RESULTS

REPORTS

CONTROLLER'S REPORT

OMM 2012 Reports

Controller’s Comments Steve Willis.
I was really pleased to be asked to control this year’s event in the Howgills as it’s a beautiful area that is often passed on the way to the Lake District and I had hardly been back since 1998. It was brilliant to spend a week in June checking control sites then the week before the event putting out and checking controls followed by a perfect OMM weekend. Beautiful and clear on Saturday which favoured the runners but everyone could appreciate the hills and dry overnight campsite, followed by a dull wet Sunday which tested your navigation and determination. We even had a lovely Monday morning to collect the few remaining controls.
Thanks to Jen for organising a brilliant event, Roger for co-ordinating the event so thoroughly and Jeff for planning 16 excellent courses. Thanks also to the many helpers in Sedburgh and on the hills who made the event possible especially Pete Crosby and Barry Macdonald.
Jeff got the course lengths right this year with plenty of route choice for all competitors and I’ll leave it to him to comment on the courses but all of the controls were in the right place and all of the boxes worked. A small number of competitors had to be disqualified for visiting the wrong controls. I have done it in the past and it is very disappointing so please make sure that you check the code. However, there was another problem with 18 teams using the bridleway which was only meant as a corridor for retiring teams to get to the finish. It was clearly marked (although an extra sign at the north end would have been a good idea) but we have decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and re-instate them as non-competitive teams so that they receive their certificates.
Congratulations to all of the winners and thanks to all of you for taking part and making our efforts worthwhile. Hope to see you somewhere in Wales next October.
Steve Willis

PLANNER'S REPORT

Planners Report – Jeff Harris

This year’s map covered two quite distinct areas of terrain bisected by the A684; to the West, The Howgills ancient slates and sandstones typically weathered into domed hills with steep sides, and to the East; Wild Boar Fell, Swarth Fell and Baugh Fell with gentler more boggy slopes on their West side down to the A684 and steep escarpments to the East, sandstone and limestone on their flanks with a plateau of millstone grit.

I last competed in the event in 1995 at The Brecon Beacons and I have been involved with the Planning Team since The Cheviots in 2002, when I was asked to plan this year’s event The Howgills was not an area that I was very familiar with, however over the last year I have had some fantastic days out in the area, Sedbergh and The Howgills really are hidden gems too often in the shadow of the Lake District.

In planning the courses I tried to give all competitors the opportunity to sample both parts of the area, given the constraints of getting the competitors back to the finish on the shorter linear courses these courses didn’t use much of the area to the East of the A684, however all the Score courses had the option to visit both areas. My objectives were to introduce as much route choice as and where possible and looking at Rouge Gadget it is interesting to see which routes competitors took, also to spread competitors out across the fell and minimise “crocodiles”.

The weekend like the terrain turned out to be two quite distinct parts or to use football parlance “a game of two halves” in terms of the weather, sunny and dry on Saturday, misty and wet on Sunday. On Saturday morning I walked up onto the fells above the start just below Arant Haw, in glorious sunshine it was great to see everyone spread out across the fells heading off in different directions.

It is only when you get involved “behind the scenes” that you really appreciate what a huge logistical event the OMM is, Jen and her teams do a magnificent job I can’t name them all but they know who they are and they all deserve a big pat on the back. I will however mention some individuals who help me as planner; Steve & Roger for their calm control, help and advice; Pete, Barry & Julie for their help putting out and checking controls in the week before the event; and last but by no means least Ann, who not only helped on the fells but feed us all week, thanks to you all I couldn’t have done it without you.

Many thanks for the positive comments received over the weekend and after the event, especially those finishing in the dark on Saturday and in the rain on Sunday who still managed to smile and comment that they enjoyed the courses; it really does make you feel that all your efforts have been worthwhile.

I hope you all enjoyed taking part in the event as much as I did planning it.

Hope to see you next year, somewhere in Wales.

Coordinators Report.

