Date Friday 10th June to Sunday 12th June 2011 Location Map
Start Location Just south of Ullapool
Weather Saturday:Sunny and Blue Skies, Sunday:Sunny and Blue Skies
Accompanied by Scott
Class B
Statistics Day 1 Position: 51/67, Time: 06:51:22
Statistics Day 2 Position: 35/65, Time: 05:47:08
Overall Statistics Position: 47/67, Time: 12:38:30

Friday

LAMM Logo Beinn Dearg 2011

LAMM Logo Beinn Dearg 2011

With seven mountain marathons ‘under our belts’ in the last two years, we have favoured really well weather-wise with only the odd day less than decent. Probably the worse being day one of the Mourne in 2010 and that was not horrendous. The 2011 LAMM looked just as good with an excellent forecast for the north-west Highlands where the event was taking place this year. As usual, I was running with Scott but this time we were being accompanied up north with Mike, a guy I had met on my Mountain Leader Assessment a couple of years back and his mate Russ. We all met up at my house and set off up to Ullapool mid-afternoon. Unfortunately, a serious car accident on the notorious A9 caused huge delays but we were in no rush so we just took our time and arrived early evening at the event centre just south of Ullapool. We registered and chilled out for an uneventful evening.

Saturday

The next morning whilst we were getting our kit sorted I pulled my jacket off over my head which in turn also removed the hat I was wearing. Somehow, the elastic cord that secures the hat around your chin stretched and when it was released, the adjustment toggle walloped my in the eye. To say it was painful was an understatement but more concerning was the fact that the vision in my right eye had gone. It was like looking through a steamed up window. Scott thought it was hilarious and took the rip big time but I was less than humoured. Not the start you want before a mountain marathon. (It took a full week before my eyesight returned to normal.) I put on my sunglasses, which alleviated the issue to some extent and then headed for the coach that would be taking us to the start.

This year we were running in Class B so this was a decent ‘step-up’ from Class C the previous year. We arrived at the start, a plantation near Loch Droma. We dibbed in then set off up towards the first checkpoint, a spur located just near the Allt Leacachain. We ‘ran-walked’ up to the checkpoint without any issues, dibbed then set off to checkpoint two’ located on the summit of Beinn Dearg. We discussed route options. We could head up towards the path that runs from Lochdrum towards the Corbett, Beinn Enaiglair then head up over the top, Iorguill and up the north-west ridge to the summit. The other option was to take a direct line to the summit by dropping 150 metres into Mucranaich then follow Allt Beinn Dearg into the Coire Beinn Dearg and then up to the summit. We took the second option, although this would mean some additional height loss and gain but it did look the quickest option. We dropped down to Mucranaich and with blue skies and the sun out, Beinn Dearg looked amazing.

Running over to Beinn Dearg

Running over to Beinn Dearg

It was a fair old slog to the summit but the views from the top were amazing. The formidable An Teallach to the west, Suilven and Stac Polliadh to the north-west. Amazing! My eye was giving my no end of grief and trying to focus on the map was giving me a headache so Scott took control of route planning and navigation. The third checkpoint was located on a stream-bend on the Allt a’ Chuaille and Scott suggested staying high and rather than dropping down to Loch Tuath where there was potential for slow progress on boggy ground. We would then skirt around Coire Loch Tuath and then head around the top, Cnap Coire Loch Tuath and then down the east shoulder to the checkpoint. Continue reading »
Date Friday 15th April to Sunday 17th April 2011 Dundonell Location Map
Start Location Car Park near Durnamuck
Weather Saturday: Overcast, windy on tops
(7.5°C, 75.5% Humidity, 18.4km/h Wind Speed)
Sunday: Sunny and Blue Skies
(11.0°C, 61.9% Humidity, 16.7km/h Wind Speed)
Accompanied by Scott
Class B
Statistics Day 1 Position: 9/13, Time: 06:49:43, Distance: 32.65km, Ascent: 1237m
Statistics Day 2 Position: 8/13, Time: 06:08:50, Distance: 24.55km, Ascent: 1274m
Overall Statistics Position: 8/13, Time: 12:58:33, Distance: 57.20km, Ascent: 2511m

Friday

Wild camping near the Allt an t-Srathain

Wild camping near the Allt an t-Srathain

I was really looking forward to this year’s Highlander Mountain Marathon. It was red hot at last year’s event (Gairloch was the sunniest location in the UK on that weekend) and with a small field, it meant you spent lots of time on your own. This year’s event centre was located in Ullapool and with no campsite arranged for you on the Friday evening we decided to just wild camp somewhere near the side of the road after we had registered.

