Martin's Roundup

IT'S BEEN THREE LONG YEARS
It's been 3 long years since the last LAMM and it has been lovely to see so many old friends of the event back at the LAMM this year. I'm sorry it's been such a long time - the years have passed very quickly. I think I had forgotten what a life enhancing experience LAMM week is, working with such a great team of people and such wonderful participants. Judging by the feedback so far, I didn't realise how important an annual LAMM fix was to so many and how much folk had been missing the event. Thank you very much for supporting the event.

LIFECYCLE OF A LAMM ORGANISER
You may know that our main business is SPORTident Timing and SiEntries. These are all consuming things in themselves. As I get older, it is not easy to find the time to prepare properly for the LAMM and do it justice. Organising the 21st LAMM again after a 3 year break has been a journey through the whole gamut of emotions - feeling optimistic in November and December, fearful and stressed in February, March and April, purposeful and positive in May, incredibly relieved, fulfilled, rewarded and grateful In early June. This is the lifecycle of a LAMM organiser!

I find myself going through periods of self-doubt during the Winter months as I am trying to get permission to cross the estates. I worry that I won't devote enough time to ensure that everyone is happy with us being on the area and that I won't have nailed all the logistics that need to be nailed. I know full well that I didn't push the event hard enough this year and should have built up a head of steam for the event in February and March. If you were concerned that all went quiet in the first part of the year - you now know the reason. It's only when the event starts to come together that I feel I can be upbeat and confident about the event. But by then it's too late to find more teams and in any case, the LAMM clashed with a number of other events that folk were keen to take part in.

HOW DO WE BUILD THE NUMBERS AGAIN TO MAKE THE LAMM COMMERCIALLY VIABLE?
You 285 teams were a very select and privileged group and if your absent friends had known what they were about to miss, maybe we could have attracted 500 teams to the event, like in the old days. I should have tried harder and learned how to harness the power of social media. The LAMM requires about 500 teams to be commercially viable and 2017 has by necessity been a labour of love for me. If you would like the LAMM continue, I need to ask all of you to spread the word about what a fantastic weekend you had and make all your absent friends jealous. If each team that took part this year undertakes to attract one additional team that missed out this year, we should be able to reach our target of 500 teams in 2018. The incentive is that if you help us find more teams, we can have a LAMM next year. If anyone fancies writing an article about their LAMM experience for an appropriate magazine or website, we could offer you a free entry for next year.

AMAZING
I think the area has been amazing and the event completely surpassed my expectations. The weather was amazing and allowed LAMMers to fully appreciate some of Britain's finest mountain scenery - we were so lucky as the weather went off big style immediately after the LAMM and has been mostly awful ever since. The way that Andy our planner and Angela our controller made use of the 3 mountain ranges for the 6 courses was also amazing. When I pulled the event in February 2015, Andy had already done a lot of work on the courses and I felt sorry for him that they would never see the light of day. How good it was that Andy could carry on where he left off and provide us with these gem-filled journeys.

And, of course, you guys have also been amazing - only 2 teams didn't make it to the midcamp which is remarkable - you must have been enjoying it so much……

When we held the previous LAMM in 2014, we had a few LAMMers come to us at the midcamp with trashed shoes, unable to compete on day 2. Gaffer Tape is a wonderful thing but it set us thinking about a simple solution that would make it possible for a team to salvage their weekend. In the past both Debbie and I have given LAMMers a pair of our own size 9 and 6.5 fell shoes so that they could take part in day 2. I had been thinking of asking LAMMers to drop off their 'best' pair of old fell shoes at registration so that we could bring a selection of sizes in to the midcamp. Three years have passed and we forgot all about this idea. However I did bring a bin liner full of our old size 9 and 6.5 shoes to the midcamp and one very lucky LAMMer was able to walk away from the download tent on Saturday evening in a pair of my size 9 inov-8s.

AN TEALACH, FISHERFIELD & FANNICHS - THE LAST SCOTTISH WEST COAST AREA
At LAMM HQ, we have a small scale map of Scotland with all 21 LAMM areas marked on it. It's a patchwork quilt and we have taken great pleasure seeing the gaps fill. An Teallach, Fisherfield and the Fannichs is our final patch on the West Coast of Scotland. Andy Spenceley and I have spent a lot of time over the years discussing this particular area but we couldn't see a way to provide a suitable Event Centre and Midcamp combo. An obvious requirement is that all the courses have options to return to base from a single midcamp on the Sunday. The midcamp needs to be accessible by vehicle & trailer or a reasonable sized boat to deliver the infrastructure, it needs drinking water and some flattish and not too boggy ground for camping. When we spotted the house at the west end of Loch a' Bhraoin on the OS map, it was a light bulb moment because it offered possibilities for courses with very different lengths to enjoy two challenging days.

PORTALOOS - NOT USUALLY AN INTERESTING TOPIC OF CONVERSATION!
Ever since 2007 when a competitor complained vehemently that there were no portaloos at the midcamp, I have striven wherever to provide these facilities, come what may. In Assynt 2006, the most northerly LAMM ever, our midcamp was at the head of Loch Glencoul. It was accessible to us only by boat and I would never rule out a fantastic midcamp just because we couldn't get the portaloos in.

