ORGANISER'S REPORT - Martin Stone

 

L A M M†† 2001

We look forward to seeing you all somewhere in Scotland, probably in the first part of June 2001.The date will depend on the use of land in our chosen area and details of the event will be advertised on the web site when available.We suggest that you view www.lamm.co.uk at regular intervals from December onwards.When available, details will ONLY be sent by post to those who paid the extra £1 to have Final Details and Results sent to them rather than view them on the website.

 

WE NEED A NEW PLANNER.I'm sure you will all agree that Chris Hall has done a quite exceptional job at Black Mount 99 and Glen Shiel 2000 and deserves a tremendous vote of thanks from all concerned.Chris feels that one should keep rotating the planner at least every 2 years so that freshness and innovation are maintained.His will be a very tough act to follow indeed.Chris is very happy to provide advice and guidance to the new planner.As the event always takes place in Scotland, a person resident in the north of England or Scotland might find it easier to spend time in the area prior to the event than a 'soft southerner'.†† If you think you could meet this challenge and maintain the high standard in the most challenging areas, please contact Martin Stone at martin@lamm.co.uk.

 

FEEDBACK & FUTURE VENUES Ė A PRIZE FOR THE BEST LEAD!

Many of you have already contacted us since the event but we would welcome additional comments regarding the format and style of the event.It is really important to me that the event should remain innovative, exciting and provide fresh experiences each year.Ideally, I would like competitors to feel inspired by the event and to look forward to the weekend with anticipation as it approaches.It is our aim to provide a mountain marathon for connoisseurs with the most challenging courses and the finest venues.This can only be achieved by limiting the numbers to a sensible limit of 500 teams.Above that size, we feel that our options would be severely limited as the local infrastructure is put under too much pressure.Inevitably the first concession we would have to make is the quality of the venue.

 

We would like to place the ball back in your court.If you know an area of the Scottish Highlands that you feel would provide scope for a good event and would cope with up to 500 pairs, please contact us with your proposal.Better still, if you are acquainted with contact/s on the ground such as Landowners, Factors or Stalkers and could provide us with an introduction we would be especially pleased to hear from you.The most helpful suggestion will be rewarded with a free entry to the LAMM in a future year.I would like to thank everyone who suggested locations for LAMM 2000 and especially Niall Watson who wins a free entry for suggesting Glen Shiel and providing us with introductions to a number of the local estates.

 

ARTICLES ABOUT LAMM 2000.We are looking for budding journalists to write articles about this year's event and we would be especially keen to see articles published in The Fell Runner, Scottish Hill Runner Annual Journal, On The Hill and any other suitable magazine with which you may have contacts.We can supply loads of excellent photos and should you get a decent article published, we will provide free entry to a future LAMM of your choice.Please contact martin@lamm.co.uk.

 

WEB SITE & LIVE EVENT WEBCAST

It is clear from the entry forms that more than 80% of you can now access the Internet- a quite astonishing proportion that may not be a true reflection of the population as a whole.†† Everything you have received has also been available on the web site, which makes the task of disseminating information easier with every passing year.The Secure Online Entry system was very well supported and is definitely here to stay.The live web cast this year was an outstanding success and I would like to thank 9feet.com the outdoor equipment web retailer for making the web cast possible.Thanks are due to Mark McBride, who devoted many hours to the development and provision of the web cast.It may come as a surprise to learn that during the event we emailed all 80 pictures and reports about the event from Glen Shiel and Arnsidale to Mark on the Wirral where he lives and he assembled and updated the website from there.

 

THE EVENT

A few remarkable days in the lives of competitors, helpers and organisers alike.†† Glen Shiel was a magnificent venue for the sixth Scottish Mountain Marathon we have organised.I often leave it a bit late to finalise an area and this inevitably means that reccies for event centres and midcamp take place in mid-Winter.The job of an organiser often requires a vivid imagination as one squelches across a boggy field on a gloomy winter's day with an icy, damp wind scything in from a sea loch.†† The weather at the beginning of the week leading up to the event was also horrific with torrential rain, storm force winds and the Event Centre field reverted to uncrossable bog.It was clear that the course planning and control placing team was struggling as a result of the weather and as the weekend approached the pressure intensified.It's only a few kilometres across the hills to Kinloch Hourn but this settlement is 25 miles down the longest cul-de-sac in Britain and some 2 hours drive from Shiel Bridge.Furthermore, Barrisdale is one of the most isolated estates in Britain and the logistics of programming control boxes and siting them in these remote locations stretched the team's resources to the limit this year.Throughout the week with many mundane issues to deal with, I felt helpless to do anything more than be as positive as possible about the situation but by Friday evening it appeared that the worst was over, all control sites checked and all descriptions agreed.It was a tremendous effort by Chris Hall, Mark Hawker, Niall Watson, John Denmark, Brian Dearnaley and Debbie Thompson.While competitors are revelling in exciting and challenging courses in the wildest parts of the Highlands, it is good to be aware of the dedication, skill and imagination that makes a connoisseur's event like this possible.We are so lucky to be able to take our event to these magical parts of the Highlands and places like Arnisdale and Loch Hourn are gems that provide life-long memories.I feel that as an event we truly leave only footprints and take away only memories.††

