Monday, 21 March 2016


Marmot Dark Mountains

That was proper hard.  Mike and I sat shell-shocked and weary, after 12 hours and 14 minutes of Marmot Dark Mountaining. Gazing into space, with 1000 yard stares. We had both decided 'never again'. Strangely, after just one week both of us had started thinking about entering, Dark Mountains 2017.

Marmot Dark Mountains(MDM) has been going since 2013 and like other mountain marathons,  is a mountain navigation event. The big difference is, 1.that it is in Winter and 2. we had to race through the night.

Being navigationally challenged, I probably wouldn't have entered, until Mike got in touch and said 'shall we'? We had not raced as a team before, but  had bumped into each other on a few other events. I said yes as I know, Mike is a good navigator and most importantly, we got on with each other. A big, if not the biggest consideration, when choosing team-mates.

The question was would we still get on, after a long winters night, in the hills?........

Some interesting kit choices.
 He said it was for the marshals
30th of January 2016, 22:30 hrs. We collect maps and head out, into the cold windy night. We make our first mistake, almost strait away. A wrong turn, before we have even got out of the village. Ho hum! All we can do is laugh it off and crack on.
After that embarrassing faux pas, the first 3 controls are easy enough to find. I am guessing the course planner, planned this, to ease us into the event.
Control #3 to #4 was a different matter. We fail miserably to follow a bearing and completely missed the re-entrant, we were aiming for. At this point I would normally have spat my dummy and given up.
Fortunately Mike is made of sterner stuff. Unlike me, he can navigate properly and knows how to re-locate*.

Onwards and upwards. Control #5. Straightforward, follow the path to Skiddaw House. Control #6 straightforward but very steep and a bit slippery. Splat! The face-plant was fast, probably the fastest I move all night (Note to self; it's icy).
#7 went well. #8 starts well, then we have another diversion. To be fair, we are up on the fell tops and the weather has changed.

Cue-  Benny Hill music
It is now snowing, switching to hail then back to snow again and as you would expect at 600 meters up it is much draughtier (check out the Event video).
 We miss the path, that we were aiming for. After realising something is wrong, we loop back on track. Mike's relocation skills save the day( night?), again.
At this point, the snow is blowing strait into my eyes. It hurts. Thankfully, I have brought my new reading glasses. Middle age myopia, saves the day. It's blurry but I can see enough to follow Mike.
We climb up onto the hilltop, where control 8 should be, scan round 360 degrees. No control. We lower our gaze. Amusingly, the control kite is almost touching distance. Big up to Mike's Navigation again.

Mike leads the way again. Contouring around, to control #9. A quick paddle in the river (Thanks Charlie) and a climb, up to  #10 at Lingy Hut.

We have been out so long that it is now daylight, making the rest of the nav straightforward. Even for me. Just a long slog back, via the last four controls. It is less than 10k, but becomes a cruel, grind and even I no longer find my crap jokes funny.

At last we reach Mungrisdale and the finish line. A marshal hands us both,  a much needed hot cuppa and thankfully we can stop. Wow! that was hard. We are both totally, kippered! No euphoria, just relief that it is over. We finish, dead last, in our class and only just before the course closed but at least we finish.

One week later, Mike and I remember Marmot Dark Mountains as, a fun night out. A month or so later, Mike has put an entry in, for Marmot dark mountains 2017. Nuff said.

A BIG THANK YOU to all the Marmot dark mountains team. 
See you next year.

Links to:

Event video

Race Directors report

Marmot Dark Mountains 2017 Entries Early bird discount, before September 2016

Results and link to GPS tracks

Competitor blogs:

Team JMC uk

The Adventure Emporium

Cat Slater

JP Speaks

Haydn Williams

 *Unfortunately, while relocating on the way to #4 we clipped an out of bounds area. We reported this to the RO as soon as we finished. Magnanimously, the RO did not disqualify us. See Race Directors report. Thank you Shane.