Last weekend I took part in the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM), writes Richard Pigott. The OMM (www.theomm.com), is a 2-day Mountain event, held in a different region across the UK every year. This year it was based in the Langdale valley in the Lake District. Undertaken in pairs, the event tests each team’s fitness, equipment, navigational skill and ability to traverse mountainous terrain in safety, over a period of two days. From the start to the finish on the second day, including the overnight camp, the team is a self-sufficient unit, responsible for its own safety and well-being. Outside help cannot be sought or accepted, unless the team has retired or is seeking help in an emergency. The only provisions at the overnight camp are drinking water and portaloos!
I have done this event on 3 previous occasions but I have never seen such bad weather as we had on Saturday. The cloud was low, reducing visibility on the hills to around 50m and gale force winds and rain made the conditions treacherous to say the least. My race partner Iain and I entered the A class – of 73 starters only 10 pairs actually completed the course. We were not amongst them, having taken around 6 hours to get half way round the course. At that point we decided it was an impossible task so headed to the overnight camp in a field at the foot of Hardknott Pass and pitched our tent. As the OMM is always held the weekend the clocks go back it makes a cold and uncomfortable night just that little bit longer.
Thankfully, we woke on Sunday morning to blue skies and wonderful long-distance views. The weather forecasters had got it right and we were rewarded with a glorious day out in the hills. Our route of around 20 miles skirted around the western side of Scafell Pike and afforded wonderful views across the whole of the Lake District. When we had finally visited all 11 checkpoints we descended back down a steep slope into the Langdale valley and finished in a time of 7 hours and 37 minutes.
A lot of people, including loved ones and colleagues, ask why I do it. I guess I love the great outdoors and the feeling that you are at the mercy of the elements. As well as the obvious physical challenge, the navigation also provides a real mental challenge… almost as tough as navigating the planning system one could argue! Bring on the 2018 event.
Richard Pigott, Director at Planning & Design Practice
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