The journey up north was uneventful and by 7pm we had arrived in Ullapool and had registered. Our coach pick up time was 7am the following morning. We drove out of the town centre and headed north for a couple of miles. Just as we crossed the Allt an t-Srathian, there was a minor road that headed towards Dhue. Parking up here we found a great place to camp right next to the Allt. I had forgotten to charge up the device that automatically blows up the inflatable bed so there was some fun and games holding it down on Scott’s car whilst we inflated it via the cigarette lighter socket. We chilled out for the rest of the evening then settled down for the night. Continue reading »
Date Saturday 25th September to Sunday 26th September 2010 Location Map
Start Location South East Lake District
Weather Dry with sunny intervals
Accompanied by Scott
Class Score
Statistics Day 1 Position: 39/270, Points: 200, Time: 05:44:52
Statistics Day 2 Position: 111/268, Points: 120, Time: 04:49:36
Overall Statistics Position: 61/268, Points: 320, Time: 10:55:41

Saturday

The event centre

Four days after arriving back from the Mourne Mountain Marathon in Northern Ireland I was once again heading down the motorway; destination the Lake District. The good news was that it was only a 45 minute drive from Scott’s flat to the event centre in Bampton, south-east Lake District so we would not need to camp and could get a decent nights sleep and breakfast. The following morning, at 7am we where heading down the A66 with blue skies and sunshine above. The check-in time was flexible and we mulled around the shop for a while before heading up to the start. We where told to allow plenty of time to get to the beginning of the race and the organisers where not wrong, it was 2.5km and a height gain of 166 metres before we even set off! This provided a good warm-up however and 30 minutes later we had dibbed in at the start and was planning our route for the day. On the last score event we entered, we rushed the planning and missed out on some decent scoring checkpoints so we took a good ten minutes to plan things out this time.

Heading down to Fordingsdale Bottom

Our plan was to tick off some quick checkpoints near the start then head through Fordingdale Bottom, up onto High Raise and then drop down to Hayeswater and up to Lingy Crag located near Angle Tarn. From here, we would make a decision depending on the time. We headed off to the first checkpoint, a simple 10 pointer located south-east of the start. With this in the bag we headed west to the next checkpoint, another 10 pointer on the top of Four Stones Hill. With decent weather, navigation was easy and we headed off the top and picked up the path that ran down towards Fordingsdale Bottom. We stayed a little bit high to avoid any marshy ground and as the clock hit an hour we dibbed in at our third checkpoint.
Continue reading »

Date Friday 11th June to Sunday 13th June 2010 Location Map
Start Location Glen Fyne
Weather Saturday:Sunny and Blue Skies, Sunday:Cloud and Rain
Accompanied by Scott
Class C
Statistics Day 1 Position: 64/143, Time: 06:39:33
Statistics Day 2 Position: 45/143, Time: 04:47:52
Overall Statistics Position: 53/143, Time: 11:27:25

Friday

LAMM Logo 2010 Glen Fyne

LAMM Logo 2010 Glen Fyne

The LAMM Event Centre (Photo by Andrew Leaney)

This was our forth mountain marathon and second LAMM. After a reasonable debut last year in class D, where we made the chasing start, we decided to move up a category to class C. Training had been good and we where pretty optomistic about a decent finish and making the chasing start for the Sunday.

It only took 2 hours to drive up from Dunfermline to the event centre at the head of Loch Fyne. We had taken Scott’s three man tent with us this time so we could have a little ‘extra’ comfort at base camp and my aerobed fitted nice and snug inside. I had also brought my two hob and grill cooker so we could give the bacon butty experience a miss and have some porridge for breakfast instead. We set up the tent, grabbed a brew and registered. There was the usual buzz around the event centre and the ale which had been provided by a local brewary was going down a treat. We decided to give the beer a miss although in hindsight, we may have performed better with a ‘skin full’! Our pickup time for the next day was 8:40am.

Saturday

Bag Piper at LAMM Event centre on Saturday Morning

Bag Piper at LAMM Event centre on Saturday Morning

Maybe it was a sign of things to come but knocking a full pan of porridge off the stove and onto the floor was the first of many minor irritations that cumulated into a pretty disastorous day. Fortunately in the case of the porridge, we had some bagels to fill the gap and this year we where awake and fully prepared for the bag piper that LAMM hire to ensure that no one oversleeps. I won’t deny that I was confident as we walked to the awaiting and I was excited to see the map had a couple of checkpoints located on the summits of Munros.

The First Hill at the 'Rest and be Thankful'

The First Hill at the 'Rest and be Thankful' (Photo by Andrew Leaney)

We started from the ‘Rest and be thankful’ viewpoint near Loch Restil at 246 metres and the first checkpoint was located near the saddle between Beinn Luibhean and Beinn Ime. The route choice was pretty obvious, head north-east around the shoulder of Beinn Luibhean and drop down to the saddle. We pushed on up and made reasonable progress until we where stopped in our tracks by a load shout from above. Some guy had decided to scramble across a rocky section near the summit of Beinn Ime and had triggered a mini-rockfall. Three boulders, the size of a ‘kitchen sink’ hurtled down the mountain side and fortunately passed either side I remember being transfixed to the spot and thinking that if one of them hits something and takes a diversion then it is ‘Game Over’. After this close call we headed over the top and dropped down to the bealach and ‘dibbed in’ at the first checkpoint. Continue reading »
Date Saturday 10th April to Sunday 11th April 2010 Location Map
Start Location Gairloch
Weather Sunny and Blue Skies
Accompanied by Scott
Class Score
Statistics Day 1 Position: 13/37, Points: 265, Time: 05:54:16
Statistics Day 2 Position: 15/37, Points: 146, Time: 05:01:25
Overall Statistics Position: 13/37, Points: 411, Time: 10:55:41
Highlander-MM-2010 26

Refreshed and ready for action!

