Friday Night


The LAMM makes a welcome return visit to Strathcarron at the head of Loch Carron after a gap of 10 years. Will the weather be more forgiving on Day 1 when there were wintry conditions on the high ground?

As competitors arrive at the assembly area on Friday conditions could not be better. The clouds are melting away and the sun beats down on the drying meadow, the tops are out and the breeze is keeping the midges in.

All the main elements are in place. The controls have been sited out on the hills. The big white marquee is in the far corner of the field, 15 toilets and 8 gents urinals nearby and the helpers are putting the finishing touches to the preparations. Someone has to stuff all those car stickers into the  plastic oversocks.

The first competitor arrives wheeling his Brompton bike across the field. Paniers on bike, rucksack on back John Stott has lost his partner and arrived by train from London. No worries. Organiser Martin Stone has him fixed up with a partnerless Dutchman within minutes. If the mountain marathon and sports timing business hits hard times then he can always run a dating agency.

But what is special this year? Well it is the 20th anniversary of the LAMM and the first after a fallow year last year. Wilf’s have baked an enormous cake which is on display in registration. When will we be allowed to eat it? Rumour has it that this will be at the prizegiving and funds might stretch to some fizzy wine.

On a similar subject a recent innovation introduced at the Loch Fyne event is soon in full swing after the barrels have been tapped by assembly field supremo Dave Johnstone. Dave does not drink beer so he asked for volunteers to taste it before it could be classed as  fit fuel for mountain marathoners. The beer is from Plockton Brewery so not many beer miles have been involved. To help competitors know where the brewery is located on their getting lost on the hills then the pump clip helpfully gives the precise location as 57°20´N and 005°39´W. However, they had better not use GPS devices as the use of these are banned for navigation on the race. Airbus pilot Eddie Speak doubles as barman and pulls the pints sitting down, rather like Captain Boycott in the famous Yorkshire Airlines sketch.

20 years hey? Nobody seems to have done all 20 but Wilf’s have been providing the catering since the very first one in 1994 Charlotte has been to almost every LAMM. Wilf is here this year with Charlotte and their hard working team. Wilf’s pulled out of mobile catering a few years ago to concentrate on their cafe in Staveley and this is the only event in a field assignment they now do. We are privileged to have them here serving the legendary chilli and chocolate brownies (not in the same container).

Another new thing this year is the sight of a man dragging a white blanket across the field and then proceeding to clean it by using small tweezers to pick little black objects off and into a tiny glass tube. Now this is eccentric behaviour even by mountain marathon standards. On being asked about this Stephen Martin explains that he is gathering ticks for a research project being run by Salford University. They will test the ticks for Lyme’s disease as part of a programme to map the spread of the disease within the UK. Stephen has been unfortunate to get Lyme’s disease from a tick bite and knows how serious the consequences of tick bites can be. He will be taking his blanket to the midway camp and one of the starts too.

Brian Jackson

Route planning above Loch Duich

The clouds over mid camp

Racing together - the spirit of the event

Lowe Alpine Mourne Mountain Marathon