Mountain Marathons & Me
Stuart Smith

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be” – John Lennon

I aim to give you a bit of a grin and some tales of the not-normal from my times on Mountain Marathons (KIMM & OMM). I have taken part in these events since 1990 at Loch Rannoch, though I haven’t completed every one I have started and there’s always a brilliant excuse as to why not.

“Shall we find a door to knock on and ask for a lift….?”

PLEASE READ ALL THE MAP INFO

“Shall we find a door to knock on and ask for a lift?”

This is a dialogue from my partner and I whilst wandering around the Galloway Forest in the gathering gloom and dreich dirge of a Saturday night in late October a few years ago.

We eventually swallowed our pride and even more eventually found a house to knock the householder out of  their comfy chair and repatriate John and I back to some event field somewhere hours later.

We had decided to retire and headed in the vague direction of the Start/ Finish field. We made a plan which involved following a forested Galloway Glen toward a road and back to retirement. The Glen hit a road that sadly didn’t appear on our race map.

So Rock, Paper, Scissors made our East or West decision and off we trudged. Obviously with hindsight, which is always 20/20, the wrong way! So maybe another 20mins; we thought…. Nowt.

We found a house, we were sodden, sullen, sore. We knocked on the door and explained our plight to the backdrop of Saturday Night Ant and Dec to the Lady with the excited dogs. “Can we get a lift back to the event centre please?”

“What Event?” she replied, we explained there are 2000 runners in her ‘back garden’ and the big white tents. She looked back vaguely, “Never heard of it?”.

Which wormhole of a Glen had we exited? After an hour driving around we eventually saw some red & white tape in a tree and then found the marquees. Wet through and covered in excited dog hairs and slobber we handed in our control sheet.

Three hours later we were having chips and beer in Penrith talking gibberish and heading home to clean the bio-hazard kit.

I have a long relationship with the KIMM and OMM, from listening to stories from friends who had completed the KIMM, to working with Mike Parsons (original sponsor and long term participant) designing and testing MM kit. Then training a broad spectrum of folk in MM skills along with Joe Faulkner from NAV4 Adventure, who Mike and Ken Ledward approached to facilitate the transition for safety reasons as the ‘marathon’ trend runners went onto the mountains to face the elements. I am also an avid MM advocate, Gerry Charnley’s vision of it being ‘no Sunday picnic’ still thrives.

Not really your normal conversation or happenings at an event that is never normal. The Original Mountain Marathon has seen a lot of ‘non-normal' in its lifetime since 1968.

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

The folks at OMM asked if my partner Barefoot Aleks and I would run in some 1968 kit?

They reckoned I would have some stashed somewhere! “No way, I would die”, was my exasperated reply.

We made a compromise and ran in some 80s kit, iconic Red KIMM packs with obligatory Yellow Karrimat and the tent of choice a Green Saunders JetPacker, that I have used on nearly all my MMs

These red packs were very innovative at the time, super lightweight and functional. The Karrimat invented in 1968 was the sleep mat of choice. The campsites, if the weather is playing nice, are great places to meet new friends and find old ones. Sometimes it looks like a scene of extras from Shaun of the Dead, the zombie shuffle with feet enclosed in plastic bags.

OMM asked if my partner Barefoot Aleks and I would run in some 1968 kit?..."No way I would die"

ALWAYS TAKE NOTE OF WHERE YOUR TENT IS

I was on one site in a different year and on the morning of day two, went to the toilet after the slit trenches had been replaced by portaloos. The queue was so long that by the time I had come back, the green tent along with my mate, had gone; I’d had no brekkie and now no pack or tent. I thought there had been a Zombie attack!! I shouted their name and the usual wags shouted back in reply, mostly this is a nighttime activity when the weary can’t find their tent.

Eventually it turned out they had gone to start as we were due an early start time, talk about having the runs!

Talking of partners I have had a few over the years, I can't seem to keep them, they are either too fast or I am too slow for them.

BE AWARE OF YOUR PARTNER’S NEEDS

Joe and I went to collect controls after the 50th event in some interesting weather. They still have to be found and carried back and the job isn’t much easier than the event, especially if you haven’t put them out in the first place…plus I had achy legs after trotting around with Aleks without his shoes on.*

Anyway, I fell over running and Joe calmly got his first aid priorities right; 1.Look after Self 2. Take Pic For The ‘Gram 3. Then softly say “There, there” and “let’s get a move on as we need a brew to sort this out”.