COORDINATOR'S REPORT

This is the 10th year that I have been involved in the organisation of the event and my sixth year as Controller or Coordinator. Each year has its own characteristics, its own problems and its own special memories.
This year was the most satisfying so far: excellent cooperation from landowners and graziers/commoners and also from Sedbergh School and the town; beautiful weather on Saturday and more challenging weather on Sunday; a glorious afternoon at the overnight campsite with unforgettable views over the Howgill Fells; very little anxiety from late or missing teams and only one real casualty – a case of hypothermia that developed in the Event HQ on Sunday afternoon.
The results are interesting. The winners’ times for the Linear Courses match the target times. But there are then only a handful of teams with times close to that, before a very large gap starts to show – Two or more hours behind the winners. Does this mean the winners are on the wrong course? That they should have been on a longer course and therefore the course is too long? ( I don’t believe they were on the wrong course. They are all young people-apart from Quentin- who should work their way up through the classes as their skills and strength develop) Or does it mean that most people have entered a course that is too long for them? Or are competitors looking for the challenge of a long course and are quite happy to be significantly slower than the winners? The planner can only work on past results and design the course for a specified winners time.
The Score Courses show a larger number of teams in contention at the top of the results.
Looking at routes for the C Class on Route gadget, it is interesting that most people have taken the same route for the optional controls (choose 5 from 8). Clearly there is a best route, but the skill lies in spotting it.
So, all that remains is for me to give my thanks to everyone in the team. Particularly the Planning Team, but also the bigger OMM team, who all pull together to make the event work so well, and also the competitors – always cheerful and enthusiastic. Without you it would be a waste of time.

Pre-Event ECOLOGICAL REVIEW 2012

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ECOLOGICAL REVIEW

Howgill Fells 2012

Every year, OMM events are located in upland areas of great scenic beauty that often contain features of major biodiversity value and importance. Occasionally, the features that provide this interest can be vulnerable to the wear and tear that may result from the passage of several thousand OMM competitors. The risk of ecological damage is given careful consideration during early stages in the course setting process for an OMM event and every effort is made to avoid areas of particular ecological sensitivity. For competitors who would like to extend this consideration of ecological risk to their personal route selection choices this note outlines the general nature conservation interest of the 2012 competition area, and provides advice on how competitors’ route choices could help to further avoid the risk of ecological disturbance.

The 2012 OMM event area is located within the Howgill Fells region of the north Pennines, an area of varied sedimentary geology with strongly glaciated landforms that supports a variety of vegetation types. To the west is an area of the Pennines that includes extensive tracts of upland landscape of national and international nature conservation importance. Many of the distinctive wildlife habitats and vegetation types that characterise these significant areas extend into the 2012 OMM event area. Many features of nature conservation interest within the event area at most risk of significant disturbance are located within areas out of bounds to competitors.

Elsewhere, the 2012 courses all pass through areas that contain various features of nature conservation interest, including various types of grassland, heather moorland, blanket bog, limestone pavement, streams and rivers. These features are considered in the following sections of this note.

  • Dry acid grassland is a widespread vegetation type within the Howgill Fells, formed where centuries of livestock grazing has converted heather moorland to open grassland. These areas provide a relatively robust vegetation type that can generally withstand the trampling effects of fell running.
  • Areas of wet acid grassland will be encountered on courses where impeded drainage occurs within relatively level areas or where groundwater emerges at the surface as seepages across more steeply sloping ground. Wet acid grassland can be of special nature conservation interest, in particular where groundwater seepages provide conditions for communities of specialised mosses, liverworts and other plants. These vegetation types can be vulnerable to persistent disturbance effects of trampling and should ideally be avoided wherever possible by selecting routes that keep to dry acid grassland to by-pass wet grassland patches.
  • Wet acid grassland at groundwater seepages on steep ground can be difficult to avoid where they cross valuable contouring lines. Avoidance of these areas could involve a significant route change and deviation from the desired contour level. Despite this, it would be ideal if damage to seepage zone vegetation could be minimised, often located within shallow gulleys, re-entrant features or associated with ground level rock outcrops that cross steep slopes.
  • Dry calcareous grassland is a localised vegetation type within the event area, occurring as hill pasture over limestone. This vegetation type is often accompanied by low rock outcrops and scree slopes as it typically occurs on hill sides rather than within valleys or on hill tops. Dry calcareous grassland within the north Pennines is an important vegetation type, and includes several uncommon plant species. The vegetation typically forms on relatively shallow soils and as such can be quickly eroded by trampling. Some of the highest quality grassland of this type develops on shallow soils over limestone rock outcrops and within areas of limestone scree and as such are especially vulnerable to erosion. Care should be taken with route selection through areas with grassland, limestone rock outcrops and scree to avoid excessive vegetation wear, especially when negotiating vegetated outcrops and scree.
  • On hillsides, soil movements within dry calcareous grassland areas can develop well-defined micro- terrace systems, often referred to as sheep walks. These typically follow the contours and can provide extremely useful running lines. Grassland vegetation at the edge of these micro-terraces is often friable and easily broken off. Care should be taken when using these features for contouring to avoid running on the edge of these terraces to minimise grassland damage.

