Over-ambitious and under-prepared

Early in 2014 Chris entered us in the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM). A demanding event held each summer in a wild location somewhere in the Highlands. The exact location of the start is not released until a couple of weeks before, so you can’t go up there and reconnoitre beforehand.

This would be a step up from our usual activities for the following reasons:

  • There is no marked route but an orienteering course requiring pinpoint navigation
  • There are few paths ; just rough open country all the way
  • It is a two day event with an overnight camp. All the gear for this has to be carried, you arrive at the campsite knackered and get up to do it all again the following day

We were delighted when the venue turned out to be Strathcarron; just south of the Liathach-Ben Eighe massif. We had been there before for the CELTMAN. This is lovely country.

They looked after us well on the Friday evening. There was a big marquee with live music as well as food, beer and equipment for sale. We sat next to a bloke from Swaledale who – once he had quizzed us about our level of experience – seemed pessimistic about our prospects. ‘How much does your pack weigh?’ We told him. He shook his head and said, ‘Most people will be carrying half that’.

He was right. Making or way to the start the following morning I felt a proper amateur. Our bags were far too big and heavy.

It was a great day though! Our route took us through wild and remote country. It was challenging; one of the most memorable days in the hills I’ve ever had.

The checkpoints were an adventure, even in excellent visibility. In mist, these would have been very tricky to find.

My problems began between CP 5 and 6. It had already become apparent that I was under-prepared for this. Chris was full of beans and well inside his capacities but I had done little preparation on real hills, none on bigger mountains. I was struggling by CP 5 and kept falling over on the way to 6. Slowing down significantly and falling over constantly, I was going to be a liability for the rest of the journey. We decided to call it a day around 16.00 hrs – nevertheless, we still had a five mile walk back to base.

I felt rotten for Chris, because he could have finished.

Some lessons learned:

  • We entered the B class – this was (for me) too ambitious
  • We needed lighter kit
  • More than anything, I should have trained hard on steep, pathless terrain. The LAMM is nothing like anything I’ve ever done before!

So do we have another bash in 2015? Oh yes, I think so!

There’s no such thing as a DNF – only a training run for next time.

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