Marmot Dark Mountains™ – 2014 Race Preview

Marmot Dark Mountain - FINAL (BLACK)This weekend will see the second Marmot Dark Mountains™ take place in the Peak District. “The Peak District has the perfect blend of high moorland areas, challenging terrain and a wonderful sense of wilderness… especially at night.”

Taking the classic two-day mountain marathon format, Shane Ohly (RD) and Ourea Team have given the race format a new… darker twist. The Marmot Dark Mountains™ will pack everything into one night. Derbyshire in January can only mean one thing… cold and potentially wet. Current weather forecasts are showing at best an 80% chance of rain, wind speeds of 17-22mph and lows of 2degs. Navigation is only going to be one element of this race!

©benwinston

©benwinston

Based on the classic mountain marathon format, competitors will compete in 2-man teams in categories Short/ Long Score, A, B, C and Elite. The nature of the terrain would normally dictate the distance of each course and the Ourea Team are sticking with this format and planning with a certain winning time in mind.

The addition of darkness, potentially bad weather and navigation will all make Marmot Dark Mountains™ a tough challenge.

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©benwinston

“The knowledge gained from the first event shows that with experienced and vetted competitors, you can run an event in atrocious weather and allow the competitors to make decisions about their own safety.”

Although the winning time for the chosen race class will be similar to a normal mountain marathon, the distance covered will be reduced.

Departing from Glossop (Peak District) on Saturday evening, the longest classes will set off first and conversely; the shorter classes will set off later. This dusk-to-dawn style of racing will look to have all competitors finishing in a 1 to 2-hour window come Sunday morning. The break of dawn as runners converge on the finish line will without doubt make this an exciting finale to a long nights racing.

Marmot Dark Mountains™ is a challenging event, however courses will remaining open until 1200 on Sunday; this will allow sufficient time for everyone to complete their respective courses.

BW-Sponsors-Marmot

Shane Ohly when asked about the event and who would be the main protagonists had this to say, “My suspicion is that the elite race will be a battle royal between the duo of Steve Birkinshaw / Tom Gibbs and Chris Near / Tim Higginbottom. Both Steve and Tim are excellent navigators but with a 14-minute difference in their start times, I am hoping that they will remain in the ‘dark’ about each others positions until they have finished. I wouldn’t dismiss Simon Patton / Dave Troman either as both have intimate local knowledge and the darkness can be a great leveler of speed. Dark horses will be Jim Mann (recent winter BG record) / Stuart Walker – they are not renowned as a strong navigation team but they are fast.”

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It goes without saying that there will a hearty breakfast and hot drinks available to everyone as they finish. Competitors may also sleep at the Event Centre, which is recommend, before travelling home.

Race sponsorship comes from Marmot, Silva and Trail Running Magazine.

Entrant Numbers (teams of 2):

  • Short score – 20
  • Long score – 15
  • C category – 15
  • B category – 7
  • A category – 7
  • Elite – 13

Links:

Marmot Dark Mountains™ – Peak District National Park in January 2014

Image ©benwinston

Image ©benwinston

The second Marmot Dark Mountains™ mountain marathon will take place in the Peak District National Park in January 2014. Race organiser, Shane Ohly from Ourea Events, elaborated on the special allure of this area.
“The Peak District has the perfect blend of high moorland areas, challenging terrain and a wonderful sense of wilderness… especially at night. Precisely because of the superb nature of the area, we have had to negotiate over a two year period with the National Trust, National Park and other agencies to secure permission for this event. We have six different courses on offer and they all take advantage of some of the best parts of Bleaklow and Kinder Scout. It promises to a superb test of competitors’ mountain running skills.
Marmot Dark Mountain - FINAL (BLACK)
Marmot Dark Mountains™ takes place on the last weekend of January each year, and the inaugural event took place in what can only be described as diabolical weather (just have a look at the videos on the event website) but Shane Ohly knows this is all part of the attraction.
“Obviously, we would all like to have a still, cloud free and moonlit night but competitors don’t enter this event unless they are up for an epic mountain running experience and it is our job to deliver this safely without compromising on the nature of the challenge. The knowledge gained from the first event shows that with experienced and vetted competitors, you can run an event in atrocious weather and allow the competitors to make decisions about their own safety. Kenny Leitch, a competitor at the 2013 event summed it up nicely.
“What an extraordinary event! I did my first mountain marathon 24 years ago and Marmot Dark Mountains™ definitely had the worst conditions ever.”
Image ©benwinston Marmot Dark Mountains - iancorless.com

Image ©benwinston Marmot Dark Mountains – iancorless.com 

As a night mountain marathon, the event presents some unique challenges to both the competitors and the organisers. This year Ourea Events has been working in collaboration with Harvey Maps to produce a bespoke ‘high contrast’ map of the event area, which shows the contours and other map detail with greater clarity than a standard map.
With the announcement of the event area, the organisers have also released details of the planner’s optimum routes. The 2014 planner, Dave Taylor, is a very experienced fell runner and Peak District local so the competitors can expect that his optimum routes really are the quickest way to complete each of the courses.
C Course = Distance 36.3km / Height Gain 1,547m
B Course = Distance 41.1km / Height Gain 1,785m
A Course = Distance 44.4km / Height Gain 1,940m
Elite Course = Distance 55.5km / Height Gain 2,635m
Short Score = 8 hours
Long Score = 10 hours
BW-Sponsors-Marmot BW-Sponsors-Silva
With the support of sponsorship from Marmot® and Silva® there is a £500 cash prize for the winning elite team at the event. This year the competition is really hotting up, with top elite runners Tim Higginbottom and Chris Near from Team Hagloffs already entered.
Tim said, “Elite mountain marathons are hard to finish let alone win; the courses are long, navigation tricky and route choices crucial. So if you take this concept, remove the half-way rest, run it overnight to make the navigation nearly impossible – and then stage it in deepest winter for good measure you have something that will stretch the best to their limit! There’s a certain type of person that enjoys a challenge this hard. See you out there!”
LINKS:
Date: 25th & 26th January 2014
Venue: Peak District National Park
Entry: £45 per person
Courses: Elite, A, B, C, Short Score and Long Score