 

This is the most remote Mountain Marathon that has ever been held in the British Isles and not surprisingly the entry fell short of our limit by about 60 teams.However the event was about the right size and the ambiance at the Event Centre/midcamp was much appreciated.It was especially pleasing this year to see our largest ever entry of 26 experienced Elite teams.Quite remarkably, all 26 teams started the event and 21 teams completed the event.We feel that it was probably the best Elite field ever assembled for a mountain marathon and I am very grateful for the commitment of all 430 pairs who travelled so far to compete in LAMM 2000.

 

Throughout the week the weather improved, the area dried and for the fifth year we were blessed with clement (if not always clear) weather.We commissioned a number of drainage and gateway improvements on the main fields at Shiel Bridge, which will benefit the Glen Shiel Estate for years to come.The JCB completed the gateway to the field only minutes before the marquee lorry arrived on the Thursday lunchtime.It was a proud and symbolic moment for me as I took a digital picture of the Event Centre field on a sunny afternoon with marquees erected and with the Sisters of Kintail in the background.A few minutes later I emailed it to our Webmaster Mark Mcbride who would load it onto the website by the 16:00 deadline with a description of the location so that competitors could at last plan their journey.

 

TRAUMAS

Mobile communications are improving so quickly in many parts of the Highlands and being able to use a mobile phone at the venues makes life so much easier for us, especially when trying to locate hundreds of missing LAMM tee shirts which at midnight on Thursday were still in a depot at Stoke-on-Trent.An emergency mission to the courier's Inverness depot on Friday lunchtime secured our stock of LAMM tees but it was a very close shave.While all this was going on, we were trying to help solve a crisis at Geneva Airport.Christian Aebersold and Jan Beguin, the Swiss Elite pair we had invited to the event were delayed for 4 hours while Easyjet dealt with a problem.Not surprisingly, they missed their connection to Inverness and we agreed that they should take a taxi from Luton to Stansted to catch a flight to Prestwick Airport, near Glasgow and then join our coach from Glasgow Airport.Unfortunately road traffic delayed them and they missed the flight by minutes.At 17:00hrs on Friday they were still in the south of England with no prospect of reaching the NW Highlands.I suggested that they should hunt around for any flight they could find to Scotland and finally at 20:30 hours they arrived at Edinburgh Airport to find a very pleasant surprise awaiting them.Eddie Speak, who only a few hours earlier had flown in to Plockton (some 20 miles from Shiel Bridge) with a light aircraft, had agreed to fly all the way back to Edinburgh Airport to rescue the Swiss.Finally as dusk fell at about 22:00 a light aircraft bearing the Swiss team overflew the Event Centre campsite and many of you may have witnessed the aircraft as Eddie performed his obligatory victory circuit of the field.†† That was quite enough excitement or should I say trauma for one day.††††

 

While we are on the subject of close shaves, Mandy Goth and Phil Hodgson sent me this note soon after the event: 'Our adventure started somewhat earlier than intended.When driving through Glencoe someone decided to turn into the petrol station in front of us causing us to swerve, wipe out a petrol pump and our car. Once we realised we were all OK our next reaction was how do we get there? Needless to say we got there. Thanks again, we'll be there next year'.

 

INNOVATIONS

There were a number of innovations this year and the live web cast & secure online entry have been mentioned above.For the first time we provided transport from Inverness and this has now opened up a whole raft of possible areas, which will be accessible to people from the 'deep south' and Europe.Many more people flew to Inverness than Glasgow.Although we had arranged for an early start on Sunday morning, we were still concerned that a few of the slowest teams might miss the transport back to Inverness or Glasgow in the afternoon.Chris Hall planned the course lengths to perfection and we bundled the final team onto the Glasgow coach as it was inching out of the parking area.Thank you to everyone who participated in the medical survey into the effect of endurance events on aspects of heart function.The medical team were delighted with the response and the enthusiasm of so many people to participate.†† We await the results with interest.††

