The 2014 OMM promised to be a memorable event and that it was but perhaps not for all the expected or right reasons. This year was the first year being run by new organisers so I think its natural to expect some changes and teething problems and the OMM is a huge event with an even bigger reputation to uphold so big shoes to fill. The event centre was at Clennell hall near Alwinton in Northumberland – a beautiful setting and was well run by an army of super friendly staff and volunteers. The area was fantastic and covered a variety of challenging terrain from runnable forest tracks to near impassable tracts of huge tussocks and bogs, beautiful if not massive hills but there were plenty of them and the climbs and decents were steep and sapping.
This was my first OMM long score (the longest of the 3 score classes on offer) so were expecting a challenging couple of days with hard route planning and a lot of route choices to make and on this front we weren’t disappointed. Possibly the course offered too much in the woods, which lacked a mountain marathon feel with controls placed right on easy to navigate tracks, but there was also plenty to go at in the surrounding hills and valleys so overall I thought the course was well planned and enjoyable. The weather was typical OMM weather with frequent showers and very strong winds, which made for a challenging day but also an interesting overnight camp where the main challenge was stopping the tent disappearing out to sea and trying to catch a little sleep through the noise of what sounded like a jet hovering overhead all night!
So far so classic OMM BUT (and I hate to criticize as I appreciate how hard it is to put on an event of this scale and standing) there were a number small niggles that didn’t go down too well (no hot drink at the end, not enough portaloos at the overnight etc) and a major issue with the map. Now this is a navigational event and so the most critical thing to get right is the map but this was woefully inadequate, it was only laminated on one side so started to disintegrate pretty much immediately. Yes we got a plastic bag to put it in but the bag was a quarter of the size of the map so we kept having to get it out of the bag where it fell apart a little more each time. The quality of the printing was comical– they had used a 1:25000 scale shrunk down to 1:40000 so the detail was almost impossible to read, features like crags you couldn’t see at all and the contours were barely visible particularly in wooded areas so at times the navigation felt a little like guess work. This was acknowledged so I’m sure will be put right next year. The other big disappointment for the, admittedly small numbers of, ladies was for the first time in 42 years female teams were no longer recognized in the prizes, which I’m not going to dwell on here, but needless to say we felt was a little demeaning of our efforts. Nonetheless I was delighted with coming in first female team and 33rd overall in long score (even though it counted for nowt). I hope the organisers have a rethink about this one for next year but I wont hold my breath…..
Long score results: 1st overall Kenny Leitch and keith masson 1166 points, 1st ladies team and 33rd overall Sarah fuller and Kate Boobyer 860 points. 144 teams started, 142 finished.