Report from sarah fuller:
The marmot is a relatively new arrival on the mountain marathon scene with this year being only the second running of the event. There is 12 hour or 24 hour score courses on offer. All the checkpoints are worth 10 points so the strategy is a little different to usual score events (where you have different checkpoints worth different values) so route planning was tough. This years event was in the lowther hills in the southern uplands, I’d never been there before and what a fantastic discovery. Very like the howgills but without the people and totally unspoilt apart from some hideous towers on top of the highest point and the nutters running around with maps of course!
For once I had my sensible hat on, I was still pretty fatigued and had been suffering with a cold in the week before the race so was leaning towards doing the shorter race (if 12 hours can ever be deemed short!). The race format is such that you can decide on the day and even after you start which length you do. I planned a route that I felt was a good 12 circuit but passed back through the even centre this gave me the option of stopping at 12 or refuelling and heading back out for the second half. Given the event centre was in the middle of the map and a figure of 8 course was a good choice this made sense whichever course you did.
We were set off at midday in glorious sunshine and immediately teams scattered in all directions. Most people ran in pairs but solo entries were accepted from experienced runners. Since I failed to find anyone mad enough to join me I was Billy no mates for the weekend which was a little terrifying but once into the swing of it I really enjoyed the isolation. I rarely saw other teams as it was such a huge area but when I did everyone stopped for a quick chat and comparison of strategy!
Thankfully my navigation was ok and I didn’t have any major dramas, a few minor blips where I came in too low or high to a feature but mostly got it right. I think my route choice was pretty good and I was pleased how I judged it apart from the last 2 checkpoints where I hit some pretty unpleasant terrain (huge ravine full of monster bracken that took half an hour to get into and escape from and it was getting dark!) and they took a lot longer than I thought so had to abandon my stretch target of two extra controls on the other loop South of the event centre.
The route was amazing but the hills were brutal and relentless despite their relatively modest size. I tried to plan a loop where I got the worst climbs done early on and a bit more runnable terrain later. After 4 hours I was exhausted but came good again and actually felt better in the second 6 hours! The whole time I was running I was still debating 12 vs 24, something in my brain tells me I should always do the longer option and I felt like a wimp considering the short option at all! I knew it was the right choice but it didn’t stop me beating myself up. after about 8 hours I fell and sprained my ankle it was a painful one and for a few minutes I thought my race was over and I’d have to call the cavalry but after sitting for a bit and tentatively walking for a while I felt I could get back under my own steam albeit with no further running but that did cement the decision to stop at 12 hours.
I arrived back at the finish around 11:30 so only about an hour in the dark (where I also encountered the first cows of the day which scared the life out of me!), the weather was still good and I almost went back out again for more as was enjoying myself so much. But common sense prevailed and I declared my finish and grabbed my finishers meal with the other 12 hour competitors.
Total surprise the next morning when shane (the organiser) told me to not be so disappointed at not going out the full time as I’d won the 12 hour ladies trophy and came 4th overall! I thought I’d done ok but I hadn’t been pushing myself so was really chuffed with the result. There were only 17 teams in the 12 hour (and only 3 ladies entries!) and not many more in the longer race but heck I’ll take that! Results are here: http://www.marmot24.com/results/2015-results/
I can’t recommend this race enough it’s a true mountain adventure one of the best days on the hill I’ve had in a long time. I hope it continues to grow and attract more entrants as sadly it can’t sustain itself on so few but I’m glad I was part of it this year. Come on what you waiting for ?!