Although the weather was a little cooler in the morning, by the time we had eaten breakfast, packed up our gear and headed up the B8056 to the start at the intersection of the A832, the skies where blue and the sun was beginning to shine. It was definitely going be a another hot day. We dibbed in at the start, grabbed the checkpoint list and began planning our route. There was not going to be a repeat performance of yesterday where we rushed and this time we marked down the score for every checkpoint.

The checkpoints where in a more compact area for day 2 but their locations looked a little more technical and we had 5 hours rather than 6 hours on day One. Our plan was to avoid the high scoring checkpoints to the north-east and the two ’20 point’ checkpoints to the south-east. Instead we would ‘knock-off’ the three nearby 10 pointers and then head into the central band of checkpoints and work our way north-west to the finish where there was a group of six checkpoints in a 2.5km square that we could collect if we had the time.
Continue reading »

Date Saturday 10th April to Sunday 11th April 2010 Location Map
Start Location Gairloch
Weather Sunny and Blue Skies
Accompanied by Scott
Class Score
Statistics Day 1 Position: 13/37, Points: 265, Time: 05:54:16
Statistics Day 2 Position: 15/37, Points: 146, Time: 05:01:25
Overall Statistics Position: 13/37, Points: 411, Time: 10:55:41
Camping at Sands Caravan & Camping

The closest thing to wild camping at a camp site

This was our third mountain marathon but the first time we where running the Highlander and also the first time we had competed in a ‘Score’ class. In a linear class you navigate to a series of markers that must be visited in a specific order and the fastest time (cumulative over two days) is the winner. In the score class each checkpoint is given a value in points and the aim is to visit as many checkpoints as possible, in any order, within a specific time period. The highest score (once again, cumulative over two days) wins. Markers in difficult places are worth more points and there are heavy penalties if you over run the time limit.

The 2010 event was to be held in the area around Gairloch which was pretty exciting as I have never been that far up the west coast. An added bonus was the amazing weather forecast for the weekend (It turned out that Gairloch was the sunniest place in the UK that weekend!) Scott left his car at mine and we headed off up the A9 toward Inverness in the Mazda. We made decent progress and stopped briefly to admire the awesome Slioch before heading into Gairloch itself. We where going to spend the Friday night camping at the Sands Caravan & Camping centre which was located conveniently near the event centre. After setting up our tents, registering at the event centre and grabbing something to eat, we chilled out for a while overlooking the sea and watching the sun set over Skye to the west.
Continue reading »

Date Friday 5th June to Sunday 7th June 2009 Location Map
Start Location Morvich, Kintail
Weather Saturday:Sunny and Blue Skies, Sunday:Sunny and Blue Skies
Accompanied by Scott
Class D
Statistics Day 1 Position: 22/116, Time: 05:51:50
Statistics Day 2 Position: 12/116, Time: 04:07:18
Overall Statistics Position: 17/116, Time: 09:59:08
LAMM Logo Kintail 2009

LAMM Logo Kintail 2009

Go back ten years and I was studying computing at college. One day I was reading Trail magazine and there was an article on a guy who was dominating the Elite category in the OMM (or KIMM as it was then). The man in question so happened to be my lecturer and when I chatted to him about the article who told me about all his fell running exploits and how amazing mountain marathons were. It sounded amazing and something I really fancied, but in them days the furthest I ran was to the bar when last orders were called. Fast forward to 2009 and I was looking for a new challenge. I had done the road running stuff; marathons, half marathons etc. but wanted something different. It was then I came across the LAMM. A mountain marathon held in Scotland. I remembered the lecturer and how the conversation we had ten years back. How about getting involved in this? Unfortunately, I could get no one to run with me (you need a team of two). Eventually, I mentioned this to Scott, a good mate of mine who I met in Bolton in 1994 and he was keen. We had one training run together, bought all the mandatory kit and we were ready for action (or so we thought).

Friday

Camping at the event centre in Morvich (Photo by Jon Brooke)

Camping at the event centre in Morvich (Photo by Jon Brooke)

I had never been further west than Spean Bridge so I was really looking forward to getting to Kintail. The area looked amazing, especially the Five Sisters and the South Glen Shiel Ridge. By 7pm we were parked up and had set up our tent. Our naivety was pretty evident from the start as we promptly disposed of the plastic foot shaped bags you are given to keep your feet dry at mid camp.

“What the hell are these useless things for? Just chuck ‘em in the bin. We don’t need them!”

We milled around the event centre tent for a while. There was definitely a great buzz about the place. Far more than anything I had experienced at other races, where you turn up 30 minutes before the start and then set off running. The sun was beginning to sink to the west and so we retired to our tent, chatted for a while then called it a night and got some sleep. Continue reading »
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