The OMM or Original Mountain Marathon was started in 1968 by Gerry Charnley to test competitor’s abilities in the mountains. Gerry wanted to set up a race that combined running, orienteering, hill walking & an overnight camp. Skills required for anyone entering the UK mountains. This ethos of self-reliance means competitors are on their own to find a series of checkpoints and an overnight camp before returning on Sunday to the finish. With everyone on a different route the competitors are surrounded by 2000 others but have no one to follow.
OMM says “The OMM race is a very real challenge, there’s no one to feed & water you or give you shelter. We want competitors to be prepared for their own race and that includes what they carry and what route they take. We provide a comprehensive, course wide, invisible safety net around the competitors should they require it, but we want to put competitors at the mercy of their own decisions.”
On October 28-29 the Original Mountain Marathon will celebrate it’s 50th race, a significant milestone for any event. We have just released this years location as the North West of England and, with a few surprises planned, this years OMM will be on many a bucket list for 2017.
Last week race coordinator Dave Chapman and the planners spent a week in the hills checking routes and potential control sites, experiencing sun, wind, hail and snow on a couple of days. Based upon our initial work the planners looked at both the northern and southern route across the hills. In both cases we decided that wall crossings and the need for a defined corridor route ruled them both out. As a result, the planners made modifications to stretch some of the courses further east and west, bringing the courses back toward their target level of challenge. Dave commented: “This is a standard approach – after some getting to know the hills, courses can be drafted which then enables routes to be tested, sometimes leading to the need to review them”. These changes have brought a new landowner into the picture who is happy to support the event.
During this time the planners met with the local Mountain Rescue team leader to brief them on the event. The OMM is well known in the MR community so there were no concerns. He also noted that OMM has always taken its potential environmental impact very seriously and therefore works closely with the appropriate environmental agencies (eg Natural England or Scottish National Heritage). Any courses re designed to avoid any areas identified as sensitive. However, this year is the first that we’ve seen the impact of flood prevention; some of the hillsides have been planted with young trees since these will soak up large volumes of water; but as a result, courses have to be designed to avoid these plantations.
Using the new course targets, course planning has been progressing for 3 months using a Harveys map. Please remember that the A Course target is slightly shorter this year having dropped the B course. The new B course is the previous years D course. C course is now called “Combined Course”.
Over the next few weeks planners will continue to develop the courses and will be visiting the planned control sites to assess and mark them. Then in June the hill team will visit all sites to provide a second opinion on their viability; is the feature unique in the area, is the map good enough to enable accurate navigation in poor visibility, and is the location viable for a marshal?
After a successful week the whole team is excited about what this years courses will offer the competitors.
As partners of the OMM 50th Anniversary race. Lifesystems, Nordisk & OMM have put together a complete kit list prize pot for a lucky winner. A total prize pot worth £1750, you can find out more details about how to win here: www.lifesystems.co.uk/omm-adventure-racer Good Luck!