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Organiser's Comments - Martin stone
martin@lamm.co.uk

A Venue and The Steam Train

Last October, a chance conversation re-introduced me to Ardverikie Estate. As some of you will know, I had long harboured a desire to deliver a large number of competitors by train to the wild and beautiful setting at Corrour Station. For a number of years I've had to 'put up' with friends asking me when I was going to take everyone by train to Corrour. Originally I had always envisaged the use of a train from the south - possibly Tyndrum. The enthusiasm of Ardverikie Estate to host the event provided possibilities for an A -> B event, which might involve a train journey. I love steam trains and there is something very special about this great invention of man. There are now so few spare trains and rolling stock in the UK that the only way to transport large numbers of competitors is to charter a private train. I am very grateful to James Shuttleworth and the West Coast Railway Company for agreeing to provide a train and then embracing the idea that if at all possible it should be a steam train. The Jacobite is a train that runs daily from Fort William to Mallaig during the summer months. It comes up each year from Carnforth and we were lucky that it was available as it was to start the season the day after it was needed for the LAMM. James asked me to provide 3,000 gallons of clean water at Tulloch, which had be pumped into the engine within a 30-minute window. Easy I thought - not so easy and I'm grateful to Fred Kelly of Tomatin who worked with us to deliver a tanker to Tulloch and quench the thirst of the train.

When the I stood on the platform at Tulloch on the Saturday morning I obviously knew what to expect. I noticed quizzical looks on a few competitor's faces as they saw a plume of smoke and steam in the distance. As Jacobite pulled up the gentle incline to the station these looks turned to broad smiles and spontaneous applause rippled along the platform. Magical moments like this make all the effort worthwhile. My apologies to those of you on the D and Novice courses who due to the distance from Corrour to the midcamp at Culra had to start at Kinloch Laggan and were unable to enjoy the train journey.

The Estates, Foot & Mouth & The Event

Ardverikie, Corrour and Ben Alder are three huge estates. I am very grateful to the factors Duncan Leslie & Peter Bruce at Ardverikie, Ted Piggott at Corrour and Patrick Thompson at Ben Alder for agreeing to host the event, also for their support and advice throughout the last few months. Foot and Mouth Disease struck in late February and all plans were put on hold until early April. I made a few nervous phone calls to the estates in mid-April and was heartened to learn that there was a glimmer of hope for LAMM 2001. Since then the support offered to us has been magnificent and we are so lucky to have been able to hold the first major mountain event of 2001. We suggested a disinfection regime for the Event Centre and Corrour Station. The estates were very happy with this and although it may have seemed a bit over the top to those living north of the border, it was a very minor inconvenience if it allowed us to hold the event as planned.

I would like to thank the keepers George Macdonald of Camusericht Estate and Craig Wilson of Dunan Estate for allowing the event to cross their land to the southeast of Corrour on the Saturday morning. Dave Smith who owned one of the cottages near the Event Centre and who installed the water supply to the field also helped us tremendously. Gordon Duncan, the head keeper for Ardverikie also provided much help and advice. At the midcamp we are indebted to the keeper Ian Crichton who helped us with trips into Culra, arranged for the loo trench to be dug and provided materials for it. Ian and his family also allowed Rob Howard and Ian of the 9feet webcast team to work at his kitchen table late into the Saturday night. We are also grateful to Rick and Angela Brown who manage the restaurant & bunkhouse at Corrour for their enthusiasm.

The location for LAMM 2001 included a number of Munros and all courses visited at least one summit. The midcamp at Culra nestled below the slopes of Ben Alder. The weather for the weekend did not look promising and Friday night at the Event Centre was cold, windy and wet. However, David Braine, chief weatherman at the BBC Weather Centre promised that the weather would improve throughout the weekend. By the time competitors were eating their post race meal kindly provided by Wilfs on Sunday lunchtime, the usual post LAMM sunbathing was able to commence. Many thanks to Cameron McNeish and Sir Ranulph Fiennes who both competed in the event and who helped to present the prizes. Many competitors mentioned how much they enjoyed being woken early in the morning by the dulcet tones of Niall Watson, one of our hardworking helpers and bagpiper. We've asked Niall to bring the pipes with him each year from now on. For information, the tunes on Saturday morning were - Come to the Hills, My Lodgings on Cold Ground and Wings. On Sunday morning he played Dream Angus, Going Home and Bonnie Dundee.

