Tuesday, 12 June 2012

LAMM 2012 - Beinn Mhic Monaidh

For Saturday - click here.

Sunday start:

I mentioned the midges enough in my last post and won't labour the point here. Suffice to say, a few handfuls of dry oats inside our tent, and we were packed and off by 6:10 without a backward look at camp. (We were permitted to start earlier than others thanks to taking 9 hours on Saturday). Today's route: back up the glen we had come down last night to Beinn Larachan, over to the place marked Sligeanach (shielings) on the map, most of the way up but then off to the side of Beinn Mhic Monaidh, down to the forest above Glen Orchy, up and round again to the side of Beinn Donachain, over to the other side of the same hill, then steeply down to the base camp. The initial ascent was unpleasant, the runners before us having woken the midges who feasted on our glowing faces. The cloud was down too, which could have made for testing navigation, but in the end it merely flirted with the tops. We incorrectly aimed slightly off for the first checkpoint, having to drop downhill a bit to find it, runners everywhere as the B and C courses converged. It was exciting to see the competitors in the chasing start with their numbers on, especially when a higher number passed us before the lower did. The chase was on! "Just as well we don't have numbers too," I said to Graham, "or I would be pushing on to overtake C111!" We plodded on in our anonimity, and goggled to see two runners tied together, fore and aft, with string - presumably for the purpose of the stronger front running pulling the weaker rear runner along, but it looked like a good way to cause a slip.


Beinn a'Chuirn was an unbagged Marilyn, and after we laboured up to its shoulder I dropped my pack and ran up and back to claim a tick, feeling feather-light without my rucksack. "I think I packed wrongly for this event!" said Graham, who perhaps had the heaviest pack in the entire race. I thought of last night's bottle of wine and saluted his sacrifice.

On the way up Beinn Mhic Monaidh we ground practically to a halt, running on empty. Dry oats had been no substitute for a Wilf's breakfast, and we stopped early for lunch. Nobody was running at this point. Anyone who has never seen a mountain marathon might harbour the idea that everybody runs the entire thing, carrying nothing but a bumbag, tiny wee shorts, a handful of barley sugars and a cheeky smile, but apart from the very fastest nobody ran uphill (a little downhill trot was another matter). There is not much running on a mountain marathon. Just very fast walking, and as little stopping as possible. I grumbled unmanfully about the course at this point. Having looked at the map the night before and worked out a lovely potential route, I wondered what sort of sadist would send us on a day of mid-altitude bumbling over peat hags and tussocky ground? And what sort of masochist would sign up to it? Orienteering is a crazy thing to do. Aiming for a small, distant target, with hazards defending the route, and frustration on getting close to the targets but missing them? Orienteering is golf on a bigger scale. But then, just before the subsidiary top on Beinn Mhic Monaidh, we contoured round and hit checkpoint 3 dead on. Satisfaction. Getting to checkpoint 5 was going to be unpleasant, but after that we could coast downhill all the way.

Graham on top of the last ascent of the day:

We dropped down to checkpoint 4, where a kind gentleman opened a bag of jelly babies and offered us some. Fortified, we made the best time of the day, and the last ascent was, surprisingly, the easiest. I had been worried about how my knee would hold out but, perhaps thanks to the exercises I have been doing in Chris Highcock's Hillfit download, I ended the day stronger than when we started. By the time we reached the summit of Beinn Donachain to take a bearing to checkpoint 5 the crowds had dispersed, and the day seemed for the first time like a normal hillwalk. Just us and the bogs and the mist. I spotted an antler and Graham an entire deer skeleton. There were plenty deer about, spooked as this unfashionable hillside sees very few walkers and today there were hundreds.

A nice wee bog orchid to end the day.

Did we enjoy ourselves? Occasionally. Will we do it again? Perhaps, if the organisers will have us. We learned a lot about preaparation and packing that would stand us in good stead for future races. Many thanks to the organisers, volunteers, Arrochar MRT and their collie - and the poor sods who are probably at this very moment dismantling the marquee at base camp, midges getting their last LAMM bonanza of the year!


Chris said...

Hi there

Small world. Graham used to be my next door neighbour and I noticed on Facebook that he had done the LAMM. I congratulated him via FB and said I'd read about it this year and pointed him to this blog....upon which he said that he had done it with the guy who wrote the blog. Nice one!

Chris (http://cairn-in-the-mist.blogspot.co.uk/)

Robert Craig said...

Small world indeed, Edinburgh is like that though! Hopefully see you soon, on Allermuir Hill perhaps?