Equality in the fells?

Is the OMM event prize structure wrong?

But first…

“Last night I saw an events company had posted about the weekend’s FRA relays on Facebook. They were congratulating the winning teams, but only the men’s. Somebody pulled them up on this in quite a light-hearted way, so they then posted a link to the full results. But others then requested that they edit their original post to give equality to both the men’s and women’s teams. After all, as one of the posters pointed out ‘we worked just as hard as the men”.
– Run247

Hands up, it was us!

We posted on our social channels about the event and named the first three teams over the line, which were all male. We really offended people:

You never even considered that this would upset anyone because subconsciously female achievement in sport is not considered equal to male achievement in sport and this needs to change! How are women meant to feel worthy and equal if this is how a brand like the OMM treat our achievements?
– Direct Message

Our mistake was focusing on the overall table of results rather than the individual race categories. OMM apologise unreservedly for any offence given. Of course, we were not trying to discriminate, belittle or ignore any of the athletes making outstanding achievements. We want to promote active participation in mountain marathons and similar sports as we believe that these are good for all individuals and society as a whole.

But it raises an interesting point

With female athletes winning other endurance events like the Spine Race, should a race focus on the overall winners or on the individual categories?

This is particularly relevant for The OMM which has always promoted an open race with all teams being treated equally, regardless of gender or age.

As the event requires a number of different skills to do well, rather than solely endurance, this has meant mixed, vets & female teams do win the classes overall.

We recognise that the field is 64% male only teams so we positively discriminate with additional prizes to encourage women, families and veterans to take part. We do not have a male race at all.

But is this fair? Honestly, we can’t say with conviction that it is, but it’s the best we’ve come up.

Here is an extract from somebody who disagrees:

“…..The Snowdonia Marathon has been going since 1982 and the OMM is now in it’s 52nd year.  And what does this road race have in common with this fell race?  Neither offers equal prizes for male and female competitors…..…….the only possible reason I can imagine that they don’t give equal prizes to males and females is that of “proportionality”.  The suggestion being that as more males enter than females, the prizes are divided up accordingly.  I do not agree at all that because less females enter, those who do well in their categories are therefore not worthy of the same recognition.  Working on encouraging more female competitors by evening up the prizes might be an idea!  It’s not rocket science is it? 

All of these disparities imply that female events are less important and that female athletes are less worthy of recognition for their efforts.  How are we even still having these debates?  Why is it not just a given?  Races offering unequal prize structures instantly make me not want to enter, not because I may be in contention for a prize that isn’t on offer but simply because it suggests females in that event are an after thought.  And so the cycle continues, less females enter going forward so the disparity continues.”

We need your help

So this is where we want you to help. Every year we discuss the results from the event and every year we discuss what we can do to encourage more participation by all ages, genders and backgrounds. It’s a tough one to get right.

  • Would you change the race categories? if so how?
  • Bearing in mind we currently give out 156 individual prizes. What changes, if any, should we make to the prize structure?

Here’s some more information to help….

The current OMM prize structure

The OMM event has 6 courses of different lengths or time limits and we present 156 prizes. Typically 1000 teams of 2 enter.

Prizes are presented to:

  • Overall Course winners

To encourage participation across the categories additional prizes are awarded for the highest placed teams on all courses. The number of prizes is dependant on the number of teams within a category entered.

  • Mixed teams
  • Vets overall
  • All Female teams
  • Family Generation
  • Military teams
  • Vets female
  • Vets Mixed

The top 3 teams on each course are publicised as the winners regardless of age or gender.

OMM 2019 Results

More info…

  • In the 2019 event a mixed team:
    • Won the Medium Score
    • Won the 3rd place prize on the Short Score
    • Won the 3rd place prize on the B Course
  • Only 1 of the all-female teams made the top 10 on one of the courses.
  • The 2019 OMM competitor field comprised of:
    • 9% female teams*
    • 64% male teams*
    • 27% mixed team*
      *(open age+vets)
  • Percentage of women competing in the last 3 years has risen from: 18%-22%.
  • Percentage of all female teams competing on the last 3 OMM events has stayed around 9%
  • With this current prize structure 8% of all competitors could receive a prize.
  • In 2019, 37% of prize money went to women, who made up 22% of the competitors.

The Results

Following this article we opened up the floor to the community for their opinions on the OMM Prize Structure.

Entries have now closed, to allow us to collate the responses and prepare a statement of response.

We thank you all for taking the time to read and respond and for the good nature of the discussion so far.

Our response and any further actions will be announced in due course.



BOUNDLESS: An Outdoors Magic Film with Chris Nicolson


The 2019 OMM Festival saw the first edition of the Outdoors Magic 10km Trail Race, the UK’s first fully inclusive and accessible 10km trail event.

Outdoors Magic followed one of our competitors, Chris, on his journey from professional rugby player to trail racer.

