he LAMM 2010 Glen Fyne would be our fourth 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 were pretty optimistic 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 brewery 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 – Position: 64/143, Time: 06:39:33
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 disastrous 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 bagpiper that LAMM hire to ensure that no one oversleeps. I will not 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.
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.
The next checkpoint was on the summit of Ben Vane. I suggested to Scott that maybe the best route would be to contour around the northern side of Beinn Ime between Beinn Ime and Beinn Chorranach and then drop down to the bealach and up to the summit of Ben Vane. For some reason we decided against this and instead, decided to ascend over the south-eastern shoulder Beinn Ime and then head north west to the bealach and then up to the summit of Ben Vane.
There is no doubt now that this was the incorrect choice but I suppose one of the good things about racing mountain marathons is the fact that you can make poor decisions when under pressure. I reckon that we could of saved a good 15 minutes by taking the alternate route.
We dropped down into the saddle and joined the stream of people ascending up Ben Vane. It was just not possible to run up here (for us anyway) so we walked as fast as we could, momentarily putting on a burst of speed to pass slower people. I knew Ben Vane only just made munro status, being a mere 1.5 metres above the cut-off but the sun was beating down and the going was tough. The view from the top was pretty amazing but we did not dwell for long and instead just quickly ‘punched in’ and headed off north towards Beinn Dubh and a ring contour at 694 metres.
No issues here and soon we were heading steeply downhill to about 350 metres and then back uphill to the next checkpoint on Maol an t-Sratha. Two choices here; take a bearing and head for it which would mean crossing through a wooded area and then up the hillside or take the long route and head on a winding track, longer but hopefully quicker. We took the second option and I think it was the correct decision, we had opened a small gap on some of the people who where at the last checkpoint.
The next checkpoint was a re-entrant north-west of Maol Breac. This was probably our worst checkpoint of the day; the ground was tough going, full of tussocks and we were reduced to a slow walk across the top. There did not seem to be anyone else running but we must of been moving extra slow because the gap we had opened up on some of the people behind was reduced. To make matters worse we took our eye of the compass and got sucked into following other people with the end result of us drifting wide and overshooting the checkpoint.
After we had corrected out error and found the checkpoint. we dibbed in and immediately pushed on to the next checkpoint on the edge of a forest plantation at about 350 metres. As the crow files this was a good 5km away but if we went straight there then it would involve a descent to 322 metres then an ascent across what looked like boggy marshland at 500 metres and then another descent into Glen Fyne at 160 metres. The other option was to descend down to the reservoir and follow a landrover track into the forest then follow the path up through Glen Fyne. We took the second option and after a ‘knee busting’ descent from Maol Breac we hit the path near the reservoir. It was good to be running on level ground and if we had more stamina I think we could of pushed a little harder. As it was, we ran along the flat and downhill parts and walked the uphill sections. We eventually reached the tree line at Meall Reamhar and pushed up the steep grassy slope to the top. The sun was really baking now and this climb was tough. Scott was suffering with cramp and I was totally wasted.
One more checkpoint to go, a junction on a stream that runs into the River Fyne. We joined the line of other people progressing slowly across the ground. We should of been running this but we had nothing left to give. I knew we had not performed and the huge number of tents already pitched at mid camp confirmed the fact that we had run a slow time.
We downloaded at the tent and received our official time and current position; 6 hours 39 minutes and we where currently in 46th place with the leader a huge 1 hour and 50 minutes ahead of us. Deflated, we headed up the hillside to put up our tent and reflect on our performance. It had not been a good day and everything was blamed from the weight of the food we where carrying to the colour of the grass on the hillside! We had something to eat and then joined the other couple of dozen people around a radio to listen to England’s world cup opener against the USA. After England’s woeful performance we headed off back to the tent for some sleep.
Sunday – Position: 45/143, Time: 04:47:52
We awoke the following morning to cloud, rain and midges. Well at least it was not hot and it would be good to do some navigating in less favourable conditions. We did not waste much time having breakfast and soon we where ready to set off. Because we had not made the chasing start we could leave at any time between 7am and 8am. At 7.30am we had punched in at the start and where off up the first steep climb towards our first checkpoint. The route for day 2 did not seem as tough as the day before but there was still the small matter of the Munro, Beinn Bhuidhe to ascend.
Our first checkpoint did not offer any issues. Located on the edge of a big lochan near Beinn Bhoidheach, it was just a case of using the lochan as a catching feature and navigating to the checkpoint. As it was, we pretty much hit the checkpoint spot on and continued to our next checkpoint, a re-entrant three km’s to the west. There was another checkpoint nearby on a spot height for the ‘B’ class and momentarily we got drawn towards this but we realised the issue and trusted the compass and bearing. One hour and eighteen minutes down and we had completed two checkpoints and more importantly, we had maintained a steady pace.
We moved on to our next checkpoint located on the southern side of the dam for Lochan Shira Reservoir. We hit the road on the dam and maintained a decent speed then joined a line of people ascending up the grassy slopes to the checkpoint. We dibbed in and then started the 550 metre climb to the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe. Running was not an option, it was just a case of putting one foot in front of the other and walking as fast as possible. On the northern flank we converged with the D class and there was a steady line of people moving to the top. It was a surreal experience; no one was talking and all you could hear was the plod of feet on the ground as people where lost in their own thoughts.
After what seemed an eternity and a number of false summits, we hit the top and then assessed the route to our next checkpoint on the top of Newton Hill, south east from our current location. Scott suggested a direct bearing and I could see no issue with this so we headed off initially east and then south east from the summit. The rain had made the grass really slippy and it looked like a scene from ‘It’s a Knockout’ as people stumbled, slipped and slid down the mountain side. Participants from the D class where heading for a different checkpoint but in a similar area and I suspect that you could easily end up going to the wrong checkpoint if you were not careful.
We made decent progress and hit the checkpoint pretty spot on. All that remained was a checkpoint at a gate at the edge of a forest, one near a power station and the finish. All three checkpoints where on a track and did not seem to present any issues. We ran as fast as we could, determined not to walk the last part and managed to overtake many teams who were either walking or running slow.
Finish – Position: 53/143, Time: 11:27:25
We completed day 2 in 45th position with a time of 4 hours 47 minutes and 53 seconds, just over an hour behind the leaders, a vast improvement on day 1 where we were close to two hours behind. Our overall time was 11 hours 27 minutes and 25 seconds giving us an overall position of 53rd.
|Checkpoint||Leg Rank||Leg Time||Cumulative Time|
|1 – Reentrant (stream source)||87||00:51:59||00:51:59|
|2 – Summit, western cairn||78||01:29:08||02:21:07|
|3 – Knoll||82||00:22:03||02:43:10|
|4 – Knoll||44||00:48:36||03:31:46|
|5 – Reentrant||84||00:44:12||04:15:58|
|6 – Knoll||48||01:44:51||06:00:49|
|7 – Stream bend||59||00:25:19||06:26:08|
|8 – Dam (W side)||37||00:12:04||06:38:12|
|Checkpoint||Leg Rank||Leg Time||Cumulative Time|
|1 – Lochan, S point||55||00:41:34||00:41:34|
|2 – Reentrant||55||00:36:36||01:18:10|
|3 – Spur||19||00:27:31||01:45:41|
|4 – Summit||59||01:26:55||03:12:36|
|5 – Summit||50||00:58:20||04:10:56|
|6 – Gate||59||00:18:27||04:29:23|
|7 – Bridge||55||00:17:27||04:46:50|