 

I have always felt that it is difficult for this style of event to generate a large amount of income for local communities, as the venue remains secret until 36 hours before the event.There is very little possibility for competitors to arrange local accommodation beforehand.There is quite a lot of accommodation close to Shiel Bridge and so I decided this year that it would be worth seeing if we could fill all the local B&Bs and the hostel without providing the competitors with details of who was staying where until the Thursday evening.It was an interesting exercise and one fraught with danger of double booking and disappointment.To our delight it worked really well and the local people were delighted with the results.I spoke with most of them a few days after the event and many remarked what pleasant people you all were.†† Thank you for relying on us to not let you down with some monumental c*** up.We managed to find accommodation for about 100 people, which was excellent."Connecting with the community" is important when one brings this number of people to a remote rural location and this year we felt that there was a very friendly atmosphere and much goodwill with local people.

 

THE ESTATES

We are most grateful this year to six estates and a few crofters who kindly allowed us access to the land.I would especially like to thank Sandra Mann factor of the Glenshiel Estate for agreeing to host the event and stalker Rhuaraidh Campbell for assisting us with the Event Centre field and parking.Also thanks to Mr J H Richmond Watson, owner of the Arnisdale Estate and his stalker Ewan Ballantyne who assisted us with the midcamp field.Thanks to Mr Henry Birkbeck owns the Kinloch Hourn and the invaluable help and advice provided by stalker Donald Cameron whose initial support for the event set us on our way.The Barrisdale Estate is owned by brothers John and Rob Gordon and we are grateful to them for their enthusiasm and especially for the provision of the estate boat and stalker Stephen Miller who ferried Elite and A teams across Loch Hourn.Thanks also to Lord Dulverton who owns Eileanreach Estate and his stalker Alan Mackenzie.Also to Andrew Gordon who owns Wester Glenquoich estate.Thanks to crofters Hughian Mclure, Donny Macdonald and Farquar Macbeth who own parcels of land which we crossed.Bruce Taylor of Forest Enterprise for his advice and provision of stile-making materials.†† Our event can only ever take place with the support of the landowners and this is the single most critical aspect of the event.

THANKS TO THE HELPERS & ORGANISATIONS

I must to take this opportunity to thank a number of people who havenít been mentioned elsewhere.Debbie deserves the first vote of thanks for handling all the entries and producing the map with Geoff Wishart and Mike Squibb of the Ordnance Survey.Our planner Chris Hal and Mark Hawker, our controller put together magnificent courses and when all is said and done, an event is only as good as its courses.Thorlene Egerton did a sterling job in Glasgow, rounding up competitors at the coach station and airport on the Friday evening and returning them at the end of the event.Thanks to Roger Jackson who looked after the downloading of all the Sport ident cards this year and this lifted a weight from my mind.Thanks especially to David & Val Johnstone, David Exley, Dougie Macdonald, Charles Thompson, John and Sue Denmark, Dave Fenwick, Chris Hall's father & sister, Ian Brownell, Tom Norton, Denise Lawry, Eddie Speak, Ian, the 2 lads with the land rover, the Lowe Alpine ladies Paula, Sue, Laura & Pia and to anyone else I may have forgotten I offer my grateful thanks.Also to Paul McClintock for providing a comprehensive accident and emergency medical kit which (thank goodness) was hardly touched.

 

Thank you to Duncan Maclachlan and the Arrochar Rescue Team for their support on the hill and at the camps, also to the Glenelg Rescue Team who attended our briefing and remained in touch with the event all weekend.Thanks also to Andy Walker and colleague from St. Andrew Ambulance Inverness.We had remarkably few injuries this year considering the severity of the terrain and the person who was taken to Broadford Hospital with a minor head injury was released the same day.Thanks to Len Morrison of Arnisdale who helped to transport the Elite and A across Loch Hourn and provided an emergency telephone number for the Saturday.Thanks to Richard Shaw & Travis Perkins the Builders Merchants for their annual supply of toilet barrier material and water piping, Inverhall Marquees and Wilf's for their support and excellent fayre, served throughout the weekend.†† We're grateful to Nick Lancaster and his wife for their assistance and flexibility at Ratagan Hostel.Comformable for supplying a pair offoot-shaped bags to each competitor and some spot prizes.Last but by no means least, our sponsor Lowe Alpine and Jill Brownell with whom I liaise, who provided a great deal of help and support in the lead-up to the event and this year generously donated Lowe Alpine equipment vouchers which could be spent at Field and Trek.

 

Martin Stone

martin@lamm.co.uk