell races and being in the mountains. She also recently completed the Ultra Tour of Monte Rosa as part of a three-day race and with 42 OMM events under her belt she has more experience than most.

When asked what advice she would pass on to those starting their first OMM:

The most important thing is to select your running partner carefully. It is far more important that you get on with your partner and are psychologically suited than being physically similar. For this reason I would advise against finding a last minute partner unless you know them well enough to be sure they can look after you when you’re cold/tired/hungry. You have to be sure that you can do the same for them whilst also being at close quarters in a one-person tent.

More often than not, I have competed with far more able folk than myself and been carried along. Ideally you should go for some long runs together and practice your navigation together. It’s important to have a ‘game plan’ for how you share the route planning and navigation and kit needs to be a balance of light, warm and comfortable equipment, agreeing with your partner what you are taking. Good communication on the hill is important and it is important to keep checking your location in bad weather. When you get to the start, set off slowly so you get used to the map and navigation and above all enjoy the weekend!

Thanks to Wendy for taking the time to talk to us, she certainly is an inspiring lady and has an incredible wealth of knowledge about the OMM. We look forward to catching up with her again at the Friday night pasta party in Glentrool.

See you all in October.

How to do a Mountain Marathon with a 14litre pack

HOW TO DO A MOUNTAIN MARATHON WITH A 14 LITRE PACK

Author: Sam Atkinson

Tested: Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon July 2016

With the Original Mountain Marathon coming up in October, I am beginning to think about what I hope to achieve and also if there is any more kit I need (hopefully not). Well with the latest OMM Backpack the Ultra 8 being only 8 litres. It begs the question, how much capacity do I really need?

With the really lightweight kit that OMM have produced I think I can do the event with just 14 litres. This may not seem revolutionary to some, but for me who used more than twice that volume last year, I am pleased and excited about this set up. When i mentioned this to Stuart Hamilton (OMM Event Director) who did point out that “my kit selections should be able look after me if i had to go static for a number of hours in an emergency.” Very sensible advice, but i felt i could put together a very small pack that provided the protection i personally needed.

I have done over 250km in the Ultra 8 so far, and it has not disappointed. It’s a rugged and tough pack weighing only 220 grams which makes it my go to pack for long runs. Due to this I knew I wanted to use it for the OMM, but doing it with 8 Litres would be crazy so combining it with the OMM Ultra Waist Pouch is a great addition. It means I have 14 litres of capacity and because the packs are separate my back can stretch and bend as normal.

Last weekend i decided to test how well it worked as a setup on the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon. I know there’s a world of difference between a Mountain Marathon in July and at the end of October but it would give me a starting point and guide for improvements.

When using this setup I found that putting the heaver items (stove) in the Waist Pouch keeps the weight low and helps with balance over rough terrain. This also rests in the small of the back and sits comfortably on the hips. The items that reduced the capacity the most were the tent and sleeping bag and well worth investing in a lighter option to reduce the pack size. I used the Mountain Raid 1.0 sleeping bag which compresses down to the size of a couple of tennis balls and was able to fit the sleeping bag, t-shirt, leggings, shorts and socks into a 3 litre dry bag in the Ultra 8. The weather forecast was changeable so i elected to keep my waterproofs to hand in the the large mesh pockets on the side of the Ultra 8 which was really useful when the heavens open. The stove I use is called the mKettle, it’s just a simple chimney design and only boils water but it’s all you need when traveling lightweight. Here’s the full list of kit i used.

MY KIT LIST FOR THE SAUNDERS:

Overall this kind of setup worked well and is a good alternative to the normal pack. It gave me a lot of flexibility and freedom of movement when running additionally the easy access to the pockets on the Waist Pouch was very useful in the conditions. The pack weighed 5kg exactly and that is with me carrying both the tent and stove. The Ultra 8 weighed 3.4kg and the Ultra Waist Pouch was 1.6kg. Looking ahead to the OMM in October if we were to split the tent and stove up i would be able to get an extra layer that would be needed for the harsher conditions. Overall i think this setup is an interesting option and the freedom it provides when running makes it worth investigating further.

Thanks for reading

Sam Atkinson

Mountain Masochism

MOUNTAIN MASOCHISM

Experienced mountain runner Jonny Muir came in for a chastening

experience at the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM), one of Britain’s

most brutal races

ORIGINAL MOUNTAIN MARATHON

Sitting at home, dry and warm for the first time in almost 36 hours, I re-read the OMM blurb: ‘Held in some of the most remote locations and at a time of year when conditions can be extremely challenging, the OMM is meant to be hard.’

Soon after finishing my first OMM,
I was asked for three words to define the experience – the experience of slogging for 13 hours across tussock mazes, calf-deep heather and frigid bog, covering some 40 miles while ascending and descending around 3,000 metres. It was too soon to rationally coordinate my thoughts. It is only now that a single word to describe the OMM has crystallised in my mind: chastening.

Originating in the 1960s, the OMM is the Glastonbury of mountain marathons; both are muddy and teem with the unwashed, but unlike the music festival, the OMM moves around Britain, seeking the country’s most challenging mountainous terrain. The destination of the 2015 edition lacked glamour, but the Tweedsmuir Hills in the Scottish Borders are brutish bulwarks of no nonsense.

