30th October
Carnethies at the OMM 2011

Well done to Jasmin Paris and Konrad Rawlik who were 1st mixed team (12th over all) in the Elite OMM.
Other Carnethy runners were Kim Threadgill (with Alistair Morris) who were 3rd mixed (15th over all) and Adrian Davis (with Alec Keith) who were 8th. Alec Erskine ended up in 14th place in the C-class running with Ian Hamilton.
Kate Darlow (running with Sarah Warren), showed supurb navigation skills to come 3rd female team in D class. Despite the weather, both enjoyed their run.
Ian Jackson's report
The OMM (previously KIMM) was back in Scotland this weekend for the first time since 2007 and I was back for my 18th start in the event. The event centre was Cultybraggan Camp, just south of Comrie from where we were bussed to the competion area to the north, which included Ben Chonzie and Creag Uchdag. We were promised tougher terrain than recent years and sure enough there was tussocky heather, heathery tussocks, peat hags, extensive marshes and the potential for big climbs.
Partnering Hugh Willison, we did our usual meader through the Medium Score class. The navigation was no problem, we hit every control spot on even through the low cloud and pretty much constant rain on Saturday.
The ageing legs were more of a problem which meant we opted out of a 300m+ climb for extra points at the end of the day, but which wouldsurely have put us into time penalty. As it was we were in 118th place of 218 at the end of day 1. The overnight camp site on the shore of Loch Lednock was the best OMM/KIMM site for years. Only the Short and Medium Score teams were there, so there was plenty of space and dry pitches were easy to find. The only downside was the constant loud hum from the hydro station. The rain cleared overnight and Sunday was dry, if still overcast. The straight-line distance from the camp to the finish was close to the 5 hour limit at our mountain marathon amble speed but a steep climb out of the camp and resumption of heather and tussocks made picking up the pace difficult. We collected controls along the slopes above Loch Lednock before we were saved by use of tracks and road winding between the out-of-bounds to get us to the finish area above Comrie in plenty of time. Many teams had severe time penalties so our conservative approach had some benefits, but we still dropped slightly to 129th of 206 finishers.
Huge respect to Jasmin, Konrad, Kim and Adrian for covering over 65Km and 4200m climb on such tough terrain in the Elite class.
John Mitchell and Angus Davidson's report
It all started in amusing fashion on Friday night when the team parked next to us reversed over their carton of milk spraying us, the car and the tent with all its creamy contents. No worries – there will be plenty of rain on Saturday to wash it off!
This time we had a shot at the A class rather than the C of previous years. Navigation in the mist was challenging and the wind and rain was almost constant. After 6 hours we still had many miles left to cover and food was getting low. On the way to checkpoint 7, we followed a number of other A class teams up the wrong stream. We were then left trying to find a small 30m hill top among a sea of peat hags in the mist, on what was supposed to be a plateau. We are still kicking ourselves about this as I remember doubting the route but thought surely all the other teams can’t be wrong! This leg took us two and a half hours but we later discovered that other teams never found the 7th checkpoint and dropped out. Indeed, the overall dropout rate for the A class was nearly a third. Day one had taken over 9 hours but somehow we were in 22nd position and the evening’s chicken curry tasted particularly fine. Better weather on day 2 and we started quickly to make up some positions. My dreaded IT band started to become painful on the descents but we were going along ok until another navigation error cost us further time. We had managed to make up more positions however, and are pleased with our final position of 16th out of 32 finishers.
Overall it was a very enjoyable albeit slightly humbling weekend. The location was beautiful with interesting terrain and lots of wildlife (plenty of deer and giant monster mountain hares). Lessons learnt: improve navigation, go your own route and don’t follow the wrong crowd, take more flap jack and be careful with those milk cartons.
Alec Erskine's report
Just to add to your list of Carnethy OMM finishers, I ended up in 14th place in the C-class running with Ian Hamilton.  

