Monday, 26 September 2011

Elite Mourne Mountain Marathon Win

Day 2 Start

On the 16th Sept I headed to Northern Ireland with Wil for the Mourne Mountain Marathon. Its taken us 3 years since coming 2nd overall (1st MIX) on the B to enter the Elite and this was my first Mountain Marathon in that catagory. After a nights sleep in the car, we had a very leisurley morning of registering and getting ready before heading onto the hills at 9:54am! We caught our first pair going to number 1, then it was off into the mist towards number 2. This should have been a straight forward bearing across a plateau, hit the edge, turn right, down first stream. Sadly hurricane Irene had created about 20 streams in the area of our stream and with no obvious relocation feature the pot luck stream hunting began....25-30minutes later we found the control....and lead 3 more teams into it doh!

We set off to 3 fast, racing Harold Wyber (my OMM partner of the last few years) and Mark Ford. Different route choices meant we didn't see them for the rest of the course, but only lost 10 more mintues to them! At control 6 the Mourne MM has a good section of free choice order of controls. It was difficult to decide on the best route choice, but we settled for one with what we thought was least climb, even though this meant one very steep climb! After this I was informed we only had 3miles to go so set a cracking pace along the first bit of 'path' we'd seen all day :-). As it turned out Wil had failed to spot the final traverse of a hill, so it was slightly further than we thought but we got into the finish in 6hrs 50mins, 1hr and 10 behind the leaders in 6th position. Considering number 2 we were quite happy with this.

A fine meal of smash and fruit cake lightened the bags considerably....then the weather made sure there would be no light bag for day 2. We woke up to the sound of heavy rain and strong wind, I thought I was at the OMM! Eventually we had to get out of the tent or we'd miss the start. The weather forecast posted in the barn suggested cloud base was 2100m, we were camping above 2000m then (see pic).

Day 2 was a mass start and although we didn't know which team was 9 mins behind us, I'm sure they knew who they were chasing pretty quickly! Leg 1 and 2 were long and the leading teams got some time on us! Then 3 and 4 required some fine nav in thick thick mist and OMM conditions. We nailed 3, then Paddy Higgins and Johnny McCloy came hurtling past! We spiked 4 as well, and Paddy and Johnny came flying back past us :-). At control 5 we arrived pretty much the same time as them, to find 3 more teams stood scratching their heads....This was the team in 1st, 2nd and the team 9mins behind us. Control 5 had been stolen and so this bunching up created an effective restart. We raced with the team in 2nd place all the way to number 10 where they started to pull away to the finish. By the end of the day we were only 30 minutes down on the fastest time having finished in 4hrs 39mins (after leg 4-6 was removed to adjust for control hunting time), however this put us in 7th place! Tightly packed! We also finished 7th overall (1.5hrs down on the joint winners) as the team 9minutes down on us had stormed it to take 2nd fastest time on day 2!

  We won the mixed team catagory by a convincing 4hrs and 15minutes! A good end to my first Elite Mountain Marathon :-). Next time I'll be back to make my way up the top 10...

1 comment:

  1. Well done! Also, "A fine meal of smash and fruit cake" - you were definately racing with Wil!