Event Accommodation

I realise that a few people find my obsession with secrecy regarding the event location a bit childish and sometimes inconvenient.. However, this year almost 500 teams took part in the LAMM and the feedback is overwhelmingly that people like surprises and a bit of uncertainty & excitement in their lives. This year it seemed more difficult than ever to keep plans under wraps as the event drew closer. Apologies to those who on obtaining the directions to the event, booked accommodation to the east of Laggan and therefore more than 24KM from the Event Centre. We won't allow this to happen again. The accommodation is the one aspect of the event organisation that didn't work out too well. I had made a lot of effort to book most of the Loch Ossian Youth Hostel and the entire Corrour Station Signal Box bunkhouse for the Friday night. Also we had booked the Tulloch Station bunkhouse which our organising team used during the preceding week as the event HQ. On the Friday evening we intended to move a number of people by van to Tulloch Station and then transport them on the 18.00 train up to Corrour for the night. They would leave their cars at the Event Centre and return to them at the end of the event on Sunday. Maybe the plan was just too clever. It appears that as the accommodation was first come first served, most people didn't take the risk and made bookings miles away in the Newtonmore area. It was a great shame as we had a great night planned at Corrour for those who took up the option. In retrospect I realise that I could have thought it through a bit better.

Transport from Glasgow/Inverness

This year we offered the possibility for those arriving at Glasgow on early flights to share a hire car with another team in a similar situation. In future we will issue a list of people arriving in Glasgow on the website and update it on a regular basis. Competitors can then contact each other to make private arrangements before it is necessary to book transport on our early evening coach.

Planes, Trains . And Now Helicopters

We hope you didn't mind the spoof at registration about "fear of flying" - our course planner's sense of humour. I was gob smacked to see that half a dozen or so signed the list. A couple of chaps were looking at the notice at about 6pm and deriding it as an obvious wind up until they heard the sound of a helicopter landing outside the marquee. You should have seen the look on their faces. Eddie Speak and Adrian Moir usually hire light aircraft for the weekend and fly to the nearest grass/tarmac strip. This year by complete coincidence they had both gained their licences to fly helicopters and I guess this means that in future every event centre will need a helipad. It was fun having them at the event and Eddie proved invaluable on the Saturday morning as he flew to Corrour to pick up the Grampian Television cameraman so that some footage could be filmed of the second steam train climbing up from Loch Treig and the competitors heading off from the start.

Thanks to Helpers and Organisations

Our planner Mark Hawker and controller Chris Hall have done a great deal over the past few years to develop the way courses are planned and checked. Their attention to detail and the way they meet the challenge of designing safe courses in potentially hazardous terrain has been an inspiration to me. This year they swapped jobs so that Mark could do the planning. I can tell you that they tackle these tasks with a passion and we're all very grateful to them for their hard work and fabulous courses.

Debbie Thompson deserves the first vote of thanks for handling all the entries and much of the administration, also to Mark Stodgell who produced the 2001 map from digital data supplied by the Ordnance Survey. Thorlene Egerton and Jon Sutcliffe 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 especially to David & Val Johnstone for all the assistance they give with bits and pieces in the months leading up to the event and then looking after the Event Centre during the event.

Many thanks also to helpers Charles Thompson, John Dixon, John and Sue Denmark, Andrew Leaney, Niall Watson, Ian Brownell, Angela Mudge, Clive Cafall, Craig Harwood, Phil Merrin, Denise Lawry, Tim Lord, Brian Jackson, Graham Eccles, Kathleen Conway and 2 friends, the Lowe Alpine ladies Jill Brownell, Sue Mercer and Laura Cooper 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. Thanks to Richard Shaw & Travis Perkins the Builders Merchants for their annual supply of toilet barrier material, Inverhall Marquees and Wilf's for their support and excellent fayre, served throughout the weekend. Alan and Belinda who own the bunkhouse at Tulloch were marvellous and allowed us to take over the place during the week leading up to the event. Roddy Archibald of Highland Country Buses as usual did us proud by providing 6 buses and working with us to make Saturday morning possible. Thanks also to David Braine of the BBC Weather Centre for providing such accurate forecasts and what turned out to be near perfect LAMM weather. Also thanks to Stuart Brown of Lowe Alpine who created the design for the tees/sweats from some of my photographs.

Thanks to Sponsors

Last but by no means least, thanks to our sponsor Lowe Alpine and to Jill Brownell with whom I liaise, who provided a great deal of help and support in the lead-up to the event. Thanks to Rob Howard and Ian of 9feet.com for all the work they put into making the webcast a success. Thanks also to Conformable for supplying a pair of foot-shaped bags to each competitor and some spot prizes.

 
  
 

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Route planning above Loch Duich
 
The clouds over mid camp
 
Racing together - the spirit of the event