The Dark Mountains is a relatively new event having only started in 2013 and essentially combines the two days of a traditional mountain marathon such as The OMM into one continuous overnight event. This year it was held in the Howgills and Kevin Drew and myself thought this would be a good sharpener of our navigating skills in preparation for this years mountain marathons. However driving up that Saturday in the dark, cold January night the scale of the task ahead started to loom over us and its fair to say that as we sat in the working mens club in Tebay waiting for our start time we were more than a bit nervous, especially considering that neither of us a particularly brilliant navigators and have done next to no night navigating before. Given this our tactic was to forget about a high placing and be extra diligent with our map reading, and it seemed to work well, as we found all 13 of the checkpoints with relatively few mistakes, and the 8 hours and 20+ miles of running seemed to fly by (minus a few sleep deprived lows…). The event itself was brilliantly organised and the course we did (C) was a very well thought out with just the right level of difficulty for someone doing this event for the first time. The terrain and the weather were also relatively kind on us, with the Howgills being largely, grassy, runnable terrain, albeit with some very steep sided slopes thrown in and the weather on the night been relatively calm, dry and visible, with mist confined to hills above 400m.
We ended up winning our class by over an hour and a half which was quite a surprise and was probably testament to our extra diligence with the map and compass (an altimeter also proved a very handy piece of kit). Certainly an event I’d recommend to anyone who likes this kind of thing and one that will be a regular in my running diary from now on. Full results can be found here –