One of our resident orienteering experts Jonny recalls his experience of the Original Mountain Marathon 2013
OMM 2013 A course
Over the summer I gave an out of hand comment to a freind that I would step in to compete in the event if his partner dropped out. Fast forward 3 months to the weekend before the OMM and I got a call asking whether I was still free and keen to run the A course. This was a little worrying as my freind had a 100% win record in the previous four times he had competed and was expecting nothing less! With the courses planned at roughly 65km and an expected winning time of 11 hours I was a bit apprehensive but couldn't back down. After travelling down on the Friday night, pitching the tent in a shallow marsh and catching up with a few friends we retired early and got ourselves sorted ready for the weekend and a 6.30am start. The morning rolled around all too quickly and all too soon we were putting our rucksacks on and heading off to the start in what only could be described as dismal weather. We arrived just in time to see what we assumed would be our main competition setting off and watched their route till they disappeared in to the clouds. After a bit of milling around in the drizzle our time came and we were off.
Our Silva thumb compasses were straight out and bearings taken as we set off uncomfortably fast across the heath and tussocks, luckily the pace slowed a little as we got to grips with our 37km first day. We decided to go as straight as possible to minimise the amount extra distance which meant more climbing unfortunately but we managed to hit every control cleanly even in the patches which were foggy.
My friend went through a bad patch on the first long up and down leg but got food in and was fine in a short while. Then it was my turn to hit the wall a little, eating as much food as I could but unfortunately it didn't work as we hit one of the only tracks on the map. An uphill grind for 2km was accomplished at a walk for the majority then all of a sudden the food kicked in and I could move again. We got a great confidence boost dropping down in to the next control, whilst still not feeling great we saw the pair which we thought would be our competition just in front of us! We slowly gained on them and then out route choiced them. The race was on as we tried to put as much time between ourselves and them as possible. As we finished the course planner came to speak to us and was surprised and disappointed that we were only out for 5 hours although informed us that we were the first finished on the course. A surprise as we started near to the back!
Then comes the hardest part of the weekend....the overnight! Our racing tent was pitched eventually at the umpteenth time of asking and all our warm layers put on. It was only 2pm so we ate some food and tried to get warm whilst hiding from the elements in the one man tent. Come 6pm and it's bed time, the weather had worsened now with a driving wind and rain buffeting one side of the tent making the inner wet. After dozing for a few hours my friend woke me to tell me he was off to the toilets to get warm and dry. At 4am I woke to a massive flash of lightning and clap of thunder with my freind still not back. At 6am he returned as the camp stirred, a quick breakfast and the tent came down. Both recounting tales of poor sleep as we wandered to the start ready to lead the chase off. Although both feeling it a little, our spirits were buoyed by the rain shortened courses due to the forecast storm, down to just 20km where we surely couldn't lose a 30min lead! As 7am arrived we toed the line with fell running legends such as Wendy Dodds and Steve Birkinshaw also leading their respective classes and then it began, the leading teams on the Elite and B joined us as we charged up the first hill. Neither wanting to be the first team to blink as it was and cave to a walk. We pushed on up to the first control on the shoulder of Bannau Sir Gaer in some gorgeous weather and watched as the gap to the rest of the leading category teams on our course grew. The good visibility made finding all the controls a lot easier especially in the limestone areas to the west, although the rock underfoot was very treacherous. On our only long leg of the day we were both lacking motivation as the weather began to close in and the ground underfoot became soft. As we dropped over Fan Foel the storm arrived, although luckily we were on the home stretch with just 2km left on the open moor before diving in to the forest for the run in. At the last moorland control we knew we couldn't be caught, which was fortunate as the hard track through the woods hit me hard. With the little rise a few hundred metres from the finish reducing myself to a walk.
Despite losing 5 minutes on the second day our lead from the first was large enough to hold on. I was very pleased to achieve this as I was quite unsure of how I would get on due to my lack of specific training. Our prizes, the Silva trail runner headtorches are brilliant and now my go to headtorch which I used to support a night leg of a Winter Bob Graham the weekend before Christmas. The only downside to this result is the fact that if I want to run again next year I have to run ELITE!
- Brecon Beacons, Wales