is twenty seven years since Bryan undertook his first
he completed the one that could be his last.
late October 1985 I completed an event in
the Lakes known as the Karrimor International
Mountain Marathon (KIMM).
was a 2 day event requiring competitors
to find a series of checkpoints (in those
days just an orienteering kite and some
pin hole punches) placed so that they weren’t
too easy to find.
courses presented choices of routes to get
to them – for example should I contour around
the hill traversing this boulder field,
or would it be quicker to follow the path
but have to climb 300 ft more?
the gear needed for an overnight camp in
the middle of nowhere – tent; sleeping bag;
food etc. - had to be carried with you,
and the intention was that you ran as much
as you could.
finished 145th out of 328 teams and I really
enjoyed it – particularly when we finished!
days the KIMM is known as the Original Mountain Marathon
(OMM) and achieved some undeserved notoriety in 2008
when heavy rain and flooding lead to headline TV news
of runners stranded overnight on Mount Scafell!
1985 event was the first of many more Mountain Marathons
for me. I have competed in other Karrimors; Saunders
Lakeleand Mountain Marathons (SLMM); the Lowe Alpine
Mountain Marathon (LAMM); the Rock and Run; The Howgill
Challenge; and (in 1990) the Swiss Karrimor which took
place in Lenk in the Swiss Alps.
1992 I completed the LAMM in Glen Shiel, Scotland, with
Tony Mercer. I didn’t know at the time but this was
to be my last event. In subsequent years I started to
have problems with cramp which has stopped me running
and, despite seeing every possible expert, I have been
unable to overcome it.
wasn’t happy with this situation and it has been gnawing
away at me for some years. If I had to stop Mountain
Marathons I would prefer it to be my decision rather
than one that crept up on me.
Saunders is the only event that has a class purely for
walkers (you have to wear walking boots!) so I suggested
to Tony Mercer that we should give it a go. He agreed.
the Wednesday before the event I was at the physio barely
able to straighten up, and certainly in no state to
compete. An hour’s manipulation seemed to improve it
a bit and so we decided to give it a try.
year’s event was based at Wasdale Head. The forecast
for the weekend had been grim right up until Thursday
night when suddenly it started predicting a decent day
and we arrived in Wasdale at 8am in glorious sunshine
and no wind.
event centre at Wasdale Head
registering and sorting gear out we had plenty of time
for a cuppa before the mile walk to the start. Back
in the ‘old days’ my haversack weighed as little as
11lbs for an event like this – achieved by doing things
such as taking a very thin Karrimat and using foil dishes
as pans;, but this time we had gone for a bit more luxury
and the consequent weight was 17lbs – 8.5 bags of sugar
– and it felt it as we trudged along.
back to the event centre on the walk to the Start
our start time of 10:23 Tony ‘dibbed’ and we were off.
Dibbing was the biggest change I noticed since 1985.
You have a small pen-like electronic device fastened
to one of the teams wrists and you dib this into a small
box located at each control. It registers your time
onto the dibber and when you finish you download it
into another little box and are handed, there and then,
a print out of the times for all your controls and your
current position within the class.
dibbed to start we were handed a piece of paper with
the 6-figure grid reference and a description of our
10 checkpoints for the day. We then spent 20 mins marking
the controls on the map – some things hadn’t changed!
first control was a re-entrant and I made the first
navigational mistake by leaving the stream too early.
This probably cost us 5 minutes and was a reminder to
me that in these events you should not get distracted
by where other teams are going and concentrate on, and
have confidence in, your own route choice and navigation.
there the route took us steeply to a knoll near Looking
Stead on the Pillar ridge. This went well and our next
control was on Wind Gap on the far side of Pillar. I
opted for contouring around Pillar across a large boulder
field (I’ve finished the Wainwrights so don’t need the
tick!), whilst virtually everyone else went over the
top The results suggest this recovered the time lost
on the first control.
on the ridge near Looking Stead
Tony ‘dibs’ the 2nd control
course then took us via Scoat Fell where we stopped
for a drink and where I left my compass on the rock,
only realising when we were 300 feet lower down. I opted
not to go back for it!
is where I left my compass!
6 from Scoat Tarn to the Pots of Ashness was our best
of the event. I took a perfect contouring route and
the split times show only 6 teams were faster than us
on this 45 minute stretch.
down Blengdale. The finish is near the forest at the
end of the valley
and Overnight camp comes into view
more tough, boggy legs took us to within sight of the
overnight camp at Scalderskew farm, just a couple of
miles North West of Calder Bridge on the coast. A final
trudge through the forest saw us finish the 3739ft /
10.7miles of Day 1 in 7hrs 3mins.
dibs at the Finish
overnight camp was excellent, and one great tradition
of the Saunders remained intact – they try and get some
beer into the site! In this case it had to be pre-ordered
and we’d only gone for one each, but sitting in the
sun after the tent was up and drinking a beer was a
superb end to the day.
other noticeable difference was the size of tents. My
Saunders Spacepacker was the tent for events back in
’85, but it seemed like a large house compared to some
of the things people were squeezing into today.
Our 5-star accommodation!
is served (note the dibber on Tony’s wrist)
good meal and off to sleep for me, but not so for Tony.
An on-going problems with leg cramps meant he had to
get up every hour or so up to 2am and walk around so
he was pretty shattered as we lined up for the mass
start on Day 2.
weather was more overcast and cloud had begun to cover
some of the higher tops. Another early mistake on the
first control cost us time (we should have followed
the masses on this occasion) before the long flog up
to control 3 above Buckbarrow and number 4 near the
summit of Seatallan, which by this time was in the mist.
Into the mist as we approach the control on Seatallan
approaching control 7
next three legs were relatively straight forward before
we headed towards Wast Water on a long contour of a
boulder strewn slope hidden amongst thick bracken. This
leg was only about 1 mile in distance but took us 43
start of the rough stretch ( didn’t take many photos
was to follow as even rougher ground had to be traversed
around the shoulder of Yewbarrow. This was less than
a mile and took us 58 mins!
Looking down Wasdale
9 at last - on the slopes of Yewbarrow
that was the worst over and the last couple of miles
to the finish were over more reasonable ground. We ended
the 2376ft / 11.4miles in 6 hours 41 mins.
end is in sight
at the results today we seem to have done pretty well.
were the 2nd oldest team in the class (a combined age
of 128 years) and finished 24th out of 38.
Veterans category (teams with a combined age over 90)
has a handicap system based on your combined age and
in this we finished 2nd out of 17 teams
the class we did (the Bedafell) uses the same course
as a runner’s class (the Wansfell). Comparing our times
to these teams we would have finished 95th out of 115;
and with the Vets handicap time we would have been 19th
out of 52.
am pretty pleased with that. It’s probably a good way
to end my Mountain Marathon career although if someone
were to be interested in having a go some time………..
final thought. Some of you know I was also using the
event to convince myself that I was fit enough to head
off to the Alps next week and attempt to climb Mont
Blanc. It’s done that, but yesterday’s headline news
of the avalanche deaths on the mountain has done nothing
to reassure Liz that I should be going. Clearly it’s
a risk, but then so is Jack’s Rake and I’d happily go
up that tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
Hardaker, 17th July 2012
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These pages describe
adventures of BOOTboys,
a loose group of friends
years who enjoy defying the aging process
by getting out into the hills
often as possible!
As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that
our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.
the index pages
of our various outings
on the relevant
As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an
item of footwear but is in memory of Big
Josie, the erstwhile landlady of
the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day
1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!
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If you want to join
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download a log of which Wainwrights have
been done by which BOOTboy
in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent
click on Wainwrights.
anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know
and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!