Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon Reports

  LAMM A Course Report - Saturday got off to a reasonable start for both of us. Although it was very warm, the good visibility aided navigation and our late start meant that we met very few other teams out on the course, which was great when compared to the regimented lines encountered on the OMM last year. A steady pace saw us work our way through the controls without too much fuss although our 'go over rather than around' strategy meant that by the end of the day our total ascent was significantly more than the 2100m shown on the course details. The only low point was the slog up the final glen to the distant midcamp through thick tussocks which were impossible to run on. At midcamp we were in 26th place.
Sunday was a different matter. Rain and thick cloud slowed us quite a bit although we still got through the controls at a steady pace, trading places with a few other teams as the day progressed.
The eighth checkpoint was at the top of a hill not far from the event centre and by the time we got there we were ahead of the other teams who had been around us to that point. Only two checkpoints to go, and only one of those on the hill. Number nine was a stream junction around the 420m contour, should be easy enough to find on the way down to the finish. After what seemed like an eternity we had found quite a few stream junctions but none had the elusive kite. The thick cloud meant that we had to drop down a considerable height to try to get some sort of lock on our location, however this didn't really help and as time went by we eventually had to concede to the clock and head off the hill.
This was our first attempt at the A course and overall quite pleased with how the weekend went. It's just a pity that after 18 hours of running we fell at the last hurdle - close but no cigar this time.
All in all a great event which for now has been filed under 'Unfinished Business'

Cameron Scott & Gregor Heron

Elite woes on LAMM Day 2 - the day it was not meant to be. Fifth overnight, a good result after a hard day on Saturday under a blistering sun. We started strong, by checkpoint 1 we had caught Dan Gay and Al Anthony who were in 4th place overnight. By checkpoint 2 we were thundering through the first half of the course with Dan and Al hot on our heels and defending our fourth place in fine style. We made checkpoint 3 look easy, with Andy picking a perfect height for us to contour round the mountain and me picking the perfect line on which to descend straight onto it. We dropped off checkpoint 3 and were racing down a burn to checkpoint 4 when we practically mowed down the 3rd place Elite team - we had stepped up to third place and thoughts of a podium finish began to form while flying over the rough ground, racing, smiling, high on race induced adrenaline and getting banter with Dan and Al. It was awesome.

With Dan and Al we raced across the moorland in thick mist before slowing up knowing we must be close to checkpoint 4, and not wanting to over-run it eased up on the pace. Dan and Al went their own way, and to great success. But to us cp 4 was nowhere to be found, invisible, intangible even - we searched, and searched and searched but could not find the orange and white kite on the bleak plateaux. Precious fruitless minutes turned into a full blown heart pounding panic which turned into a soul destroying and strength sapping eternity knowing we had blown it, and still had a long way to go before finishing. After almost 50 minutes of running, taking bearings, counting paces, shouting at the gods, getting colder by the minute in the incessant driving rain and stewing in a turmoil of race induced emotion checkpoint 4 was found and we wound ourselves up for the run home....

Sam Hesling


A Class - Jacqui and Steven - Day 1. Saturday saw glorious conditions at the event centre in Glen Fyne. We were whisked away to Arrochar where Andy Spenceley started us off. Up the line of the old railway to CP1 below Beinn Narnain and over to the southern shoulder of The Cobbler for CP2 presented no problems. The terrain on the way to the col beyond Beinn Ime began to test runners' route choices - we took the easier up-and-over approach and gained on some other teams that had taken the contour route over rougher ground. The next check point was just beyond Ben Vorlich, which meant a haul up and over Ben Vane to Sloy Dam, then directly up Ben Vorlich - if you've done the Arrochar Alps hill race, then you'll know how steep and long this is. We went strong up this, overtaking some A teams and ticked of CP4 and CP5 in quick succession. Down, then up and over another shoulder, we aimed for a lochan on Meall an Fhudair. Route-planner Andy Spenceley was teasing us, he'd taken us close to some summits, but not to the tops and this was one Corbett I'd still to bag - another day ! Down the other side, one more CP ticked and then a run over tussocky ground to the finish and mid-camp, which we could see for miles and never seemed to get any closer for ages ! I noticed a track just above us and suggested we took it - neither of us were keen for anymore uphills, but the effort paid off for a quick run to the last CP. Day 1 was over, but why was Jacqui still running ? Just showing off ? Nope, stupid me, we still had to reach the finish line and dib !
Mid camp was a wild location 400m above sea-level at the head of glens Shira and Fyne. A slight breeze kept the midges away and the runners bantered, tucked into their noodles, cous-cous and powdered drinks and stretched tight bodies. England's first match in the World Cup was taking place and a huge group of runners (English, I'm guessing) huddled around a blaring car radio. We found out we were currently in 5th position (1st mixed and 2nd vets), so with an early rise for the chasing start, off to bed before 9pm, ear-plugs firmly inserted !
Overnight, drizzle had set in and the breeze had stalled, which meant one thing - midges ! The best escape was to head for one of the port-a-loos. At the chasing start, several teams set off in the same direction in quick succession. We navigated our ways through the mist and over the tussocky ground. Teams were beginning to head in different directions, some making fine route choices, others getting totally lost. We stuck to our bearings and ticked off the checkpoints without any problems. We lost team A6, then A4 later on while climbing a minor summit on Beinn Bhuidhe, we'd been over taken by A7, and met A1 and A3 (or so we thought) in the mist before the last climb, but never saw A2 at all - basically, we had no idea how we were placed, but we thought we were still in with a chance of a top 5 position. The last descent through deep ferns on very steep terrain was a challenge, bums hitting the ground as often as feet. We approached the finish and I suggested, since there were no other A teams around, we could walk (joking of course). Jacqui gave me one of her teacher frowns - she was having no slacking ! We'd made up two places and finished 3rd overall, 1st mixed and 1st vets. Really chuffed were we, but with the effort we'd just put in, food was the main thing on our minds.

Photos here

Steven Fallon




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