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If you don't want this for a time, please comment it-Fabian !Next Ice Climb
Manchester Indoor Ice Wall
Friday 1st December at 8:30am
If you don't want this for a time, please comment it-Fabian !Next Climb
Nottingham Indoor Wall Monday 16th October 4pm
The Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon 2004 was held in Glencarron, just 35 KM NE of Kyle of Lochalsh. In 2003 Matt Hilton had managed to get 6 MPS teams together, but for various reasons this year Damian and I had to defend MPS honour alone, considering Laurence Hooper to be entering as an OTC challenge rather than MPS.
Coming from Glenbrittle, Damian and I arrived at the event centre early, despite the best efforts of some slow moving military lorries on the narrow winding A890. This resulted in us getting a start time of 7am for the following day, and having plenty of time to drool over the kit in the shop. Must remember next year to wait until I get there to buy any kit I need because it is all there at good prices. We had the luxury of Damainís tent for base camp, keeping my nice Terra Nova for the mid camp packed dry in our bags. We spotted the head of Glenmore Lodge and wondered what high up category he was competing in. It turned out that he was actually in our category (D), competing with his son. Obviously they had perfect navigation all the way through! In contrast, to our early arrival, Hooper and OTC teamate, flying up Glasgow didn't arrive until after we were in bed.
The next morning, as we followed the marshalís directions to the start line, we were surprised to find ourselves loaded onto buses and driven 25 KM north up the road, but this gave everyone time to adjust everything.
We did well on the first three checkpoints (routes available at LAMM website if you're interested)), making no major navigational errors. we did have some bad comms though when damian realised that we needed to detour round a river, but I carried on oblivious and then had to backtrack. The weather was cold and wet on the tops, with even the hint of snow. The river crossing was fun. Checkpoint four was where it all went wrong. I was beginning to regret bringing a 'water resistant' rather than waterproof mac in my desire to save on weight, and was getting cold and wet, but I didn't want to stop to put on another layer. We wandered right past the checkpoint and continued up the stream for a while. I wasn't quite hypothermic as I still knew that I needed to put another layer on, but I was getting close. Eventually I forced myself to stop and put on a layer and gloves, though my hands were so cold that Damian had to get stuff out off my bag for me. Soon after this, we realised where had gone wrong, and came closest to giving up. We said, 'if the checkpoint isn't just down there then we'll retire.' It was, however, and after that we completed the last three checkpoints without difficulty, finishing the day in respectable time of under 6 hours. We estimated that checkpoint 4 had cost us at least 45 minutes, perhaps even an hour.
The midcamp was in a bog, and we were very glad to have a nice sturdy tent, in contrast to some of the ridiculous single skin things that some people had. As we had started the day early and were doing and 'easy' course, we were back before most, though Glenmore lodge guy was already there, looking out from his tent. We retreated inside and spent the next two hours warming up and drying out. I was very loathe to get out of my sleeping bag and go and download my chip. when I did so I was annoyed to find that the finish line had moved 100m down the track from when we finished, so we had in effect been punished for finishing early before the chip download van was set up.
Hooper got back in a similar time to us, but unfortunately at checkpoint number 2 they had found one from a different course. We felt quite sympathetic, given how tough it had been to complete the day, only to find out that you were disqualified.
We were lying in 43rd place after day 1, and of the 150 teams starting a number had dropped out, even with a couple of real cases of hypothermia, in apparently the worst weather over seen in the 12 years of LAMM. we now also noticed that Ranulph Fiennes was competing in the Elite category, coming in last place with a time of over 10 hours, and a combined team age of 119! It did seem that we were one of the youngest teams there, with most of the serious competitors at least in their 30's. Plenty of time for us to get good at it then!
On day two the weather was better. Not wanting to run in the sodden trousers from the day before I was reduced to wearing just waterproof ones. Damian navigated well, to the extent that on a couple of occasions we couldn't help leading a few other teams to a couple of tricky checkpoints. After halfway Damian began to get enthusiastic with the idea of the end within grasp, and kept urging me on. We made good time, running as much as we could, getting the satisfaction of overtaking some teams, and getting back in just a shade over 5 hours.
We thought we had a good chance of making up some positions, and agreed that if we finished in the top 20, then we should enter C category next year. Once had eaten the beautiful meal provided at the end of the race, we went to check the provisional result and were amused to find ourselves in 20th! We watched the presentations, and afterwards found that some teams had since come in who must have done better than us on the first day, with the result, that we had slipped down to 24th, letting us off the hook! However, we hardly claim to be beginners anymore, and so it may be time to move up to C catgory in 2005 rather than be accused of pot hunting....
Hooper had admirably decided to attempt day two, and got back about an hour after us. They hadn't been able to find checkpoint 3, and therefore missed out number 6 as well. We felt that MPS had come out well. They had the rush off to get the coach to Glasgow airport, but we took our time, tending to out feet and other admin, and having to get the car pulled out of the muddy field by a tractor. On route to Nottingham we stayed overnight at a posh campsite outside Lanark with beautiful showers. It somehow felt wrong though to put up a Terra Nova somewhere where the grass was 2mm long and perfectly flat!
Sorry to disappoint Chris (R), but Damian and I didn't actually argue that much when no-one else was around, it's all for show! We worked well as a team.
All in all, harder than 2003, but more rewarding. Hope to see more of you entering next year...
Later addition: I've just noticed that the Explorers President Sam Clifford and another member Gareth Selby were also competing in D category - I noticed them because they were the only team younger than us. Anyway, they finished 35th, so congrats to them for completing it, and commiserations to the OTC lads. But of the 3 teams competing from Notts Uni (MPS, Explorers and OTC), MPS came out on top! Quite pleasing really. :-)
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