2019 Race Director's Report

Immediately after the Scottish Mountain Marathon I took a week off and stayed in Scotland (a wet and wild week spent in the Outer Hebrides). Ordinarily, I’d be travelling back to our Kendal base to help with the unpacking and kit sorting that occurs after each event. It’s the first time I’ve done this after an event, and it definitely felt like I was skiving! Subsequently my Race Director’s report has also been delayed until now.

Giving out prizes at the first ever Scottish Mountain Marathon ©Steve Ashworth Media

Giving out prizes at the first ever Scottish Mountain Marathon ©Steve Ashworth Media

The brilliant LAMM is a difficult act to follow. However, I am very pleased to report that during the event and in the days since, it is very clear from the conversations, social media and feedback that the inaugural Scottish Mountain Marathon™ was a big success. We promised, “Big route choices, remote overnight camps, and incredible journeys through Scotland's finest mountain environments”, and I think this was largely achieved whilst balanced against the challenges of fitting all the different course planning constraints into the geographical realities of the distant Event Centre in Attadale and the remote Overnight Camp at Bendronaig Lodge. I’d like to thank Gary Tompsett and Graham Gristwood for their planning and controlling of the courses.

I’d also like to thank everyone who has provided considered and thoughtful feedback so far. At the Scottish Mountain Marathon, it seemed that most of the issues that participants raised with us were due to assuming that, “…things would be the same as the LAMM”. That is not to say that we can’t learn from how the LAMM previously organised a very similar event, but I am very unlikely to ever (at any event), to start changing on the fly the event format when they are clearly described before the event on the event website. Specifically, we will look very carefully at the day 2 start times as we started later than the LAMM had historically and it seemed many people in the chasing start would prefer an earlier start time. Certainly, I recognise that giving everyone sufficient time to travel home on the Sunday is important, as is allowing sufficient time before the course closure times on Sunday to enable teams to finish their courses, especially ensuring that the Elite course remains achievable for female participants. 

Collecting maps at the start of day two ©Steve Ashworth Media

Collecting maps at the start of day two ©Steve Ashworth Media

Some of you will be aware that there was a helicopter rescue of a participant on the C Course on the Saturday. Most importantly, the participant is ‘ok’ sustaining injuries that could have been far worse given the circumstances; they fell down a steep slope and into a small gorge. A huge thank you must go to Roger Mapleson and Craig Marsden who stopped to assist, one staying with the casualty, and one running back to the Attadale Event Centre to raise the alarm. In case anyone is wondering, we gave them a huge time bonus of 90 minutes to cover the extra distance ran, and time spent with the casualty. Our event Response Team was quickly on scene and their assessment was that a stretcher evacuation with a mountain rescue team would be time consuming and not without risk to the rescuers due to the gorge terrain. Therefore, we requested a helicopter evacuation. One of the real values of having a professional Response Team made up of Mountain Rescue team members available at each event is that we can quickly deploy to an incident, provide the same standard of initial care that one would expect from a 999 Mountain Rescue Team, minimise any reliance on local Mountain Rescue teams to assist us at our events, and as illustrated in this instance, our judgement that a helicopter evacuation was best was actioned promptly. Special thanks to all involved.

Many thanks to the Event Team ©Steve Ashworth Media

Many thanks to the Event Team ©Steve Ashworth Media

Thank Yous

As is always the case I’d like to say a very public and sincere thanks to our Event Team who are largely volunteers and just worked so hard to make the event happen on the weekend. What a super group of people. We actually had a smaller team at the event than we had initially planned for. I think that with many of our regular helpers having supported the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® (another of our events) just two weeks before in Wales, and the prospect of the very long drive to Attadale, combined so that we were a little low on numbers. Whilst I don’t think any of the participants noticed, it did mean some longer shifts for everyone working at the event. We’ll make an extra effort to recruit more people to the Event Team in 2020 and if you ever wondered what it is like to help at an event please don’t hesitate to get in touch and register your interest with us; more about volunteering here. For the record the Event Team was:

  • Abbi Forsyth

  • Alex Chesters

  • Alexander Major

  • Charlotte Hattersley

  • Colin Harding

  • Fiona Murphy

  • Geoff Cox

  • Graham Gristwood

  • Helen Samson

  • Ian Cowie

  • Ian Stewart

  • Janie Oates

  • Katie Cole

  • Lawrie Jones

  • Matt Gemmell

  • Sandra Williams

  • Shane Ohly

  • Steve Ashworth

  • Tim Glasby

  • Tom Hecht

I would also like to thank the three Estates that we worked with. These were Arineckaig Estate, Attadale Estate and Inverinate Estate. In particular the Attadale Estate where the Event Centre was based, and who also own the land around Bendronaig Lodge were exceptionally helpful and always offered us a warm welcome when we visited to plan the event.

Happy campers at the overnight camp at Bendronaig Lodge ©Steve Ashworth Media

Happy campers at the overnight camp at Bendronaig Lodge ©Steve Ashworth Media

Mountain Marathon training camp

Mountainmarathon.com will be organising another training camp this summer specifically aimed at younger runners (aged 16-21) who are interested in learning about Mountain Marathons, improving their mountain skills and navigation, and having a great weekend in the hills. As long as you have got the fitness to spend a day out in the hills (comprising mostly slow running and some walking) and an interest in Mountain Marathon events, you are very welcome to join us. Best of all, the Mountain Marathon training camp is FREE - subject to availability - please complete an application form here.

The Mountain Marathon youth training camp is for 16-21 year olds, although we will consider younger runners if they have appropriate experience. We will also accept slightly older runners if they are attending with a partner who is aged 16-21. Please contact us if you are unsure. Parental consent will be required for under 18s.

The promise of “incredible journeys through Scotland's finest mountain environments” was kept! ©Steve Ashworth Media

The promise of “incredible journeys through Scotland's finest mountain environments” was kept! ©Steve Ashworth Media

2020 Event and Dates

You may be aware that we also organise the Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® and the Cape Wrath Ultra®, which alternate every other year and take place at the end of May… just two weeks before the Scottish Mountain Marathon. So that these two enormous events fit best with the Scottish Mountain Marathon™ Ourea Events have decided to hold the Scottish Mountain Marathon™ in the north of Scotland or on the Islands in a Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race® year and hold a more southerly Scottish Mountain Marathon in a Cape Wrath Ultra® year. In 2020 it is the turn of the Cape Wrath Ultra® in Scotland, and therefore it is our intention to hold the Scottish Mountain Marathon “not too far north” in Scotland… 

We have the permissions sorted and the 2020 venue is amazing… somewhere that has never had a Mountain Marathon before, but with some of the best and remotest mountain terrain on offer in Scotland… it is a real treat. And we will of course continue to focus on the core values of the Scottish Mountain Marathon; “Big route choices, remote overnight camps, and incredible journeys through Scotland's finest mountain environments”.

See you 13-14th June 2020 for the next edition of the Scottish Mountain Marathon™

Yours in running,
Shane Ohly

So far lots of great feedback on the courses - Thank you! ©Steve Ashworth Media

So far lots of great feedback on the courses - Thank you! ©Steve Ashworth Media