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The Connoisseurs Mountain Marathon

Winners Comments

Once again the top teams on each course have given us their thoughts about the day – thanks! Not sure if they give away any top tips, but here’s your chance to see how they’ve been thinking for the last 8 hours and many kilometres.

The Elite course

Its never easy being the 1st pair off in the chasing start, you end up spending a lot of time looking over your shoulder, despite our 13 minute lead. We spent a pleasant time running the hills alone, only bumping into another pair (A class) at our final control. Our only other human contact was seeing Jon Brooke taking pics on the first ridge run. Today Steve was definitely the stronger runner and his navigation was superb (Morgz wrote this bit obviously – ed), I just had to console myself with the knowledge that my rucsac was a wee bit heavier!

Even when we crossed the line we did not know that we had won, we had to ask! This is a great result for both of us, as we have never managed to win this event before. On the whole the running was rough, but much more runnable on Day 2. I’m afraid that the race still isn’t over for us though, we still have to catch the ferry back to Oban!

Steve & Morgz

The A course

We found each other on the web, meeting each other only at 4pm on Friday ¾ so winning LAMM ‘A’ feel like quite an achievement! On the last ferry from Oban, we got to know each other over a pint and finally got to bed at 1am to catch only a few hours sleep before the ‘lovely’ bagpipes awoke the dreamers.

Day One was a good mix of pacey running and some circuitous navigation on the tricky southern part. We arrived at the finish surprised to find we were in first place, a rare bonus, but it was only to be for a couple of hours as we were pipped into second by a mere MINUTE AND A HALF!!

After an exquisite Korean Noodle carbo overload and tossing and turning in a borrowed tent, we rolled up at the start with a minute to spare. “Let us at them”, we shouted as we sped off. Navigation better honed than yesterday’s Dubrovnik horror show, disappearing into the clouds we soon seemed to be the only people on the hill. Our gander (sic) was slowed only by chafed groins, sprained ankles and managing to hurtle past the last control! Back-tracking with lots of wild paranoia that we were about to be overtaken at any moment – “I can hear them coming!!!!!”, we arrived at the finish to the awesome feeling that comes from winning the LAMM finally – yee hoo!

Chad Harrison and Jonathan Rabagliati

The B course

We started the day 30 mins down on the leaders. Fortunately for us, the leaders made a navigation error at checkpoint 2. Despite this they still had plenty of running in them and we swung leads the whole day. We all suffered between checkpoint 4 and 5, a real man test!!!!

From then on some good ridge running eased the legs. Checkpoint 7 at the stream junction proved hard to find and the early leaders regained the advantage until checkpoint 10. From there to the finish we began to pull away and the slide over the stile saw us 200m ahead until we crossed the finish. Thanks for making the finish uphill!!

Great race see you next year for the A.

Richard Lawes and Roger Knox

The C course

If leading our class after the first day wasn't strange enough to us, then being first off on the chasing start was a completely new experience - knowing there are over 120 teams behind you certainly helps to focus the mind.

The first climb was tussocky but we were soon at the right height and contoured across the hillside quite quickly, only to spend a short while searching for the first control among the many streams in that area, thinking that the team behind us were going to appear at any second. With control two coming soon after we then settled down to concentrate on the job in hand, with some nice undulating ridge running leading us on. Rather than be distracted by the thought of teams catching us we decided not to look back for the rest of the day so we could keep our mind on the route ahead.

From looking at the Day 2 split times, control two to three looks to have been a crucial leg for us, as the choice of a slightly descending traverse on steep and rocky ground, rather than a sharp climb and descent, seems to have gained us 5 minutes on the rest of the field. More tussock running was to follow, but we seemed to be getting used to the physical nature of the ground and caught up with some of the main field teams who had started early.

We were then on the long climb up Dun da Ghaoithe, keeping to the crest of the ridge where the ground was easier to cover, and continued to force the pace as it seemed we were still managing to maintain our lead from Day 1. Thankfully, for us, the mist on the higher ground continued to hold so we were sure the teams behind were having the same fun navigating as us. A short steep descent followed, then more tussocks, leading to the final short climb and onto the last few controls. Then the end was nearly in sight and we headed for home, only knowing for certain that we had won when we crossed the line and asked the marshalls!

