at the LAMM were woken this morning at 5 a.m. in the traditional
way – with the sound of bagpipes, played by Niall Watson,
one of the regular marshals. For details of the tunes, click
here. (Niall promises some more tunes for tomorrow, just for
By 6:30 the first teams had started to gather outside the event marquee for the ‘start’ but then a fleet of coaches turned up and they were ushered on board to be taken to the actual starts, which for the Elite, A and B classes was situated in the north west of Mull near the hamlet of Knock, to the north of the biggest hill on the island, Ben More - which would feature on the elite course with a checkpoint on a col at 800m, just below the 966m summit. The other courses also headed south on broadly parallel routes to the Elite course, but with significantly less climb involved.
The C, D and Novice classes had a different start, around 9 km southeast of the E, A, B start and half way along the A849 (but think single track road with passing places) which bisects the island from East to West. From here those courses also ran broadly in parallel with the ones from the other start, which all passed nearby. However there were relatively few common controls so competitors on different courses would often see each other but rarely share the same optimal route.
The only common control on all the courses except the Novice (bar the final one near the overnight camp) was situated at Moy castle at Loch Buie, a fantastic old tower standing right by the shore and surrounded by trees and irises. From here, the competitors would enter a very technical area of terrain known among the organisers as “the donut” (because the courses formed kind of a ring with Loch Uisg as the hole in the middle).
After that there was just the matter of a few kilometres and a few hundred meters more climbing before descending again to the overnight camp situated about 3 km northeast of the C, D, N start.
As mentioned in the previous report, distance and climb were not the only important factors in the makeup of each course – there were also the tussocks! – and reports back from competitors suggested that it was extremely slow going in places, lumpy, and very wet underfoot. Also the navigation proved tricky for some, which was not helped by the fact that most courses were very misty in most places above a few hundred feet altitude (or even less at times) for most of the day. What this all added up to was a long hard slog for almost everyone.
Having spoken with a couple of the Elite teams we have the story of that race, which essentially was between two teams, Ifor Powel and John Hunt (winners of the LAMM two years ago) and Morgan Donnelly and Steve Birkinshaw (winners of the KIMM two years ago). Start times are allotted at random and by coincidence Morgan and Steve started five minutes after Ifor and John, which was to prove lucky for Morgan and Steve. The pair of them had completed Bob Graham rounds two weeks ago and weren’t sure how well they had recovered. Shortly after the start, Steve began to fear the answer was… not. He had what he described as a ‘rough patch’ from the second checkpoint, and as the lead navigator that was bad news. But because they could see Ifor and John ahead they decided to try to stay with them and rely on the fact that they would navigate well until Steve recovered.
The plan worked as Morgan and Steve followed Ifor and John through the donut, when Steve started to recover. Then he decided on a different route choice on a long section leading into the overnight camp. Although he thought Ifor and John were running faster, Steves route was better and they finished 12 minutes ahead of the other pair. With the next team a further 20 minutes down it now looks like a fight between these two for victory tomorrow, though in a first for the LAMM (and possibly any mountain marathon) the normal chasing start for the lead teams is being extend to one and a half hours, so six Elite teams will start in numbered vests at time intervals corresponding to their positions at the end of today.
There are also chasing starts in the other classes, with remarkably, 48 teams involved in the C class.
The leaders in the other classes are:
A – Stephen Watts and Geoff Pettengell (by one and a half minutes) B – Peo Halvarsson and Joakim Halvarsson (with a 29 minute lead) C – Toby Miles and Phil Carpenter (nearly nine minutes clear)
D – Tom Conlon and Derek Conerney (6 and a half minutes)
N – Shane and Liz Drinkwater (37 minutes)
Full results and checkpoint times
bring on the piper…