We worked closely with Chris in preparation for the event to ensure the race was not only a challenge for him and other chair users but also a challenge for all competitors, with tough hills, technical descents and plenty of loose ground.

Boundless captures that familiar sensation of agony and ecstasy we all experience over the course of a race and gives a great insight into the motivation of our competitors.

Chris uses: Trail Fire Vest


A customisable, minimalist solution to carrying racing and training essentials, whilst keeping them close to hand


The TrailFire vest is stripped down to the essentials, a low-profile, highly-versatile vest for any length of race or training. Multiple attachment points on the back allow you to expand the load carry.  The Trailfire is also compatible with Flexi-flasks for hands-fee hydration. Read More…


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.”


52ndOMM: Start List


Right then everyone, here we have it, the start list for the 52nd

The time has come…the 52nd OMM is upon us. 

From 1st timers to 40 year OMM veterans we are looking forward to welcoming you all.


Kelburn Castle, Largs, Scotland, KA29 0BE


Please check for delays on your route so that you arrive in time.  Possible road closure (with diversion) M8 J37 westbound from 8pm-6am on Fri 25th Oct.


3pm Friday 25th October

Kit Declaration

Please Remember to bring your signed Kit Declaration along to registration (please note we cannot accept these via email)


All amendments to your team or course can still be made but only at registration.  Refunds or deferments are not possible. 

£5 charity donation for SINGLE OCCUPANCY cars!

To give you a nudge to car share we’re asking that any single occupancy cars make a £5 parking donation to this year’s local charities and Rescue teams. 


Remember there will be no waste disposal at the overnight and kit check will be looking for your rubbish at the finish!

999 by Text 

We recommend registering for this important service before the weekend.  It allows you to contact 999 by text – very important when you may only have a weak phone signal that does not allow for clear speech.  You must register BEFORE you need to use the service – it’s quick and easy. Click here.


By no means to be taken as gospel but the conditions for the weekend are looking…seasonally appropriate.


LIVE RESULTS The results will refresh every 15minutes. As competitors cross the line they will appear on the results.

LIVE COVERAGE We’ll be posting on our social channels throughout the weekend. We always get lots of questions from partners at home which we’re always happy to answer.

PHOTOGRAPHS The team from R&R photography will be out on the course and at the finish lines to catch you looking your best at the end of each day. 

Any Questions?

Please head to the information desk in the main marquee, where our friendly volunteers will be happy to help you.1st timers please note there are no stupid questions at the OMM!

The event team are now on site.  If you have an urgent query that is not answered in the event details please email emma@theomm.com



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


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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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.


  • 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)


  • 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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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


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


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


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….


Adventurer Chris Nicholson to set Guinness World Record completing the OMM Festival’s 10km trail race in a wheelchair

Adventurer Chris Nicholson to set Guinness World Record completing the OMM Festival’s 10km trail race in a wheelchair

For all but a few Elite runners, Mountain Marathon’s are a test of your mental and physical mettle.  Your determination to succeed pushes you through normal barriers and as you experience challenges it redefines your limits.  When Chris Nicholson turned up at the OMM office in his wheelchair, we thought nobody had better exemplified this mental grit to get things done.

“But there will be rocky sections and tree roots with drop-offs, and we can’t be sure how the weather will have changed the surface,” we explained when he told us that he wanted to compete on the OMM Festival’s trail race.

Chris’s response, “I need mud, rock and countryside. If there is a stile I’ll get out of my chair and haul it and myself over it.  You set the challenge and let me worry about how to get around it.”

Pretty difficult to argue with and, as many OMM competitors will experience, there is often a moment when self-doubt creeps in and they question whether their body can get them through the challenge; it would be unacceptable for us to focus on Chris’s disability rather than his ability.  So he’s in!

The race is the 10km Outdoors Magic Trail Race which is part of the OMM Festival, being held on the first bank holiday in May (3rd – 5th May).  Over 1000 people are expected to attend and take part in a mix of activities including OMM Lite and OMM Bike score courses plus flagged trail races at Marathon, Half Marathon and 10km distance.  The Festival is OMM’s way of opening the fun and adventure of Mountain Marathons to people at earlier stages in their off-road career, giving them a bit of advice along the way and letting them share it with their families. We don’t promise sun, but it is a lot more likely than it will be in Scotland in October later this year for the main event.

Chris explained that he had looked around for a trail race he could take part in but all the event organisers he spoke to said they couldn’t cater for disabled athletes.  He didn’t see any reason why the accident that occurred on the rugby field should confine him to the tarmac, something that he had already proved with a record setting summit of Mount Snowdon in 2017.

The race will be attended by Guinness World Records, who will create the first Wheelchair Trail race record. The race has support from Paralympians, Invictus athletes and military charities and we hope it will lead to new opportunities for disabled competitors in the future.  If you would like to enter and race alongside Chris then click here.  If you have any special requirements then please contact organiser: emma@theomm.com and we will be happy to discuss how we can support you.