From well before
the control sites were visited and tagged in early May to the collection
of the kites and SI boxes everything about the event went very smoothly
and according to plan - give or take the odd hiccough.
For the recce
we had the last 3 days of the hot cloudless days on the hills before
the rains came and stayed. Martin joined the four of us for this
and sorted out the layout of the event field and the mid camp. The
area's potential was obvious and it looked stunning in the May sunshine.
Andy had already planned the Elite to D courses and these were not
significantly changed. More work was needed on the Score in finalising
which start we would use, the selection of controls and points loading.
With Andy and
Angela making up the four of us we started putting out the 70 controls
on the Sunday before the event, and all but the penultimate controls
were in place by Wednesday evening - about 14 man-days work between
us. The only late change that Andy made was to the D course. Following
Angela's report on the level of water one of the streams he diverted
the early part of the Day 1 course so that it left the forest by
the path on the East boundary and not the South. Although reducing
the winning time by 20 mins or so this probably improved the course
whilst eliminating a potentially fierce river crossing. More about
the event were wet underfoot in places but otherwise both days were
ideal for running, with good visibility aiding the navigation and
providing stunning views. Winning times were in line with what were
expected in these conditions and Andy's courses provided plenty
of route choice on most legs.
Score class is particularly difficult at the LAMM bearing in mind
the scale and ruggedness of the terrain and fact that the mid camp
is almost always going to be a long way from the Day 1 start, whichever
start is chosen. Some have asked for a shorter Score time limit
but that would make it very difficult for the slower teams to reach
the midcamp with any points at all! A look at Route Gadget shows
how well the Score worked for the top level teams. They covered
a remarkable amount of ground and had plenty of options - truly
elite performances. Last year many of the slower competitors struggled
to finish in time, particularly on Day 1. This year offered them
more options and a good chance of finishing without penalties, and
the results bear this out.
We heard a report
of a team in the chasing start running without their numbers on
display. Whether this was forgetfulness, a chaotic life style or
plain naughtiness it is against the rules and spirit of the event
and the organiser would have been justified in disqualifying them.
innovation of putting closing times on controls seemed to work very
well. It helped Dave plan the great control gathering exercise.
However, it is always worrying when teams come in hours after the
course closing time. The last team to finish on Day 2 were also
in last by a long time on Day 1. It would have helped them and everyone
else if they had moved down a class or to the Score on Day 2.
The night after
the event the rain came again so we failed to achieve the plan of
retrieving all of the controls by Monday evening. Although most
controls were accessible the level of the rivers had risen alarmingly
and we had to wait until Tuesday to get the final two controls.
By then the waters had receded almost as quickly as they had risen.
There might have been more to collect if Matt had not crossed one
river with it up to his waist. All of this made us realise just
how lucky we had been at the weekend. Had we had conditions like
that for the competition there would have been major difficulties
to say the least. However, the LAMM is a very nimble organisation
with flexible hardworking helpers, and competitors who are familiar
with difficult conditions in the mountains so it should be capable
of making radical last minute changes to courses.
- All of those
who helped with control collection; without this assistance we
would struggle to wrap everything up until the end of the week
after the event.
- Martin, who
also extends to the planning and controlling team the usual talents
of charm and diplomacy which he brings to bear on land owners,
ghillies and local interests.
- Our fellow
controller Angela. Her ability to cover enormous areas of the
highest ground is greatly appreciated by the two over 60s (or
- Andy for
his excellent courses which made the controlling job easy. One
of Andy's great strengths is his knowledge of the Scottish hills.
This means he has a working knowledge of any area well before
he is immersed in the planning. Perhaps after all there is some
practical benefit to having completed the Munros, Corbetts and
Grahams. To use Andy's own words when writing about the area on
the website, he is a "real hard core hill bagger".
Brian Jackson and Dave Coustick