ECOLOGICAL REVIEW

The Howgill Fells, 2012

  • Heather moorland is a widespread vegetation type that extends across substantial areas of the high level dissected plateau of the Howgill Fells. These areas mostly comprise vegetation on relatively well-drained soils and can sustain relatively high levels of trampling. Where courses cross heather moorland across sloping ground there is a greater risk of trampling damage to vegetation, especially where well-used routes that cause corridors of soil erosion create a risk of gulley formation.
  • Blanket bog is an important and widespread feature of many part of the high dissected plateau of the event area. Many of these areas comprise degraded blanket bog where peat hags (erosion gulleys) have formed where bog vegetation has been lost and the underlying peat is being eroded. Vegetation loss may have been caused by a variety of factors in the past such as air pollution, moorland management with burning and drainage, but the resulting loss of peat and blanket bog vegetation is a major conservation management issue for the north Pennines. In many cases, the bare peat exposed in hags may have become stabilised, allowing a slow recovery of blanket bog vegetation that will help to eventually halt the loss of peat through erosion.
  • Disturbance of recovering blanket bog by runners churning through the peat hags has the potential to trigger further peat erosion by de-stabilising the peat surface. Wherever possible, route choices in these areas should try to link the strips and patches of surviving moorland vegetation between the peat hags. These are often quite well-drained, providing areas of relatively robust vegetation and resistant to the trampling effects of running. If crossing peat hags is unavoidable, routes should try to link cushions of remnant moorland vegetation as ‘stepping stones’ across the bare peat surfaces. In some situations, the extent of peat erosion has been sufficient to expose the bedrock and glacial material underlying the peat. Running on this material is unlikely to cause significant harm to recovering peat surfaces.
  • In contrast to areas of degraded blanket bog, some locations on plateau landforms and broad ridges within the event area contain patches of high quality blanket bog with an intact vegetation surface that lack eroding peat hags. These are typified by areas of wet heath vegetation interspersed with shallow pools, often associated with luxuriant Sphagnum mosses. These areas often comprise a mosaic of vegetation types that will include slightly raised areas of better drained peat with slightly drier heather moorland vegetation. These will be far less vulnerable to disturbance through vegetation damage by trampling and should ideally be selected when making route choices for running through these areas.
  • Limestone pavement is present at one location within the event area, providing a feature of considerable nature conservation importance. The main ecological interest within this area is associated with communities of mosses, ferns and other plants that utilise the special microclimate of deep cracks (grykes) within the limestone pavement. Their location deep within the limestone pavement will ensure that they are protected from disturbance by runners. Occasionally, patches of limestone grassland are present on the surface of the pavement and these are extremely vulnerable to disturbance from runners, and should be avoided when selecting routes across the limestone pavement area. In addition to their botanical interest, limestone pavements are of considerable geological interest. Weathering the limestone surface has formed a variety of finely sculpted rock flutings and runnels with friable edges that could be easily snapped off when running across the pavements. This risk should be considered when selecting routes in the limestone pavement area.
  • The event area contains a complex network of streams and rivers, some of which are potentially vulnerable to ecological disturbance from repeated crossing by runners. In particular, streams within the Pennines that pass through areas of limestone bedrock have the potential to support valuable populations of a highly protected aquatic invertebrate species called the White Clawed Crayfish. This animal is generally inactive during the day, and if present during the OMM will be sheltering in burrows excavated into stream margins. Wherever possible, stream crossings should avoid sliding down banks into streams to avoid the potential for disturbing Crayfish that might be sheltering at the stream margins. There are locations within the 2012 event area where watercourses have created features of special geomorphological interest. Most of these features should be fairly robust in terms of vulnerability to disturbance from the passage of runners, but streams with loose shingle bars along channel margins are more vulnerable to disturbance and where possible this should be a consideration in route selection across streams and rivers.
PLANNER'S REPORT

