LAMM 2003 - Planner's Comments
trust you all enjoyed the physical and technical
challenge of the courses in that strange,
masochistic, Mountain Marathon sort of way.
What ever its attraction, the LAMM draws competitors
back year after year. This is due to Martin
and his team of helpers who work tirelessly
to ensure its success. My thanks to them.
Planner has two major concerns during the
course of a competition weekend: Vandalism/misplacement
of controls and whether or not the courses
are too long/short. I personally have a
third: Will it be misty, hopefully. Why
this latter concern? I tend to plan it as
a long navigational race rather than a tough
fell race. Therefore low clagg enhances
the need for good navigational skills developed
to a high level, if you are to be successful
on the weekend. It is rather pleasant to
have the sun out at the campsite though!
there was no vandalism, misplacement of
controls or mist! However, there was the
reversal of control codes 103 (knoll, by
lochan) and 124 (dry lochan) This caused
the better teams a delay of perhaps ten
seconds (long enough to curse the planner/controller)
and perhaps fifteen minutes to the middle
order and tail enders. The control sites
were quite unique and easily identifiable.
If you are confident that you are at the
feature, stick your 'dibber' in! Incidentally,
I heard it said that someone did not punch
one of these controls because they feared
disqualification, although there was no
evidence for this. The beauty of SportIdent
is that you can 'dib' every control you
visit, just as long as you visit the correct
ones for your course in order. The software
also allowed our 'Guru' to change the controls
around so that on the splits, they were
correct. Nevertheless, our checking system
should have picked up the discrepancy. It
did not, and so my apologies for this.
were planned to give potential winning times
of 12, 11, and 10 hours for E, A and B respectively.
It is much more difficult with C and D because
there is a real uncertainty as to the ability
of those who enter. However, somewhere around
9hours for the C and 8 hours for the D was
intended. When assessing whether these goals
have been achieved one has to look at the
total of the best split times for each leg
in any one class. The breakdown is: E 12-09
A 10-54 B 9-39 C 8-28 D 6-35
This can be deceptive because, as on Elite
Day 1, a team can go off like a bat out
of hell producing a very quick set of early
splits which are unrealistic as a representation
of what could be maintained. Saying that,
these all appear pretty good except for
the D, where some individuals were rather
I am inclined to think that Elite day 2
was a bit long. Bear in mind that times
on day one would have been quicker if it
had been cooler, but slower in the event
of bad weather. We did enquire about using
the chairlift but it was not forthcoming
nor viable really, just for 100m or so of
gain. (Incidentally, during feedback, a
suggestion was made that we sent the Elite
competitors up in the chair lift only for
them to find that their first control was
back down across the valley and up a hill
opposite! What a superbly evil idea Mr.
Keith, I shall remember that one!)
course - What determines a novice? I have
assumed that it is a team who are unfit,
are new to competition and/or lightweight
travel in the mountains. I feel quite strongly
that Mountain Marathons are not the place
to learn basic navigation skills and so
presume people are reasonably competent.
I heard nothing amiss and so hope you all
went where you intended and had good, if
long, days out. That suspension bridge was
certainly worth a visit.
The distance of the overnight camp from
the event centre ensured that a direct route
was the only real option but this did not
preclude the use of a number of interesting
control sites. You also had two legs with
good route choice.
D course, although perhaps short, also had
two good route choice legs on day one.
and Novice course - E and A competitors
should get their maps out at this stage
and see if they can honestly say they would
not have made the same mistake ! I trust
The first control on B,C and Novice courses
was a 'New Plantation corner' at 083722
(Their start was at 088723 approx) I took
a degree of sadistic pleasure in seeing
the thought processes at work. 'New Plantation'
= Trees. Everyone obviously looked up, scanned
the near horizon and saw the only trees
in sight at 087717. Not only are these trees
nearly 80 degrees in the wrong direction,
but it is plain to see that they are mature,
35ft high specimens! A careful study of
the map will also show that the new plantation
will be hidden behind a vague, but discernible
ridge/spur, running roughly SSE. I only
saw about ten out of some 350 teams, go
in the right direction.
Due to planning constraints, I had very
few options to get you past the Tulaichean
massif, other than up it! The control sites
were fair, but not really satisfying. .
. . . . except that plantation.
2 A, B, C, and D - You just knew you had
to go up, didn't you ! Unfortunately visibility
appeared good on the way to your prospective
first controls. I had hoped however, that
as you all piled over the col , there would
be some degree of pandemonium at least,
with teams going too quickly down the slope
with no real plan of action and therefore
finding the wrong control. There were actually
four carefully selected control sites all
within about 350m of each other.
is a general opinion, with which I tend
to agree, that the B course has the highest
concentration of mountain-happy, gnarly
old goats who can travel at both a reasonable
speed in the hills, and in the right direction.
However, an incident was relayed to me via
Angela the Controller, certainly not a gnarly
old goat herself, but certainly quicker
than almost all the competitors. It appears
that a team in either B or C appeared at
the top of the slope to the South of the
knoll, 103 (124!) at Lochan Uaine (047796),
took one look and decided a descent of this
slope was not for them. They then descended
the Munro and contoured in from the side.
what of that exhausted feeling competitors
had at the end of day 1 ? I saw many teams
finish and most looked very tired or worse.
I also saw three of the first four Elite
teams finish. They looked completely trashed,
several not moving from the finish control
for twenty minutes. Rest assured they suffer
at least as much as the rest of us, if not
- This is about as good as it gets really.
I've camped in some real grot in the past
on MM's. It was good to see competitors
making use of the deep water for a swim.
I can't help thinking my cup of tea was
a little darker by the end of the evening.
I attempted to make myself readily available
to answer any queries or for general discussion.
I am grateful to the competitor who went
away convinced that he'd visited a control,
only to return later and report that he
was mistaken. Thank you.
hope those of you who entered this year
for the first time, whether or not you completed
your course, will return next year. You
are now part of a rather strange family,
some of whom you will see every year, at
the LAMM and elsewhere. I hope you took
the opportunity to talk to others, learn
about kit, training, eating etc or just
had a good natter. The LAMM can be very
social. Just a word of warning. The Elite
competitors are Elite, not elitist, and
like to chat on occasion too. You need to
chose you moment however. Generally they
will be sleeping for some time before doing
much apart from eating. Unless you want
to be shown a novel use for a compass, best
wait for them to emerge! Squatting by them
in the latrine is probably not a good time.
have several memories which spring to mind:
The number of competitors carrying antlers,
large and small, over the finish line on
day two. There were at least two complete
skulls, jawbones and assorted ivory littering
the outside of the Marquee. I am sure Customs
and Exercise (!) will be paying Martin a
most pleasing memory is of the loud, spontaneous
applause when the later Elite competitors
finished, running through the campsite on
day one. That surely mirrors the true spirit
of the LAMM and of hard competition in the
Next year, I shall be suffering with the
best of you (well, perhaps not the very
best). Until then, I look forward to locking
horns with some of you in the A (Bowfell)
class in the Saunders shortly.