Report from Sarah Fuller.
6pm Saturday evening and whilst most normal people are preparing to go out I’m lying in a space in which a 5 year old would struggle to fit, in the corner of a field in the Brecon Beacons that is slowly but surely turning into a paddy field. The rain is hammering down and the wind is periodically flattening the tent and threatening to rip it to pieces. Im cooking our ‘meal’ in a tiny pan balanced over a solid fuel block and trying to stop the thing blowing away completely. We are dining on pot noodles and copious quantities of crips and tea, it is the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. We are trapped in this tiny space for the next 12 hours, it is too wet and windy to go out and there is nothing to do but hold a post mortem of the day, chat and try and sleep – all of which are hard over the noise of the wind. It is the only night of the year you really don’t want an extra hour in bed! We are at the overnight camp of the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) and have run for 6 hours over a fair few hills, through huge bogs, enourmous tussocks, swollen rivers and sodden ground to get here The weather has been atrocious but its been a really enjoyable day out Having not done a mountain marathon so far this year, our usual cunning route choice radar was a little rusty but our nav was ok and we felt we were moving strongly. Pouring over the maps in the evening we noticed several route options that we didn’t see during the day that would have saved us a bit of effort and gained a few more points but that’s the way it goes with score classes (I was running the medium score class with Kate Boobyer – the middle of the 3 score classes on offer at the OMM, score format means you try and get as many points as you can in a set time rather than complete a set route in the fastest time), and us tortoises have in the past got the better of many hares with cunning route choices! Despite our slightly headless chicken approach, at overnight we were 40th overall and 2nd ladies – happy with that. The second day began much as the first had finished (at least our second day did begin – there were many tales of competitors giving up after their tents were blown/ washed away in the night including one pair who spent a considerable amount of the night hiding in a portaloo!) – with a large amount of wind and rain and some delicate cooking manouvers.
The organisers decided to run bad weather courses for day 2 so we had 4 hours rather than 5 on the hill. The terrain on day 2 was even worse with slow progress over miles of waterlogged tussocks and bogs into strong winds – nice. It was another day of difficult route choices and we decided to go for broke and committed to a line that was going to push the 4 hours to the max, it was a big risk and we gambled on the terrain improving to more runnable ground. At the furthest out point of our chosen route we overshot a checkpoint in the mist on a featureless hillside and spent a frantic 10 -15 minutes trying to relocate ourselves and it. We thought at this point our race was over, there was no way we would get back in time now but what the hell we may as well try. We pushed like mad for the last 1.5 hours running over some hideous terrain and pushing ourselves to the limit, we had to abandon the thoughts of getting the last checkpoint we were planning to and run straight to the finish (missing out on a precious 15 points frustratingly only minutes off our line!), sprinting past lots of teams and sliding and falling down the last mudslide decent back to the track leading to the finish. We were 9 seconds late – that cost us 2 points but it could have been a lot worse and a couple of hours ago we thought we had lost the lot! It wasn’t enough to catch the first ladies even with the checkpoint we had to miss – we pulled 5 points back on them from the Saturday and were 1st ladies on the second day but overall had to settle for second. I say settle but we were chuffed to bits and didn’t expect to win – yes our route choice and nav. wasn’t as sharp as it could be but we took risks and pushed hard both days and most importantly enjoyed every minute (despite the weather!).
Final position – 38th in medium score class and 2nd ladies – 202 teams started. Far more impressively than our effort – local Otley Athlete Heather Dawe was 1st ladies in the Elite – the hardest of the 4 linear courses.