Team 'Tracks and Trails' have just returned to the Peak District following the 2 day Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM). My team mate, who's also my husband, was mountain guide Olly Allen. A recipe for success or disaster?
Following a sunny climbing road trip and final run preperations in Wales and Northumberland, Olly and I started to make our way north for the LAMM. The LAMM, known as the 'connoisseurs' mountain marathon, is a 2 day mountain competition, in pairs, navigating along the way with an overnight camp. This means you carry all your own sleeping equipment, food and stove etc for 2 days on the hill.
This was my 3rd LAMM and the reason i'll travel so far for a race is due to the stunning, remote locations, idyllic half-way camp and the friendly atmosphere from start to finish. To add intrigue to the event the organisers keep the final meeting location under wraps right up until the day before. All we knew until then was it was 3.5 hrs drive north of Glasgow and 2 hrs from Inverness.....The final event details email was sent out last Thursday along with a severe weather warning! 'Heavy rain due, 0 degrees, gales, rain and snow above 600m, be prepared for wintery conditions!' The final location was Morvich, Kintail. Home to famous Five Sisters of Kintail, above Glen Shiel. So on Friday we made our way, in heavy rain, to the event centre point!
Morvich is on the edge of Kintail Forrest and the Duich Loch and not far from the Isle of Skye bridge - perfect location. To add further interest to the event we were bused to our starting point where you mark your map up with the control points and where we set off into the wilds for the next two days. The course we ran took us 26 miles over 2400m of ascent...and much to our amazement we benefitted from breezy, mild temperatures to run in and barely felt a drop of rain all weekend. It was also enough to keep the adorable midge at bay! The chat at the overnight was great and morale high. The camp was in a remote setting, munros all around, with a river and Loch on tap to bathe sore feet and legs in - the sunshine kept us warm whilst cooking and bite free! Amazing!
Following a cool night the bagpipes woke us at 5am! Our result on day 1, 29th pair (56mins off the leader) put us into the 'chasing start'. This means we had to start day 2 exactly 56 mins behind the lead pair! Those in the chasing start wear a bib so that others also 'out there' know that you to be hunted down! So as the seconds ticked we waited inline for our next set of controls and were away - straight up hill - yet again! Just as we approached control 2 we saw our first team to be hunted....this proved to be a bit of a fight but finally took them on another long climb. Later on we came across a couple of other tired looking male teams who we soon left behind!
Day 2 seemed to be continuously uphill, great for us as that's where we seemed to benefit with overtakes. The climbs also reward you with 360 degree views, if you can take a second to look, including over to Skye. The killer for me is the contouring for long distances, travelling at one height without a path on awkward ankle/knee twisting ground. After a long spell of this we came over the last peak and could finally see the event centre below! Breathing a sigh of relief we started picking up speed for the final descent, passing teams from all different categories. It was a great finale all the way back into the sunny finish grounds.
Our score for day 2 was 17th team - putting us into 25th over the 2 days out of 164 teams, 6th mixed team which we were really pleased with. Recipe for success - following very few 'discussions' on navigation, speed or who carried what - Olly's already getting details of the newest, lightweight kit on the market for 'next years' LAMM. So watch this space as I may well have converted this climber into a runner