Planners Report – Jeff Harris

This year’s map covered two quite distinct areas of terrain bisected by the A684; to the West, The Howgills ancient slates and sandstones typically weathered into domed hills with steep sides, and to the East; Wild Boar Fell, Swarth Fell and Baugh Fell with gentler more boggy slopes on their West side down to the A684 and steep escarpments to the East, sandstone and limestone on their flanks with a plateau of millstone grit.

I last competed in the event in 1995 at The Brecon Beacons and I have been involved with the Planning Team since The Cheviots in 2002, when I was asked to plan this year’s event The Howgills was not an area that I was very familiar with, however over the last year I have had some fantastic days out in the area, Sedbergh and The Howgills really are hidden gems too often in the shadow of the Lake District.

In planning the courses I tried to give all competitors the opportunity to sample both parts of the area, given the constraints of getting the competitors back to the finish on the shorter linear courses these courses didn’t use much of the area to the East of the A684, however all the Score courses had the option to visit both areas. My objectives were to introduce as much route choice as and where possible and looking at Rouge Gadget it is interesting to see which routes competitors took, also to spread competitors out across the fell and minimise “crocodiles”.

The weekend like the terrain turned out to be two quite distinct parts or to use football parlance “a game of two halves” in terms of the weather, sunny and dry on Saturday, misty and wet on Sunday. On Saturday morning I walked up onto the fells above the start just below Arant Haw, in glorious sunshine it was great to see everyone spread out across the fells heading off in different directions.

It is only when you get involved “behind the scenes” that you really appreciate what a huge logistical event the OMM is, Jen and her teams do a magnificent job I can’t name them all but they know who they are and they all deserve a big pat on the back. I will however mention some individuals who help me as planner; Steve & Roger for their calm control, help and advice; Pete, Barry & Julie for their help putting out and checking controls in the week before the event; and last but by no means least Ann, who not only helped on the fells but feed us all week, thanks to you all I couldn’t have done it without you.

Many thanks for the positive comments received over the weekend and after the event, especially those finishing in the dark on Saturday and in the rain on Sunday who still managed to smile and comment that they enjoyed the courses; it really does make you feel that all your efforts have been worthwhile.

I hope you all enjoyed taking part in the event as much as I did planning it.

Hope to see you next year, somewhere in Wales.

Coordinators Report.

COORDINATOR'S REPORT

This is the 10th year that I have been involved in the organisation of the event and my sixth year as Controller or Coordinator. Each year has its own characteristics, its own problems and its own special memories.
This year was the most satisfying so far: excellent cooperation from landowners and graziers/commoners and also from Sedbergh School and the town; beautiful weather on Saturday and more challenging weather on Sunday; a glorious afternoon at the overnight campsite with unforgettable views over the Howgill Fells; very little anxiety from late or missing teams and only one real casualty – a case of hypothermia that developed in the Event HQ on Sunday afternoon.
The results are interesting. The winners’ times for the Linear Courses match the target times. But there are then only a handful of teams with times close to that, before a very large gap starts to show – Two or more hours behind the winners. Does this mean the winners are on the wrong course? That they should have been on a longer course and therefore the course is too long? ( I don’t believe they were on the wrong course. They are all young people-apart from Quentin- who should work their way up through the classes as their skills and strength develop) Or does it mean that most people have entered a course that is too long for them? Or are competitors looking for the challenge of a long course and are quite happy to be significantly slower than the winners? The planner can only work on past results and design the course for a specified winners time.
The Score Courses show a larger number of teams in contention at the top of the results.
Looking at routes for the C Class on Route gadget, it is interesting that most people have taken the same route for the optional controls (choose 5 from 8). Clearly there is a best route, but the skill lies in spotting it.
So, all that remains is for me to give my thanks to everyone in the team. Particularly the Planning Team, but also the bigger OMM team, who all pull together to make the event work so well, and also the competitors – always cheerful and enthusiastic. Without you it would be a waste of time.

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