With the hills bathed in mist and rain skittering across our hoods, Duncan and
I began running, immersed in the hopeful optimism that imbues new beginnings. Along with some 2,000 others (all running as pairs), we were carrying everything we needed to survive for two days.

Faced with a choice of eight categories, we chose the ‘long score’, a course with
a fixed completion time of seven hours
on day one and six on day two. Numerous checkpoints of different numerical values – far more than we could feasibly visit – were sprawled ominously across a map that we had not seen until the clock had started. There was no route; that was for us to decide.

The challenge of the OMM is to override instinct. Think of how we like to move over mountains: we follow defined paths; we cross rivers at bridges; we yearn for summits. Even in the mountains, humans are not as free as we would like to think. We still crave comfort. The OMM devours comfort – and, for us humans, that can be deeply unsettling.

“I WANTED TO CRY”

We had been running for two hours. Duncan had already taken the stove, the gas and the tent to lighten the weight of my bag. It made a marginal difference only. I wanted to cry. My body was engulfed in a special brand of tiredness, although I do not know what came first: mental capitulation or physical ruin. The words of the blurb haunted: ‘The OMM is the most complete test of character and is regularly underestimated.’

Somehow we completed day one, with seven hours of unremitting effort climaxing in a frantic charge downhill on cramping quads to scrape into the overnight camp with minutes to spare. Dinner – soup from a packet, couscous from a packet, hot chocolate from a packet, custard from a packet – felt incredibly luxurious.

Day two must have happened because I am writing this in the past tense, but the memories are hazy – a consequence of the trauma, no doubt. Some things are definite, however, like falling face first into a river and the hands-and-knees ascent of an awful hill called Dead for Cauld.

We did not rest for a moment. By the end, I scarcely had the coordination to descend without fear of stumbling. With time growing tight, Duncan took my bag. My emasculation was total. Rarely had I endured such type two fun, the sort of activity that is only fun – and I am being generous with this word – in hindsight.

The OMM is about as real as it gets in British running, offering something deeply metaphorical. Here is A, there is B – you choose the way. I can’t say I enjoyed the hardship of the OMM, but that is far from the point. Chastened is good. It is meant to be hard.

Author: Jonny Muir – Mens running UK
mensrunninguk.co.uk

10 things you need to know to complete the OMM

10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW TO

COMPLETE THE OMM

As any OMM athletes will tell you there are a few tips that will make things a little easier when taking on the OMM. 

OMM regular Johan Guasden has these tips for those planning on competing in this years event.

1. Sandwich bags are better than socks

Ever wondered why everyone has a couple of sandwich bags with them on the OMM? When you reach the overnight camp, these bad-boys will give your feet the much needed dry environment to relax and ‘enjoy’ your well earned rest.

2. SMALL LUXURIES MAKE IT ALL BETTER

Whilst weight is always an issue on the OMM, taking some small luxuries with you for the overnight camp make life much more bearable. The extra weight of a tasty treat may well be worth it in the long run, raising dampened spirits at the end of the day.

3. LEARN HOW TO PITCH AND STRIKE YOUR TENT

In the inevitable wind and rain, a quick pitch in the evening and strike in the morning can make the all the difference for a nice dry night, and a swift morning get-away.

4. Try different sleeping systems

A good night’s sleep can make all the difference to the second day. Make sure your sleeping system is both warm enough, and doesn’t try to kill you during the night. The maps provided do not provide enough insulation to keep your feet warm!

5. Learn to run with a pack

You need to be fit for the OMM, and this includes carrying weight whilst running. Go for some runs before-hand carrying the kind of weight you would expect for the OMM, and you’ll cope much better both physically and mentally.

6. Control your panic

Try to get out in horrible conditions before the race, with the intention of struggling towards a difficult point with a time limit. Navigation is easy when conditions are nice, but time pressure and uncertainty can cause panic which is only ever counter-productive in a race, especially when the check points are so “easy” to find.

7. Back to back runs

Try and get your legs used to a second day of tough running. It takes a lot to get up the day after 7 hours of running and do it all again, but as with everything, practice makes perfect… or at least makes it easier.

8. Eat like a champ

Mountain Marathons aren’t just about running and navigation. Eating is an important part of OMM events as you’re out on the hills working at maximum effort for hours on end. Try different foods on training runs until you find combinations which will power you through the day(s) without feeling too sick.

9. Using the uphills

No one finds uphills easy, but this can be used to your advantage. Don’t try to run every step as this will just tire you out, and there’s a long way to go. Instead, slow the pace a little, take smaller steps and eat as much as you can without suffocating yourself. It’s much better this way round than trying to shove trail-mix in your face as you fly downhill, or wasting those precious flat sections where you should be moving fast.

10. Enjoy yourself

We’ve saved the most important point until last. OMM events, whilst tough, are all about a good atmosphere and enjoying yourself! Take your time to appreciate your amazing surroundings and fellow competitors; it’s always good craic, and we wouldn’t change it for the world!