Full image gallery available HERE
The inaugural Marmot24 took place over the weekend of August 2nd and 3rd. The UK’s first 24-hour mountain marathon. What an epic race it turned out to be!
The tough and challenging Lakeland terrain tested each and every participant to the limit. Using a score format (all controls had the same points) participants had the potential to visit and accumulate points from 54-controls spread over an area of 300 square km’s. Needless to say, the potential for any 2-man (or woman or mixed) team to gain a 100% score was almost impossible. However, several teams excelled in the tough conditions.
50-teams took on the challenge of the 24, 12 or 6-hour format with respective start times of midday Saturday the 2nd August, midnight 2nd August or 0600 3rd August. It was ironic that after weeks, no months, of the most perfect UK weather, the change came on the morning of the race and conditions for all events were ‘challenging.’
24-hour competitors registered at 0900 and therefore had several hours of prep time before the midday start.
It was needed! With 54-controls and such a potentially large area to cover, this race was always not only going to be about fitness but also about navigation.
Race HQ was just off the A66 between Penrith and Kendal and this therefore offered race director, Shane Ohly (Ourea Events) and Charlie Sproson (Course Planner) the opportunity to go north and south of the A66 and use the HQ as a hub for both directions.
Route planning was so varied; some teams would start south, others in the north. Clockwise or anti-clockwise. The route options were endless and thus tracking and following of the event was very much a lottery.
One consensus for many appeared to be the potential to spend 10-12 hours on the fells, call in the HQ for food, maybe some sleep and a change of clothes and then head back out. Most teams took this option and at the finish, the only teams not to use this strategy ended up taking the 1st and 2nd places.
At the stroke of midday, runners departed to the fells and dispersed like ants being chased.
Rain had been falling for hours and continued at varying strengths for the duration of the event. In the evening a wonderful dry patch of weather arrived and showed the Lakes in all it’s glory… many runners said post race that it was worth being wet for so long for the display that the heavens provided that evening.
Teams had travelled from all over the UK, France and Spain to participate in this new and ground breaking event. Post race, they all concurred that the terrain and the difficult conditions had provided them all with an ultimate test. Bogs, marshes, bracken and ferns were a new experience to the ‘Europeans’ and it was clear to see the impact. Top Spanish competitor, Mònica Aguilera post race discussed her frustration about the terrain and how difficult it was at times. ‘It was so hard, so difficult and so slow,’ she said, ‘local knowledge would certainly have been a help; on the map we thought this section (south west corner of the course) would be fast and runnable. However, it was very tough and very slow… it took us hours.’
Ultimately, local knowledge did prove a great help for Kenny Leitch and Keith Masson, they accumulated an impressive 380-controls but did not take top honours! Proving that local knowledge and great navigation (along with excellent fitness) is the key to a successful race, the Spanish team of Aurelio Antonio Oilvar and Angel Garcia topped the podium with 39-controls. This score was considered by all competitors and staff as quite remarkable under the tough and extreme conditions.
In addition to the main event of 24-hours, a 12-hour and 6-hour option was provided. Certainly, starting at midnight (for the 12-hour) and heading off into the cold, dark and very wet night would not be a challenge that many would embrace. However, each and every runner looked excited at the prospect.
From midnight the weather slowly became worse and all runners had to endure prolonged downpours and on the tops, strong winds. Adding navigation to the mix did make the whole experience a tough challenge.
Sam Jenner and James Langstraat topped the 12-hour podium with 10-controls beating Tarni Duhre and Andrew Campbell into 2nd by just 1-control.
As participants recovered with a bowl of hot chilli post race, one thing became apparent; he combination of tough Lakeland terrain, variable weather and 54-contols set the Marmot24 apart from other events and it’s a format that was welcomed. Roll on 2015!
- Aurellio Antonio Olivar/ Angel Garcia – 390 points
- Kenny Leitch/ Keith Masson – 380 points
- Anthony Emmet/ Catriona Sutherland – 280 points
- Sam Jenner/ James Langstraat – 100 points
- Tarni Duhre/ Andrew Campbell – 90 points
- Alice Lamont/ Andrew Jones – 60 points
- Katir Francis/ Duncan Hedges
MARMOT24 WEBSITE HERE
RACE PHOTOGRAPHY HERE