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The Connoisseurs Mountain Marathon

Planner's Report

Angela and Andy
Angela and Andy

For a number of years Martin has been proposing Ben Cruachan as an event centre for the LAMM - with the secret childhood hope that we would be able to race through the numerous network of tunnels that feed the hydro electric scheme. Alas that was not to be so. BUT the C/D course did manage an airy bus ride up the private road to the dam and the E/A enjoyed a midge free boat trip across Loch Etive to their start locations.

This years event proved harder to plan than previous events with some of the estates refusing access and others asking us to use a corridor across their land. This restricted the route choice available on all courses but hopefully competitors still enjoyed good days out on some of Scotland's wild hills. The overnight camp at Glen Kinglass once again proved a remote and beautiful location with the flattest camping yet. Unfortunately the midges surpassed anything I've ever experienced!

As usual a lot of time was spent reccying the area. I covered many miles with a 4 to 6 month old Jack Russell puppy in my back pack trying to suss out safe route options on and off Ben Cruachan and visiting the lower hills in the area to get a general feel for the terrain. My mobile phone was also lost in the area but unfortunately no competitors handed it in!

Our controller Andy Spenceley suggested the Elite and A start on the west shore of Loch Etive. This proved a challenge in itself gaining permission for a suitable start location and then planning a route along the hills to ensure the course was not too long. This meant a pretty much direct line to the head of Loch Etive was required to limit the distance. Both courses had a sting in the tail when at sea level in the Glen they had to literally climb over a munro summit to access Glen Kinglass. Ideally the climb would have been spread throughout the day but starting on the west side of the Loch was unusual and provided a novel journey through less trod hills. Apologies to the elite for the control on the side of Ben Sgulgaird I didn't envisage an out and back option and cringe at my bad planning.

Day 2 was very tough for the Elite I planned a traverse Ben Cruachan and realised it would be a long day but opted for the longer day with an interesting route rather than missing the traverse. The A course managed to summit one of the munro tops over a less travelled ridge, I recced this in snow and ice so may have over estimated it's difficulty whilst preying I didn't need crampons to reach the summit.

Martin worked his magic to enable the C and D classes to start at the Ben Cruachan damn, this helped to reduce the amount of climb over the courses and enable the D to summit a corbet and munro in quick succession. Unfortunately many competitors will have noticed the event centre below them whilst travelling over the munro - Beinn Eunaich en-route to the overnight camp. The second day was planned to keep away from the bigger hills heading to the east and then over the corbet Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh. The nature of the steep terrain in this area made planning quite challenging. Most of the hillsides around Glen Strae are very steep limiting the route choices and made it hard to plan a day where there was less than a 1000m of climb from Glen Kinglass to the finish.

The B and Score classes started near Victoria Bridge. The B (along with some of the score) were the only class who had the option of spending the entire day in the 'big mountains' of Stob Ghabhar and summitting the Stob Coir an Albannaich. The ridges and terrain made this a truely mountainous day with many of the drier streams enabling the competitors to cross streams and crags with relative ease. The B class was the only class who didn't have the option of climbing Ben Cruachan but most competitors would have climbed its neighbour Beinn Eunaich.

The score competition is always hard to plan for due to the different abilities in the class. Both Elite and D standard athletes compete in this class, so a course has to be planned which is challenging for all of the athletes. The main options on day one were to head north around Stob Ghabhar and across to Stob Coir an Albannaich or to head south over the lower hills above Glean Fuar, with the opportunity to cross over near Loch Dochard. The routes were contrasting with big hills to the north and lower heathery hills which was slower going in places to the south.

There was some cross over for the routes on day 2, the winning team chose the tough option of heading west over Ben Cruachan, much time was spent on scoring the controls to make this a tempting and viable option. The other options enabled teams to head to Glean Fruar area and then either head back west of Glen Strae to the finish or head east over Beinn Mhic Mhonaidh and if time allowed cover the far south of the map.

The winning times were about right for most courses on both days, but without the dry terrain could have been considerably longer. The elite day 2 was longer than usual and proved tough.

I'd like to thank the controller Andy Spenceley for putting me right (I blame him for the long Elite course!). Thanks to Ali Welsh and Brian Jackson for helping put out the controls. This year we were graced with good weather, which made the task so much easier. Thanks to all the people who helped collect the controls back in.

And finally thanks to Martin Stone for making the LAMM happen once again.

Angela Mudge

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Route planning above Loch Duich

The clouds over mid camp

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