by Jon Brooke
At the height of Sparta's power – between the 6th and 4th centuries BC – it was commonly accepted that one Spartan was worth several men of any other state, and so it also goes that one LAMM competitor is probably worth several competitors from any other event. Arriving at the LAMM event centre there were no hordes of pumped up weekend warriors eager to jump over some hay bales or slide in some mud, but a more mature crowd of real outdoor enthusiasts enjoying quiet pints and readying themselves for a two day wholly self-reliant trip into some of the most gnarly and remote terrain in Scotland.
Around the event centre friends from previous events have been meeting and talking and catching up. In the early evening the sun was shining and people were sat outside the marquee with a view of An Teallach, the 1060 metre summit that has given its name to this year’s event. At past events the shorter courses have very often had checkpoints on big summits which undoubtedly provides a bit of wow factor for less experienced competitors, though the longer courses usually make more use of spurs and re-entrants as control sites in order increase the technical difficulty of navigation and route planning. Whether An Teallach summit will have a control site remains to be seen as competitors don’t get their maps until just before the start tomorrow morning, but the event area this year is huge – around 30 km by 15 km with dozens of named summits and complex topography so there are a lot of potential sites for planner Andy Spencely to choose from.
Just to extend the warrior metaphor (probably slightly too far), the LAMM’s very own “last fighting tommy” Brian Layton is here again – the only competitor to have entered all of the twenty one events – wearing a brand new pair of Adidas Swoops I notice (just how many pairs does he have stockpiled?). Tomorrow he and partner Paul Davies will be joined by another 280 teams eager to “go over the top” (if you don’t like the warrior metaphors just be grateful I’m not resorting to political ones – although the LAMM is the most strong and stable mountain marathon I imagine that most people here are looking forward to a weekend away, not just from politics but from the outside world.
The year's Tee
Wilf's for a bite to eat