It was a pretty tough event for me, not having had much training and with the weather and the going very tough.  Luckily Ian's pinpoint navigation made us a lot of time and even though we were slowing drastically for the last hour or so, we were pleasantly surprised to make the top 15.  The lesson for me is not to be too stingy on spare clothes - the second day is a lot easier after a comfortable night.
Kim Threadgall's report

The last time I did a mountain marathon was the OMM 2006 which was a completely different experience to this year’s race.  At that point I had started doing a few adventure races but I was mainly a road runner and squash player so it was an epic event for me. 

At that point I entered the B Class with my friend Fiona Williams and between us we had very limited experience of navigating and I remember us being absolutely delighted with our result having made it to the campsite before the cut off point, it was such an adventure, crossing through rivers and getting lost in the mist….  fast forward 5 years and it was time to do it again.

This time I paired up with FGS team mate Alistair Morris.  Although we have been in the same team for a couple of years it was to be our first race together.  We agreed to do the OMM and he said that we should enter the elite class.  I agreed (not really thinking anything about it) but then I started to tell people what I was doing and more often than not was met with gasps of surprise/shock/horror even?

Okay so out of all the classes the elite category is supposed to be the toughest but as Ali was taking on the navigation I decided that it would be fine and as Alistair said ‘the whole race is a rest…we walk up the hills and run down the hills – easy!’.

Saturday morning arrived and as is always the case on the OMM weekend it was raining….and it basically stayed like that until Sunday morning.  However, when you do the OMM it is generally accepted that the weather will be poor.  We had a start time of 8.05 am and off we went in to the hills! 

Alistair led the way and I basically just followed him all weekend….we ran and walked over every type of terrain imaginable, tussocks, heather, rivers, bogs, the odd path and lots of mud.  We climbed up and ran down some big and small hills and we contoured around so many hills that my feet were hurting by the end of the weekend but the variety of the course kept it interesting at all times.

Alistair is a very good navigator and a faster runner than me so I can’t remember actually getting much of a rest at any point!  When the mist was low he enjoyed it almost as much as when it was clear and as soon as we hit the check points he was already telling me where to go next.  I feel very privileged to have raced with such good navigators over the last few years who make it look so easy!

7 hours and 44 minutes later we arrived at the campsite and I must admit we were both pretty cold by this point.  The rain hadn’t stopped all day and our clothes couldn’t have been any wetter.  We pitched the tent straight away and got changed in to warm clothes before tucking in to some soup.  After lying down for an hour we then made our main meal, walked about for a bit to look at the results and then went back to the tent.  We basically stayed there for the rest of the night as it was the warmest place to be!  Ali pulled out some whisky which I had a couple of sips of while we blew up 14 balloons to make up our balloon beds..…

I should say at this point the objective of the weekend is to be completely self reliant so you don’t arrive at campsite and expect to be given lots of hot food and showers while you relax and rub your legs down for the next days run.  The aim is to get around the course as fast as possible and if you carry everything but the kitchen sink with you it will slow you down too much.  At night time we slept in the running kit we would be wearing the following day and apart from food, stove, tent and sleeping bags we carried nothing else apart from the usual mandatory kit such as survival blankets, whistle etc.

It also means that if something happens to you when you are out on the course you should be able to look after yourself until the organisers realise you need help which at the latest is 5pm the following day!

Sunday morning arrived and thankfully it was a much drier day.  It was similar to yesterday in terms of terrain but it was slightly shorter so it took us 6 hours and 27 minutes and as a result our total time was 14 hours and 12 minutes.  We finished 3rd in the mixed pairs category and 17th overall in the elite class out of 45 teams who started.  The overall winning team won it in 10 hours 56 minutes and were only 13 seconds ahead of the second place finishers…first mixed team took 13 hours and 6 minutes.

It was a great weekend, we both had a great time and were pleased with our result.  I really can’t wait to do another mountain marathon…a summer marathon would be nice but as this is Scotland it doesn’t exactly guarantee nicer weather!

Jasmin Paris and Konrad Rawlik's report -Elite Class

It was with excitement and on my part a little trepidation that we arrived at the 2011 OMM
base camp, in Cultybraggan military barracks near Crieff on Friday evening. Somehow
Konrad had convinced me several months earlier to run the elite class with him [Konrad: more
impressively I had managed to convince myself that doing the OMM would be a good idea]
, and I had no idea what to expect, having run only two ‘pleasant weather’ B class mountain
marathons in the past….