This will certainly remain a very memorable LAMM for a long time to come - a bit of adventure as always, expertly organised, superb location, good challenging courses, and the unbelievable achievement of having won the C class. It will be nice to come back and see more of Mull sometime at a slightly more leisurely pace.

Toby Miles & Phil Carpenter

The D course

What an adventure, the ferry and train ride to the campsite by the castle on the Isle of Mull, this was going to be a really memorable LAMM no matter what place we came in.

During Day 1 we set off early and during the entire run we only saw one other (Novice) team near the end. So we had the full wilderness experience with lots of deer included. Our run was fairly clean but we had to relocate a couple of times in the dense mist losing a few minutes each time. However, the last up, down, up, down, leg over the mountains drained what energy we had left and we slowed dramatically. We ended up at the wrong waterfall and lost 10 minutes and the trudge to the excellent mid-camp through the tussock was totally exhausting. We camped among the bluebells and enjoyed a dry evening.

We started day 2 in 9 th place 23 minutes behind the leaders. With 10 groups all within 25 minutes this was going to be head to head racing at its best. Our hopes of a shorter course were dashed when we found out that today’s course was 19km long and had the biggest climb of the 2 days to a col at 700m. At checkpoint one, 7 teams all punched within a few seconds of each other. This was followed by brilliant high ridge running and team positions were continuously changing. The huge climb up to the 700m col was the crux of the day with the teams taking the spur meeting up with the teams who had climbed the face. From here to the finish it was fast and furious downhill racing with 4 controls on the way. We were leading as we approached control 4 but over shot and lost 3 places. We gained 2 of them back at control 5. It was neck and neck with the leading team as we punched the final control but we were unable to match their pace on the final run-in. So after around 11 hours of racing we lost by seconds. But at download the lead team had not visited control 4 and were disqualified, such is the excitement of head to head racing, teams often cut corners due to the increased pressure and sometimes this can have a major impact on the race outcome. The other team were making up their map while running and failed to mark control 4.

We thoroughly enjoyed the whole adventure, which has been fantastically organised and very challenging. The only downside is we will now have to move up to the C class!

Stephen and Tim Martin

Novice course

My friend Emma said: ”Heh! Tammy & I are doing the LAMM next month”. “What’s the Lamb?” I replied. She described it to Richard as a bit of a nice orienteering run in the mountains. “Lets do it!” I said to Richard and he looked at me with a frown and asked me if I was sure. So, training began with a heavy rucksack twenty times up and down the stairs, although my intentions of doing that every morning wore a little thin.

The first day was tough with a climb early on and I was feeling a bit ratty about not being able to keep up. Then I got stuck into it, getting involved in the navigating decisions. It’s a great idea to do your first Novice with someone far better at navigating. It’s a great way to learn navigating skills, what to bring and what not to bring. Certainly I never expected to be hot all the way round!. The second day I was really up for it and pushed all the way. What a high! The whole experience is great including the atmosphere at the camps. Now I’m looking forward to a free Wilfs meal, I’ve had their chilli before so I’m REALLY looking forward to that. - Corinne.

The course was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be, but I’m looking forward to trying a C or D course next year! Most of the legs on the first day had some interesting route decisions, and the high parts of the course were a real navigational challenge in the cloud. We went from Lochan to Lochan for bits of it, identifying them by shape. The second day the navigation was easier, but the big climb in the middle was a nightmare. Watching the leaders on the C course disappear ahead of us into the cloud was a sobering experience. Constantly passing and being passed by the overnight leaders on our course made it all the more exciting, and kept us pushing to our limits. Love that chasing start! Thanks to all the organisers for putting on a fantastic event. We’ll both be back next year! - Richard.

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Route planning above Loch Duich

The clouds over mid camp

Racing together - the spirit of the event