How do you tend to get started in mountain marathoning? I don't really know much about them but would like to know more.
I know how to read a map, take bearings, define a grid reference etc but at this stage I'm not interested in (or capable of!) in actually running that kind of distance/time, so is it frowned upon to walk?
That said, I'm not unfit by any means (walked 30 miles in a day carrying a pack back at the start of may) but the fitness required to run for the duration of one of these events is whole other level. Basically I like the idea of an organised challenge event but I'm kind of hoping there are some which don't require you to quite that fit. I've noticed that the Saunders Lakeland MM has a walking category which, while being quite short, is at least a start so I may look at entering that with a friend next year.
Any advice to someone new to these things?
edit: haha great, just noticed I typo-ed the thread title. *sigh*
It's not frowned upon to walk. In the lower classes on most there's no shortage of people walking. But I would suggest you need to be looking at keeping up a brisk pace for the duration and not spending much time having breaks.
Start off by doing a summer event (i.e., not the OMM!) and enter the lowliest class you can.
The navigation is usually harder than typical hillwalking. First up, it's meant to be, second you'll be doing non-obvious stuff like finding contour wiggles in otherwise fairly featureless terrain and you can't rely on simple strategies that you can use to fiund summits (if there's an "up", I'm not at the top yet! sort of thing). It's probably a Cunning Plan to get started with some Orienteering as that'll get you used to constant-contact navigagtion, looking for rather spurious semi-hidden checkpoints and planning routes on the fly (and you don't have to run on an O either, plus it's a fun challenge in its own right but on a smaller scale to a MM).
Thanks Peter, in that case the SLMM sounds like it might be a good place to start, as it's usually in July and the walking-only class is designed to have a winning time of 9-10 hours (total over the 2 days) according to the website. This year's course is ~30km with 1400m of elevation.
I have done some orienteering before but not for about 8 years so it'd probably be worth brushing up.
We entered the D class of the Lamm last year. We only ran on the level and gentle downs, if it was smooth enough and even so we would have finished in the middle of the class if our navigation had been good enough. It was all very friendly. If you mentioned you were "just" in D class the universal retort was there is no "just" in Mountain marathons.
If you can run the whole way and make some attempt to run up hill you should be entering the elite class.
Some are probably more competitive than others and some will not let you enter say the A class unless you have experience of the B class.
How about searching out events that are run on a score format. Basically you get a map with numerous scored check points marked on it, the score is based on how hard the checkpoint is to reach. You have a set period of time to visit as many or as few of the checkpoints as you think you can manage, notching up your score for everyone you navigate to. There is no set route, but there are heavy penalties for every minute you are late back.
Reading through the OMM short score results last year, I noticed that walkers who navigated effectively to easy to reach checkpoints and got to the finish in time, often beat the runners who went all out for the big points but got stung for being late back.
These events limit numbers and if you don't book a place early enough you won't get in.
Give it a go and good luck.
From the sounds of it, it would be a good idea for me to brush up my orienteering skills so I'll probably try and fit some in this year with a view to entering one of these next year. Rocky, I'd seen that there were score-based options but again was a bit unsure of what the entry requirements might be. It seems like they would be very similar to orientating so could be good fun!
Derek, as you mentioned LAMM I looked at their website and the first link on the page that caught my eye was "The Accident". Having read that it's very fortunate that both of them were still alive at the end of it, it sounds like a really nasty fall. I've always been wary of scree since slipping quite a way down a slope when I was about 10 - nothing anywhere near as bad as that though. A very good reminder that these events aren't just a walk in the park.
One suggestion if the idea of a 'whole' mountain marathon is a bit daunting, would be to take a look at the Bowland Challenge, a charity event run by Bowland Pennine MRT. It's rather like a score-based MM but with the action condensed into 10 hours on one day. You spend the evening before plotting 100 or so checkpoints on the map and then deciding your own route to clock as many points as possible. There are penalties for late timekeeping at lunch or the end. It's kind-of-competitive-but-kind-of-not, folk take it as seriously as they like and that covers a wide range, but it is great fun. I was delighted to come 3rd and then 2nd in the first two events (haven't managed to enter since), and OMer Toreador (who posts mostly on the running thread) has won the last three. It pretty small scale too, probably attracting between 30 and 50 entrants.
Unfortunately this year's event has been cancelled because of problems with the venue, but it should be back in 2011. If you want to know a bit more the 2 articles linked below my name in this post are my OM write-ups of the two I took part in, and there's a link to the Bowland Challenge website.
If you look on the SLMM web site you will find the course descriptions for previous years , thus you can "arm chair" the enent and get a feel of what it would be like to plan legs.
Also have a look at Hareveys 1:40000 maps. these tend to be the maps used and if not used to them are a little different to OS.
In fact Harveys map, previous years route.... why not go and have a go at your own Marathon!
Although navigation can get a bit thought provoking some of the linear routes can get a bit "follow the leader" with lots of similar ability heading for the control, but dont always assume that as you may have 2 courses with 2 controls very close and so easy to mispunch!
on the SLMM a lot of the controls are manned hence you may have a tent or two to head to. unmaned and quiet controls would be no more than an orienteering kite to head to, hence can be difficult.
do the SLMM they are good fun. but be prepared to enter 6 months in advance.
Yeah I've seen people fall victim to the whole crowd 'intelligence' thing before when navigating. Last summer we went up Scafell pike from Wasdale and went up the Mickledore route. The weather was pretty awful and when we got to the top of Mickledore visibility was down to about 30 meters and there was a howling wind.
As it was summer there were loads of people around and as people turned left towards the summit from Mickledore the majority of them were happilly walking off along the grassy area towards the (dangerous) cliffs, whereas a quick glance at the compass told us we should be heading about 20 degrees to the right of that area. We warned some of them, went off ourselves the correct way and waited for the screams as they all followed each towards the cliffs like lemmings!
Lesson: don't trust other groups' navigation.
edit:I should add that we didn't realise how eroded the Mickledore route had become, and we wouldn't use it again. Apart from the damage it could cause it's also pretty dicey getting up there, more of a rock climb than a walk.
A lot of people get into longer distance events after trying out orienteering. It's not the orienteering season at the moment, but when things restart in the autumn, you should be able to find plenty of local events to enter. Events are cheap to enter and very informal. There is normally an easy course available for novices.
As has been said the Saunders is a good one to start with. Just don't fool yourself that it's summer so the conditions should be OK - yesterday's weather was almost the worst I've encountered on one of these events, with persistent rain and gale force winds, and cloud base around 500m or lower. Main main surprise looking at the results is that fewer people didn't drop out half way round!
With regard to your original question - no, walking isn't frowned on, there is a lot more walking done than running! My first event was the 2005 LAMM - we did the C class and despite walking throughout managed to finish about 20th, due to not getting lost. It's a bit of a truism, but you'll do far better by walking in the right direction than running in the wrong one! Hence, fitness isn't the main problem for most people, it's navigation.
Another event that's not been mentioned so far is the RAB, in September. It's unusual in that there are no linear courses, they're all Score (visit as many controls as you want in a fixed time). These have the advantage of allowing you to keep the day short if you want to. And the disadvantage that there are more decisions to make, and hence more chances of making mistakes!
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