> 2009 race reports
06-07/06/09 LAMM 2009 - from John Duff (photos by John)

Paul on Beinn Fhada

Paul Hainsworth and I ran the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM) at the weekend.  It was held at Kintail which is in the north-west Highlands on the road to Kyle of Lochalsh.  Paul is a veteran of numerous mountain marathons, but this was my first one.  Despite a late arrival after 11 pm, the event centre was still abuzz.  More importantly, Wilf’s Café was still serving desserts, so we got some extra calories on board in preparation for two long days on the hill.

The early morning wake up call from the piper was at 5 30 am.  But as we weren’t starting till 9 am, we snoozed for a while in the comfort of the Hainsworth campervan.  A brief bus ride took us to our allotted start.  After marking up our smart laminated maps with the day’s checkpoints, we were off to the first one – a non-descript knoll on the hillside.  The clouds were high with just the odd bit of drizzle blowing through, so this helped the navigation.  Even so, we still had to hunt about for a few checkpoints which were cunningly hidden on spurs and re-entrants (which I now know is a dip in the ground).

heading for checkpoint 1

We were entered on the A course (the level below the Elite course) with 34 other teams.  Saturday’s course included a checkpoint on a Corbett (a hill over 2,500 feet) – Faochaig at 868 metres – and then an awkward leg to a stream junction on the far side of another Corbett – Aonach Buidhe.  Other teams around us opted to contour around the latter hill.  We chose to go straight over the top, bagging the Corbett in the process.  This proved to be a smart move as we gained a good lead on the other teams and ran the rest of the day by ourselves.   After 7.5 hours we trotted into the mid-race camp in 19th position.  The camp was in a spectacular position, surrounded by beautiful hills.  I had invested in a midge net, but in the event a cooling breeze kept the little blighters at bay.

mid-race camp

Sunday dawned even earlier than Saturday – the piper roused the troops at 5 am with a stirring rendition of Mairi’s Wedding.  After braving the delights of the slit-trench toilets (quite an experience), we were off for our second day.  The first hill was slow going, but soon we started to find our rhythm and enjoyed a high traverse past several minor peaks at the 1,000 metre level.  The views were fantastic: Skye’s Cuillin Ridge to the west, Torridon to the north, and Ben Nevis to the south.  We reached our LAMM highpoint at 1,143 metres on the western top of Sgurr nan Ceathreamhnan, but then made our one navigational mistake, descending the wrong ridge in the mist.  Luckily we didn’t go too far astray and managed to contour round to the correct ridge.  Several other teams went wrong here too – but it was still a salutary lesson to keep an eye on the map at all times.

5 am dawn call from the piper

The final climb of the day was a 700 metre slog up the north-east ridge of Beinn Fhada.  We were rewarded for our efforts with a checkpoint on the top of our one Munro for the weekend and a 360 degree view.  We descended along a dramatic rocky ridge with some minor scrambling, before dropping to the finish after 6 hours on the go.  We were still in 19th place and had taken a total of 13 hours 34 minutes to cover 54 kms and 3,800 metres of ascent.  At the finish we enjoyed lazing in the sun as we tucked into our bean stew and tea from Wilf’s.  Lewis and Jane Grundy were also there, having finished 12th in the Elite Course.

John Osbourne's Team

Gleinn Goarsaic from Beinn Fhada

John and Paul on the summit of Beinn Fhada

It was a great weekend.  Many thanks are due to the organiser Martin Stone and his team.  Those with a spare internet minute or two can pore over the results at www.lamm.co.uk .

more photos from John | John's Blog

John Duff

> top