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The Connoisseurs Mountain Marathon


Elite course winners Alec Keith and Kenny RiddleSunday’s rain, low cloud and extremely rocky terrain again tested competitors’ navigational and physical abilities. Over the two days the attrition rate was such that no mixed, female or veteran teams managed to complete the Elite course before the prize giving. Alec Keith and Kenny Riddle, the overnight leaders, rose to the challenge to win the LAMM trophy, finishing the Elite course in an overall time of 12:09:35.

The mid camp at Glencoul was one of the most scenic ever used for a LAMM, although space for pitching a tent was at a premium. Those not already in their sleeping bags had a chance to see an otter swimming in the bay at 10.30pm. However, not everyone had a peaceful night. One person who didn’t bother to put on his shoes when stepping outside for a night-time pee, ended his LAMM prematurely by getting a tent peg through his foot.

A pair who chose an idyllic campsite on a tiny tidal island, woke at 1am to find that they were below the high tide mark! Rumour has it they moved the tent temporarily then, to save face, moved it back as the tide ebbed. The gusty overnight winds blowing off the sea also played havoc with some of the more flimsy tents.

The chasing start was on the beach and began at 6am, with all teams away by 7.30am. But most had been awake long before that, thanks to a stirring tune on the bagpipes. The ‘walking wounded’ and those retiring walked out in a group to the nearest point on the road where they were met by a bus. However, that took over 3 hours walking and a 500m climb, including the ascent of a precipitous gully.

The Elite, A and B courses had controls in the hills to the east of Glen Coul, before having to go over or round Beinn Uidhe (740m) on their way back to Inchnadamph. The C, D and Novice courses took a more direct line south, with loops that took them over Glas Bheinn (778m). A highlight of the D and Novice courses was a control at the foot of Britain’s highest waterfall. The downside was that the next control was way above it.

Among the leaders there were some hotly contested races into the finish. Other less switched on teams put away their maps and their brains and missed the final control, giving themselves an uphill track run back to it.

At the prize giving, Martin Stone thanked everyone for coming to the most northerly venue ever for the LAMM. The Assynt area provided classic terrain for the “connoisseurs’ mountain marathon”.

He thanked the planner, Andy Spenceley, the controller, Angela Mudge, all the marshalls, Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team (a long way from home base!), the estates and stalker, and the doctors among the competitors, who had stitched up quite a few people. The rockiness of the terrain resulted in more minor injuries than normal. Finally, he thanked Lowe Alpine for their sponsorship, now stretching over 13 years.

The teams were in a barren looking world of lochs and rocks each day, but the marshalls had a different view of the area. Martin explained how the organising team reached and set up the mid camp – by chartering a boat. The 25-ton Statesman was used to sail up Loch Glencoul from Kylesku and the skipper, Willie Wilson, also provided a little boat to ferry the heavy load of gear to the shore.

Different people will have differing memories of the past two days: caves and clouds, waterfalls and river crossings, endless slippery rocks, irritating peat hags and maybe even a miniature of whisky to aid sleep at the mid camp. Now almost everyone is off the hills and they have been left to the myriad of frogs that were noticed by those going more slowly.

Felicity Martin

Route planning above Loch Duich

The clouds over mid camp

Racing together - the spirit of the event

Lowe Alpine Mourne Mountain Marathon