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The Connoisseurs Mountain Marathon

Elite – Jethro Lennox & Andy Symonds - 1st Overnight

Great running today in some impressive mountains. Tough going in the first hour skirting around the Five Sisters with some munro tops temptingly close. Passed half a dozen elite teams including fellow Scottish Hill Runners Al Anthony and Ina Wellock on the run off Sgurr na Carnach. We then got into a great rhythm round Ciste Dhubh and into Glen Affric. Passed the Glen Affric hostel which brought back memories of a weeks munro bagging with my Dad many years ago. As if we had not been going fast enough Andy then decided to go even faster on the climb up Stob Coire na Cloiche and I really started to suffer. I was cursing all the recent road running and my lack of hill climbing as he speed in front of me. An energy bar and lots of water helped rejuvenate me. The last couple of hours was then good running although some of the checkpoints were on spurs which seemed to be everywhere. Fortunately visibility was great otherwise the spurs might have been a nightmare to find in thick mist. It was a relief to see the tents in the valley below as we legged it down to the finish and I collapsed on the ground. Great location for the overnight camp which is rapidly filling up with small green tents. Weather ideal for mountain marathon - can’t wait for tomorrow but noodles first.

A – Jon Ascroft & Steven Fallon – 1st Overnight

With clear fresh air from the off, we had a great day weaving though varied terrain and dramatic views. Full of enthusiasm rather than MM experience, we tromped up the first slopes, not sure what to expect. The first couple of checkpoints fell into place, then the debates started as to whether to follow the paths or direct lines over rough ground. Legs started to burn stomping up Faochaig, but the views north of Torridon were recompense. Some very steep craggy slopes had to be scooted around to find a manageable plummet down to the col before Aonach Buidhe. We eventually agreed that more Corbett bagging would have to wait, and contoured round the summit slopes, then scrambled down into a remote atmospheric corrie. The next climb found us picking through peat haggs, and the increasing leg burn offset only by the thought of the nearing finish. The sun was now getting through the clouds and it was getting quite warm. The final if small climb was a slog for fading legs, particularly after some soggy ground. But then tents came into view and momentum picked up, and the easy track allowed us to rattle down to the finish, full of sunshine and smiling faces.

 

B – Oleg Chepelin and Robbie Simpson – 1st Overnight

Running as LAMM virgins with a combined age of just 39 we did not know what to expect. I, Oleg, have been an orienteer since a young age and decided this year would be the right time to take my skills to mountain marathon running. Robbie, who has recently been breaking many hill records, accepted my invitation and we decided to make a debut this weekend. We started well with a cruel 700m climb up the side of A’ Chralaig. Traversing round the top we had our first bit of excitement when Robbie took off down the hill on his arse leaving me to traverse round. We regrouped soon after and continued our epic slog towards number 2. After spiking number 2 we descended down into Glen Affric, Scotland’s most spectacular Glen, and up to check point 3. Coming out of 3 we went up a scary hairy gully, this provided a few born trouser moments that kept us warm. Most of the climb was done by this point with just allot of contouring and a little descending back to the finish. We are hoping to keep our lead tomorrow and will give the elites a run for their money next year.

 

B - Freddie Rider and Toby Rider – 4th Overnight

After an unusual move to the start, a walk followed by 2 different buses, we had a good fast climb onto the shoulder of A Chralaig and dropped off to contour around its eastern edge overtaking the first teams out.  After a rough traverse over the spur we picked up the path to cross Glen Affric where Freddie took a spectacular face dive followed by a good long slide.  The climb up the stream at Allt Coire Ghaidhell was tough on the legs but was nothing compared to the climb up the back wall of Corie Ghaidheil, the steepest of the day!  Some hairy contouring with a bit of cliff hugging brought us down to Loch Goire Nan Dearchag for checkpoint 4.  The route to 5 had a few choices, but we decided to stay high and drop to contour along the edge of Creag Ghlas to the summit of Sgurr na h-Eige.  It was then a dash across to checkpoint 6 and then hell for leather straight down the face to the final checkpoint and the finish of day 1.  An excellent day with great weather, not too hot or too cold, and although we were chuffed with our time we soon saw how fast real men run with the leader a full hour ahead of the rest of the pack!

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Route planning above Loch Duich

The clouds over mid camp

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