*Aleks asked the RO if he could go barefoot (after having already run a LEJOG and the North Cape to Gibraltar, likewise) they stated that participants must have Fell Shoes, so he carried them in his pack. He did wear some sandal things, however…soft.

Talking of partners I have had a few over the years, I can’t seem to keep them, they are either too fast or I am too slow for them. So my record is three events with the same partner. I know one person who had the same partner for 30 years, you get less for murder, as they say.

On the 51st OMM I ran with Vassos from Virgin Radio, he had the OMM as part of his bucket list. You can see some of the footage from the event on the OMM YouTube Channel HERE.

So my record is three events with the same partner, I know one person who had the same partner for 30 yrs, you get less for murder as they say.

ALWAYS CHECK YOUR KIT BEFORE THE EVENT

Vassos phoned me after his work on Friday and asked if the Brecons would be muddy or rocky? I said it was mostly muddy and wanted to know more about this strange request. He told me he was in a local store in London, buying new shoes since, as he was packing the previous night, he asked his wife where his fell running shoes were, she said, “Do you mean the muddy smelly things near the door? I threw them out as they were muddy and smelly!”

So in the tent that night. after a snowy day, Vassos was sorting his blisters out.

I thought I would be nice and treat him to some top scran, Olives that I had drained and carried in my hat. I offered him some and he politely refused, stating he didn’t like olives, adding that he didn’t care for the tomatoes I had been eating in the marquee the night before, either. I demanded an ethnicity test there and then as I couldn’t believe his claims to Greek heritage.

As were about 6km from day one finish my shoe decided it had done enough in its long life and fell out with me.

BE NICE TO EVERYONE, ONE DAY YOU MAY NEED SOMEONE TO BE NICE TO YOU

Talking of shoes and having checked your kit; at the OMM event in 2011 I have to admit to a shoe failure of my own. Nina and I were going well as we walked out of the prison camp in the rain, up the steep hill to the start. After that, we weren’t going so well later in the day.

As were about 6km from day one finish, my shoe decided it had done enough in its long life and fell out with me.

I finished the day in my sock over, the wet rocks and heather. We then had to decide what to do for day two as I had sore feet and had lost my soul for carrying on. We chose walking back out to finish. We were lucky as the film crew saw my pludging plight and offered a lift to the event centre.

I enjoy the build-up to the OMM, the craic on the Friday night in the marquee and at the boggy/midgey/sunny/warm/ wet/ lumpy/convivial/piper/megaphonic/atmospheric (delete as applicable) overnight campsite.

I was introduced after RO Stu Hamilton, then Legend Wendy Dodds and record breaker Steve Birkinshaw, as "Stuart Smith...just 'cos he is". Made me chuckle.

ALWAYS BE HUMBLE, TRY NOT TO STUMBLE OR GRUMBLE

I was very honoured and humbled to be asked to do some Friday evening chats in the big tent and also the 50th Event Q&A session.

I was with some MM glitterati on stage, in some 1968 kit; woolly hat and cotton smock. I was introduced after RO Stu Hamilton, then multiple-entrant legend Wendy Dodds and multiple winner & record breaker Steve Birkinshaw, as “Stuart Smith…just ‘cos he is”.

Made me chuckle.

The campsites, if the weather is playing nice, are great places to meet new friends and find old ones. Sometimes it looks like a scene of extras from Shaun of the Dead

THAT’S ALL FOR NOW FOLKS!

Hopefully enjoy your training and event

I hope to tell more tales and enjoy the days.

Thanks, Stuart Smith – NAV4 Adventure

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be” – John Lennon

I aim to give you a bit of a grin and some tales of the not-normal from my times on Mountain Marathons (KIMM & OMM). I have taken part in these events since 1990 at Loch Rannoch, though I haven’t completed every one I have started and there’s always a brilliant excuse as to why not.

“Shall we find a door to knock on and ask for a lift….?”

PLEASE READ ALL THE MAP INFO

“Shall we find a door to knock on and ask for a lift?”

