For anyone not in the know, the OMM is a two-day mountain navigation race. Pairs have to remain self-sufficient throughout the event, carrying tent, food, spare clothing etc. There are about seven classes, and as I was partnered with a friend from my Hampshire Scout days who I’d not raced with before, we elected to race in the Medium Score category. Not too long, not too short. We would have six hours to gather as many checkpoints as possible on day one, then five hours on the second day.
Considerations before the race
There’s always a bit of fun to be had before the event to cut your kit down to the lightest possible, or the lightest you are willing to go with in terms of warmth/overnight comfort, while meeting the mandatory list requirements. Some highlights:
- Is it worth leaving behind a spare of of socks? (41g saving) Yes, but I’ll probably regret it on Sunday morning
- Can justify spending £450 on a new tent? (600g saving) No
- Balloon bed (100g) or bubble wrap (50g) to sleep on? Can’t find bubble wrap, so the luxury balloon bed it is
- Do I transfer my 2nd freezer dried dinner from an aluminium packet into a plastic bag? (20g saving) Getting bored now
- Trail food removed from individual wrappers (4g). OK, I’ve gone far enough
General thoughts from day one
- The forecast was for high winds, low cloud and rain most of the day. The forecast was right. It would be a good a day for good navigators.
- Unfortunately it turns out that micronavigation is a skill that needs to be regularly practiced to remain good at it.
- Fortunately it appears that I wasn’t the only one that needed more practice judging by the number of people we passed searching on the side of various slopes in 20m visibility
- The first half of the day went pretty smoothly, good route choice, good nav.
- Then we missed our first checkpoint and it wasn’t worth searching for too long as it was only worth 20 points. (It turns out this was the most debated checkpoint on the thrilling post-race Facebook chat)
- Then we overshot another, stupid mistake as it was supposed to be easy to find and we had switched off a little. 15 minutes lost.
- With two hours to go we reached the top of Swirl How, only to be blown over by the wind.
- It took another 15 minutes to find a checkpoint, 10m visibility. Should have trusted my 100m pacings and not turned off the path too early.
- We ended up being 18 minutes late back (36 point penalty), however we were rather surprised to be in 4th place at the end of the first day!
Everywhere was a bog, but we eventually found a flat spot that was acceptable. Just a shame it was the furthest point from the water tap. All things considered I had a reasonable night’s sleep.
General thoughts from day 2
- We were the chasing start at 07:09
- It was a totally different day to the day before. Clear blue skies. Perfect views. Definitely a day for the runners.
- We skipped a few early checkpoints and headed for the big pointers. All good except for one poor bearing, which led us down a crag and into losing too much height, 10 minutes lost.
- With around an hour to go, we pushed with just enough time to grab a juicy 50-pointer before the long downhill run to the finish, finishing with just four minutes to spare.
In the final results we caught one team in front, but were overtaken by two teams from behind to end up in 5th. I was happy with that and I think I actually enjoyed the entire weekend. It’s rare to experience type 1 run at these sorts of events, I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough.
Now, who fancies the Marmont Dark Mountains?