First time Lead Course Planner, Sam Atkinson, takes us through this year’s OMM Lite in Grasmere with some fantastic route choice insight.
I would like to start this report with a massive thank you to the volunteers who worked tirelessly over the weekend to facilitate the event, the hill team who put out and collected the controls for the courses, Emma and Stuart for an incredibly well organised event and lastly to all of you who took part in the challenge. It was great to see everyone with different experience levels taking on the challenge and getting out in the hills. I hope I was able to speak to all of you over the weekend – hearing about your route choices, challenges and experiences was brilliant and made the courses I had made more than a map on a piece of paper. The weather was incredible and we are looking to book similar conditions for next year!
“…hearing about your route choices, challenges and experiences was brilliant and made the courses I had made more than a map on a piece of paper. The weather was incredible and we are looking to book similar conditions for next year!”
From my first recce’s in 2020 it quickly became apparent that area around the event centre is ideal with different challenges presented by the terrain. From the Silver How to Stickle Tarn ridge which is boggy underfoot, with minimal landmarks and criss crossing paths making navigation difficult. The high rocky peaks of Wetherlam and Pike o Blisco which presents tough climbs where the time taken to summit can be underestimated but the promise of 50 points can it make worth the risk. To the forest tracks around Little Langdale which are nice and run-able but can be disorientating with many paths and limited visibility in parts. I was wanting to accommodate for everyone’s ambitions over the weekend, having the peaks in play to test your hill legs and including the valleys for a more leisurely day out.
I wanted the control locations to not only be visible landmarks that could be navigated to on the map but to also be beauty spots or a place of interest. This meant that you were not just working towards the control and it’s relevant points but hopefully a memorable location as well. Great spots included: Skelwith bridge, the view of Langdale from Side Pike, Colwith Force, the views of Grasmere from Great Rigg, Loughrigg, Helm Crag and the popular Easdale Tarn, I hope you agree with me that Grasmere has a lot of gems and is much more than just a gingerbread shop and the residency of William Wordsworth.
I have created some estimated routes of the top 4 finishers of the courses on each day as follows, these may not be the exact routes taken but it’s what I think you will have done from the Sport Ident data. It is great to see the variety of routes taken and the different strategies in play for the courses.
It is interesting to see that Wetherlam was not visited by the top 2 teams in the Long score event. It’s a tough climb that takes longer than the map would suggest and does appear that by missing this fifty pointer more of the lower point controls could be dibbed therefore getting more points overall. In all 16 teams visited the peak much to the relief of my dad who was tasked with placing and collecting that control. Pike of Blisco was the more popular peak on day 1 with 39 teams collecting the fifty pointer. I was happy to see that Slaters Bridge and Colwith Force were dibbed by 179 and 193 teams respectively as these were attractive spots to visit on Saturday.
With the event HQ being located in the centre of the amphitheater created by the surrounding peaks I thought it was only fair you had the option to get up onto the ridges on the Sunday and experience the stunning views into Grasmere. Adding to this was the amazing weather we had and I hope some of you took the chance to cool down in Easdale Tarn. While having the major peaks of Great Rigg, Harrison Stickle, High Raise and Helm Crag on the course I still wanted a viable alternative to the ridges. This is where Loughrigg Fell and the surrounding area of Rydal Water and Elterwater was perfect, offering great routes with navigational challenges to boot.
“With the event HQ being located in the centre of the amphitheater created by the surrounding peaks I thought it was only fair you had the option to get up onto the ridges on the Sunday and experience the stunning views into Grasmere.”
We worked closely with National Trust, Lowther Estates and the local landowners to get permissions for the event. They were really helpful and enabled the planning to continue throughout the lockdowns and various rule changes. This aspect was impacted significantly with the Covid pandemic as it made the event date uncertain during most of the planning and visiting the event area/landowners was illegal for a large amount of time. In these discussions we stressed that the event was on marked trails and public rights of way at all times which is why it was imperative that this was adhered to.
This brings me onto the disqualification decision that we made and then overturned. On Sunday we had received some reports that a number of competitors were going off the marked paths on the map between checkpoints BT and CH. We looked at the timings between these 2 checkpoints and calculated what we thought would be the fastest time possible between them on the marked path on the event map. Any teams that had times faster than the ones we had calculated were DQ on the Sunday around about 3 PM. I needed to collect in some of the control points on the Sunday afternoon and with there not being a prize giving ceremony this year with Covid rules we wanted to make the decision promptly so that we could talk to the teams and any concerns could be raised before you started to leave the event centre. After discussions with the teams affected by this ruling we were made aware that there is a path between these 2 checkpoints that is not marked on the Harveys maps but is marked on the OS map and there is a distinct trail on the ground. With this being the case we deemed that no rule had been broken and that this was a viable route to be taken between the checkpoints. As part of the planning for next year I am looking to check between the available maps and get the event map as detailed as possible so that everyone can make route decisions from the same data.
“As part of the planning for next year I am looking to check between the available maps and get the event map as detailed as possible so that everyone can make route decisions from the same data.”
This was my first event as lead on the planning of the courses, I really enjoyed the challenge of putting together interesting and beautiful courses for you. As with every OMM event we review it on completion to see what we can learn and change for next time. Some of these are:
- Scale of the map and the level of detail included in it.
- Designation of checkpoints, the keen eyed among you may have figured out I used a naming scheme for the checkpoints where a gate would be G and Bridge B etc, this worked most of the time apart from controls GL and GJ which look very similar and I had placed them next to each other on the map. This made it very easy to mix them up when placing them out and it’s what happened over the weekend, so I will be looking to make the checkpoints names dissimilar next year.
- More distinct annotation of the start location
- How we present the checkpoints on the map to ensure we don’t obscure navigational details
We always welcome feedback so if you have other points please send them through.
In conclusion I had an absolute blast over the weekend and I hope you did too! Thanks again for coming along and taking on the challenge. I am already poring over the maps thinking how I can make the event area bigger and better for 28th & 29th of May 2022. With the Grasmere Gallop back on for next year it’s lining up to be a festival for the whole family.