This is a dialogue from my partner and I whilst wandering around the Galloway Forest in the gathering gloom and dreich dirge of a Saturday night in late October a few years ago.

We eventually swallowed our pride and even more eventually found a house to knock the householder out of  their comfy chair and repatriate John and I back to some event field somewhere hours later.

We had decided to retire and headed in the vague direction of the Start/ Finish field. We made a plan which involved following a forested Galloway Glen toward a road and back to retirement. The Glen hit a road that sadly didn’t appear on our race map.

So Rock, Paper, Scissors made our East or West decision and off we trudged. Obviously with hindsight, which is always 20/20, the wrong way! So maybe another 20mins; we thought…. Nowt.

We found a house, we were sodden, sullen, sore. We knocked on the door and explained our plight to the backdrop of Saturday Night Ant and Dec to the Lady with the excited dogs. “Can we get a lift back to the event centre please?”

“What Event?” she replied, we explained there are 2000 runners in her ‘back garden’ and the big white tents. She looked back vaguely, “Never heard of it?”.

Which wormhole of a Glen had we exited? After an hour driving around we eventually saw some red & white tape in a tree and then found the marquees. Wet through and covered in excited dog hairs and slobber we handed in our control sheet.

Three hours later we were having chips and beer in Penrith talking gibberish and heading home to clean the bio-hazard kit.

I have a long relationship with the KIMM and OMM, from listening to stories from friends who had completed the KIMM, to working with Mike Parsons (original sponsor and long term participant) designing and testing MM kit. Then training a broad spectrum of folk in MM skills along with Joe Faulkner from NAV4 Adventure, who Mike and Ken Ledward approached to facilitate the transition for safety reasons as the ‘marathon’ trend runners went onto the mountains to face the elements. I am also an avid MM advocate, Gerry Charnley’s vision of it being ‘no Sunday picnic’ still thrives.

Not really your normal conversation or happenings at an event that is never normal. The Original Mountain Marathon has seen a lot of ‘non-normal' in its lifetime since 1968.

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

The folks at OMM asked if my partner Barefoot Aleks and I would run in some 1968 kit?

They reckoned I would have some stashed somewhere! “No way, I would die”, was my exasperated reply.

We made a compromise and ran in some 80s kit, iconic Red KIMM packs with obligatory Yellow Karrimat and the tent of choice a Green Saunders JetPacker, that I have used on nearly all my MMs

These red packs were very innovative at the time, super lightweight and functional. The Karrimat invented in 1968 was the sleep mat of choice. The campsites, if the weather is playing nice, are great places to meet new friends and find old ones. Sometimes it looks like a scene of extras from Shaun of the Dead, the zombie shuffle with feet enclosed in plastic bags.

OMM asked if my partner Barefoot Aleks and I would run in some 1968 kit?..."No way I would die"

ALWAYS TAKE NOTE OF WHERE YOUR TENT IS

I was on one site in a different year and on the morning of day two, went to the toilet after the slit trenches had been replaced by portaloos. The queue was so long that by the time I had come back, the green tent along with my mate, had gone; I’d had no brekkie and now no pack or tent. I thought there had been a Zombie attack!! I shouted their name and the usual wags shouted back in reply, mostly this is a nighttime activity when the weary can’t find their tent.

Eventually it turned out they had gone to start as we were due an early start time, talk about having the runs!

Talking of partners I have had a few over the years, I can't seem to keep them, they are either too fast or I am too slow for them.

BE AWARE OF YOUR PARTNER’S NEEDS

Joe and I went to collect controls after the 50th event in some interesting weather. They still have to be found and carried back and the job isn’t much easier than the event, especially if you haven’t put them out in the first place…plus I had achy legs after trotting around with Aleks without his shoes on.*

Anyway, I fell over running and Joe calmly got his first aid priorities right; 1.Look after Self 2. Take Pic For The ‘Gram 3. Then softly say “There, there” and “let’s get a move on as we need a brew to sort this out”.

*Aleks asked the RO if he could go barefoot (after having already run a LEJOG and the North Cape to Gibraltar, likewise) they stated that participants must have Fell Shoes, so he carried them in his pack. He did wear some sandal things, however…soft.

