The Original Mountain Marathon (or OMM as it is more commonly known) is without a doubt one of the toughest mountain marathons in the county. A two-day test of endurance, teamwork and mountain skills, it’s held in some of the most remote locations at a time of year when conditions can be extremely challenging. This year it was in Glentrool, Scotland and looked as formidable as ever! From the start to the finish on the second day, including the overnight camp, you have to be self-sufficient unit and must carry all the gear you need (including tent and stove etc).
I had opted for the B course - travelling as the crow flies from point to point each day was around 26km with 1500m of ascent. However, this doesn’t account for anything in between each checkpoint such as lakes, tarns, mountains and cliffs. We would be, without a doubt, travelling a lot further! Standing there on the start line knowing the course planners had spent the last 18 months devising a course that would challenge every bit of my ability and stamina, it was safe to say I was pretty nervous..! In the next few moments Tom and I would be handed the map finally revealing the details of the course and sent on our way.
The weather was mixed, despite being warm there was pretty poor visibility and intermittent rain – I suspected this year navigation would be particularly tricky. Map and compass in hand we were off, Tom and I quickly formulated a plan to reach the first checkpoint and scampered off into the bleak surroundings!
We made our first mistake very early on - having been swept along excitedly with other runners, all on different courses going in different directions, we had questioned our original plan and kept changing tact.
We were now what I like to call ‘temporarily misplaced’. Resisting the urge to completely doubt our ability to read a map we decided to relocated ourselves from a nearby craggy area – and as it happened managed to actually stumble upon the checkpoint in the process. It was an utter stroke of luck! In my head I scolded myself for not being more switched on from the start and we made an agreement to be more careful with our route planning.
Lesson learnt it was time to try and recover some time (or at least not lose any more)! The terrain was tough – a combination of deep bogs and rutted tufted grass with hidden streams and holes, it was ankle snapping territory. I had naively envisioned stunning Scottish mountainside however it looked like it was just going to be a view of my compass and a white wall of cloud!
By midday we had located checkpoints 2, 3 and 4 without issue however the going was slow, I was beginning to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew… The ‘B Course’ was turning out to look a little bit ambitious as an introduction to the OMM. It crossed my mind that taking up a more ‘normal’ weekend pastime like watching Netflix might have been more sensible! But hindsight is a wonderful thing and at that moment the only thing we could do was give it our best shot. Then just as things were at their toughest, the murk lifted to reveal a herd of deer crossing the valley below – it was beautiful. I realised all in all despite not being the quickest or the fittest (and ignoring the pain in my legs) I was actually really enjoying myself. Plus, on a positive note, now we were into it navigation was actually going really well.
After 9 hours and 56 minutes of bog trogging and heather bashing we reached the midcamp - I was totally chuffed to have made it this far nice and clear of the cut off time. All we had to do now was survive the night and get round tomorrow’s course – no problem!? I’ll be honest the thought of repeating the day’s performance was pretty daunting. Pushing this to one side I pitched the tent and changed into dry clothes eager to start cooking dinner and get an early night before the next day’s challenge.
The next day we were up early woken by the dulcet tones of the bagpipes for our 7am start. Despite being a bit stiff and sore I felt really up for the challenge – the visibility had improved hugely and I was keen to get going. Out of the start gate, I was not going to have a repeat of Saturday morning. Our planning was far better this time and I was surprised how quickly we found the first control – it felt great to tick this off in good time.
With so much to concentrate on I can’t believe how quickly the second day went. Given the aching legs and blistered feet I was very much expecting it to be a long slog, but whilst I was tired I was having a great time. Yes you feel fairly crap and broken but somehow you turn off the part of your brain that tells you to stop and just keep going, knowing it will be worth it in the end!
Before I knew it we were approaching the final checkpoint and the finish. Not content with the vast amounts of bog and mud that we had already had to contend with the event organisers seemed to have orchestrated the last mile or so to represent a mini tough mudder! Slipping and sliding towards the finish, I couldn’t quite believe this would soon be over. On one hand I was a bit sad it was all finished but on the other (much larger) hand I couldn’t wait for a cup of tea and a sit down!
Tom and I crossed the finish line in 6 hours and 42 minutes after starting, giving us an overall time of 16 hours 38 minutes and placing us 39th over the two days – at this point position meant very little to me I can genuinely say I was just delighted to finish (a large number of pairs don’t).
The OMM 100% lived up to its reputation as a brutal challenge both mentally and physically. There are moments I truly contemplated what on earth I was doing thigh deep in bog in the Scottish hills. My feet may take a while to recover and my kit may permanently be covered in Glentrool mud but if you asked me if I would like to do it all again the answer would be a wholehearted yes!
The full report can be found on Hetty's blog Mud, Chalk & Gears