This year was the most challenging yet for our friends at Heilan Loos, who are always up for a challenge. On a snowy morning in March, Kevin and I reccied the 4KM journey along the north shore of Loch a' Bhraoin, inching along the track in their recently acquired Landrover Discovery. I wanted to ensure that Kevin was comfortable with the plan to tow 8 loos along this incredibly, rough, narrow track with challenging, washed out, stream crossings and gravel beaches. The guys at Heilan Loos not only towed in the 8 loos but in a military style operation at precisely 11:00 on Saturday morning, all LAMM marshals met at the east end of Loch a' Bhraoin. The contents of our transit van were transferred to a trailer which they towed in behind a second Land Rover. If you ever organise an event in the Highlands and need loos - look no further than Heilan Loos.

FOLK I NEED TO THANK

  • The 10 Estates that afforded us the privilege of crossing 300,000 hectares of fantastic mountain country. I would especially like to thank Lady Jane Rice who was persuaded (reluctantly because she's quite shy) to present the prizes. The Rice family own Dundonnell Estate which includes great hills and also the superb Event Centre field. A number of marshals

  • Andy Spenceley (our planner) and Angela Mudge (controller) - I mentioned the great work byabove. Ray Wilby and Ian Hay used to be the planners for the Highlander MM. They live locally and I heard on the grapevine that they were missing their annual involvement with an MM after the final Highlander took place last year. Their assistance to the LAMM this year has been invaluable in marking control sites in April, deploying controls in May and collecting them in early June. The final 5 man days of control collecting took place last Monday and by Monday evening, (the day after theLAMM), there was no sign that the LAMM had ever been to the area. Thanks to all LAMMers for leaving NO rubbish whatsoever at the midcamp. We were really heartened to see how much you respected the hills and our opportunity to hold an event across them.

  • Our 20 Marshals, many of who have supported the event for ever and for whom we always try to provide their own mini adventures throughout the weekend. Sue and Katrin Harding who relished the opportunity to show the men how to dig the loo trench at the midcamp. A week before the LAMM, Angela Mudge stayed at Shenvall Bothy and deployed all the Fisherfield controls. On the Sunday night of the LAMM Konrad Rawlik walked in to Shenavall. He set off at 4am Monday to clear the controls from Fisherfield and finished just before the weather turned bad.
  • Andrew Leaney - my friend and colleague who manages our website, does the timing/results and works uber hard to ensure that content is uploaded to the web, regardless of the remoteness of the midcamp. On the Thursday before the LAMM, Andrew slipped quietly away from his parents 50th Wedding Anniversary family do on the Isles of Scilly. He flew from Isles of Scilly -> Exeter -> Manchester -> Inverness where Brian Jackson collected him and delivered him to Dundonnell. That's dedication for you and we're very grateful.
  • Piper Alan Cameron - 10 time LAMMER who responded immediately to my email requesting a piper. Thanks for great music and especially for allowing us to bring your pipes in to the midcamp.
  • Arrochar MRT who have supported us ever since 1995 and saved lives.
  • An Teallach Ales Micro Brewery - all the money taken from sales of beer was presented directly to Arrochar Team - £2,100. Davie the owner of the brewery also came along on the Friday night and Sunday to setup the bar for us and pull some pints.
  • Alasdair MacDonald - Stalker for Dundonnell Estate who has been so helpful to me and trusted enough in the event to recommend it to the Rice family who own Dundonnell. Some of you will have had similar experiences when organising events but when one speaks to a representative of a key estate for the first time, I reckon that one has about 2 minutes to make the right first impression. It is a scarey time as a NO would scupper the use of the entire area. But in this case I had nothing to fear. Alasdair lent me a number of bits of kit (because I was a rusty LAMM organiser I forgot to bring some stuff the event) and helped to setup and manage the bar. An absolute gent with a heart of gold. Nothing was too much trouble and I cannot tell you what a difference it makes when the estate hosting the event enjoys the event being on its land.
  • LAMM Map - Malcolm Campbell who is Omapz made a tob job of the map and provided great support to us as we prepared for the event.
  • Wilfs for coming out of "virtual retirement" from supporting outdoor events and joining us for the 20th time.
  • Musicians on Friday Night - We were so lucky when Adrian Will and his fellow musicians from Strathcarron and Skye stepped in at 5 hours notice when the leader of 4 In A Bar, the group we had originally booked, was whisked into hospital with Gallstones. I had just about given up hope of having any live music on the Friday night until I made a chance call to Adrian, the Plockton Brewer who provided beer for the 2014 LAMM. It was a near miracle that he could find 4 players at such short notice and they were superb, adding so much to the ambience in the big tent.
  • LAMM Tee - Stuart Brown from Frontline Graphic Design in Kendal came up with a great graphic for the tee shirt, in the traditional and quirky style of the LAMM. He skilfully re-branded the event so that we could move on from the Lowe Alpine era.
  • inov-8 for their generous provision of prizes and to Rick at Compasspoint for helping to arrange it.

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Route planning above Loch Duich

The clouds over mid camp

Racing together - the spirit of the event

Lowe Alpine Mourne Mountain Marathon