Talking of partners I have had a few over the years, I can’t seem to keep them, they are either too fast or I am too slow for them. So my record is three events with the same partner. I know one person who had the same partner for 30 years, you get less for murder, as they say.

On the 51st OMM I ran with Vassos from Virgin Radio, he had the OMM as part of his bucket list. You can see some of the footage from the event on the OMM YouTube Channel HERE.

So my record is three events with the same partner, I know one person who had the same partner for 30 yrs, you get less for murder as they say.

ALWAYS CHECK YOUR KIT BEFORE THE EVENT

Vassos phoned me after his work on Friday and asked if the Brecons would be muddy or rocky? I said it was mostly muddy and wanted to know more about this strange request. He told me he was in a local store in London, buying new shoes since, as he was packing the previous night, he asked his wife where his fell running shoes were, she said, “Do you mean the muddy smelly things near the door? I threw them out as they were muddy and smelly!”

So in the tent that night. after a snowy day, Vassos was sorting his blisters out.

I thought I would be nice and treat him to some top scran, Olives that I had drained and carried in my hat. I offered him some and he politely refused, stating he didn’t like olives, adding that he didn’t care for the tomatoes I had been eating in the marquee the night before, either. I demanded an ethnicity test there and then as I couldn’t believe his claims to Greek heritage.

As were about 6km from day one finish my shoe decided it had done enough in its long life and fell out with me.

BE NICE TO EVERYONE, ONE DAY YOU MAY NEED SOMEONE TO BE NICE TO YOU

Talking of shoes and having checked your kit; at the OMM event in 2011 I have to admit to a shoe failure of my own. Nina and I were going well as we walked out of the prison camp in the rain, up the steep hill to the start. After that, we weren’t going so well later in the day.

As were about 6km from day one finish, my shoe decided it had done enough in its long life and fell out with me.

I finished the day in my sock over, the wet rocks and heather. We then had to decide what to do for day two as I had sore feet and had lost my soul for carrying on. We chose walking back out to finish. We were lucky as the film crew saw my pludging plight and offered a lift to the event centre.

I enjoy the build-up to the OMM, the craic on the Friday night in the marquee and at the boggy/midgey/sunny/warm/ wet/ lumpy/convivial/piper/megaphonic/atmospheric (delete as applicable) overnight campsite.

I was introduced after RO Stu Hamilton, then Legend Wendy Dodds and record breaker Steve Birkinshaw, as "Stuart Smith...just 'cos he is". Made me chuckle.

ALWAYS BE HUMBLE, TRY NOT TO STUMBLE OR GRUMBLE

I was very honoured and humbled to be asked to do some Friday evening chats in the big tent and also the 50th Event Q&A session.

I was with some MM glitterati on stage, in some 1968 kit; woolly hat and cotton smock. I was introduced after RO Stu Hamilton, then multiple-entrant legend Wendy Dodds and multiple winner & record breaker Steve Birkinshaw, as “Stuart Smith…just ‘cos he is”.

Made me chuckle.

The campsites, if the weather is playing nice, are great places to meet new friends and find old ones. Sometimes it looks like a scene of extras from Shaun of the Dead

THAT’S ALL FOR NOW FOLKS!

Hopefully enjoy your training and event

I hope to tell more tales and enjoy the days.

Thanks, Stuart Smith – NAV4 Adventure

Stuart has competed in the OMM since 1990 and is as much a part of the event as the wind, rain and finishline brew. A well-respected member of the outdoor professional community, Stuart ('Stumpy' to some) has lead expeditions all over the world and continues to work on some of the biggest and baddest events the world-over; from Mongolia, to Iceland and on to Borneo and back again. Look out for his signature beard and smile at race HQ and buy that man a beer.
Stuart has competed in the OMM since 1990 and is as much a part of the event as the wind, rain and finishline brew. A well-respected member of the outdoor professional community, Stuart ('Stumpy' to some) has lead expeditions all over the world and continues to work on some of the biggest and baddest events the world-over; from Mongolia, to Iceland and on to Borneo and back again. Look out for his signature beard and smile at race HQ and buy that man a beer.

If you have a story to tell, whether it’s from the OMM, another race or challenge or just how you use our kit, get in touch! Just pop an email to james@team-ark.com and who knows, you might just earn yourself some free kit!

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