Our cunning plan of making the short drive across in the morning, after a good nights sleep
in our beds at home, was thwarted by an unreasonably early start time and waking to the
sound of rain hammering on the tent roof on Saturday morning was a portent of what was
to come. The day hardly dawned at all; at best the sky went from black to dark grey. After
an invigorating walk up to the start - following the adventure route through the undergrowth,
rather then the more sensible option along the forest road every subsequent bus load
seems to have been directed on - and some confusion at the start due to the lack of initial
synchronisation between different marshall’s watches, we were eventually send off. We were
the first Elite team to start, with the Fjellstads - Jo & Wendy from Norway - who Sam Hestling
and internet sources had designated (mixed) race favorites, starting 2 minutes behind us.
It quickly became apparent that the ground we would cover was fairly rough with a lot of
heather and the, for an OMM obligatory, bog in it’s various incarnations - from obviously
deep to deceptivly shallow, with large & small tussocks and of muddy-water to watery-mud
consistency, it was all there, plus some thick fields of reeds which were a novelty. Still, we
were rewarded with some cracking mountain descents over springy turf, and when we came
across small trods, they always were a joy.

The Eilte course headed out from the start near St. Fillian towards Killin, before a long pull
eastwards to the overnight camp in Glen Almond. Before the event it had been made clear
by me that Konrad was to have main responsibility for navigation, a decision which, as
everyone who knew Konrad made clear to me, was likely to result in taking a more scenic
tour of the competition area then strictly necessary. However we managed to get off to a
good start over the first couple of controls before some poor route choices started creeping
in, leading to the sudden mid-leg appearance of the Scandinavians. Wendy and Jo proved
to be very consistent, running in tight formation - necessitated by the use of a bungee - they
moved with great efficiency at a constant pace, picking good lines and they obviously were
an experienced team. We on the other hand, had shunned the bungee [Konrad: I wanted
to avoid the humiliation of being dragged along] and our performance was slightly more
erratic, with both of us having poor patches, which luckily were quickly overcome with some
homemade Flapjack. Overall we ran relatively close together until the final checkpoints, when
we managed to sprint away, limiting our deficit for day one to 1 minute 31 seconds.

The weather limited social interaction at the midway camp, but the conversations coming from
surrounding tents offered ample entertainment for the afternoon, while the disqualification and
subsequent reinstatement, albeit with time penalty, of the leading Elite team provided some
drama. Dinner consisted of smash with stock cubes, gruyere cheese and dried sausage,
followed by custard and Konrad’s magic homemade flapjack [Konrad: n.b. not my words]
. Eventually I [Konrad: i.e. one of us] wrapped up in a warm sleeping bag [Konrad: a luxury
apparently offset by running in shorts on both days, although this doesn’t seem to stack up as
I was in shorts as well] and we fell asleep accompanied by the occasional sound of a popping
balloon bed, and woke to the sound of bagpipes welcoming in the next day.

Although we had missed the main chasing start by 9 minutes, separate chasing starts for
the mixed and female teams had been added this year, which made for an exciting initial
ten minutes as we raced to catch-up the deficit from the previous day, not to mention the
privilege of (very temporarily) running alongside the top Elite pairs. We gradually pulled ahead
of Wendy and Jo, and ran alone for the remainder of the day. Again any major navigational
errors managed to be avoided [Konrad: sometimes more through luck then design] and
although the course led us frustratingly close to the summit of Ben Chonzie, we avoided the
temptation of bagging this Munro and pushed on, enjoying a steep descent to the checkpoint
below. Given the intermittent thick mist of the day, we had no idea as we ran through the final
checkpoints whether we were still the leading mixed team. The marshals at the finish were
similarly uncertain, and it wasn’t until our competition appeared some 21 minutes later that
the question was answered.

Overall an excellent weekend, almost entirely fun (99%), very well organised, involving lots of
wilderness and a very pleasant atmosphere all round. I have to admit though – my feet and
legs hurt on Monday!

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