I began to question my judgement!
When my son asked me if he could do the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon now he was 14 I agreed, only later did find out that as he was under 18 his partner had to be one of his parents…. Now, several months later, stood in Mosedale with one competitor already carried off with a broken leg before the start, I began to question my judgement. It was, at a rough reckoning, 22 years since I had last attempted anything like this, and my training had been cut short by a fall off a pony and then tonsillitis leading up to the event. My belief that the easy courses would not go high was also being challenged by our location, there didn’t seem to be an easy way out!
When we were handed the control descriptions and I saw ‘Windy Gap’ as one of the control sites the reality hit me. There is no such thing as an easy mountain marathon.
The Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM) is a two day mountain navigation event open to teams of two. Competitors navigate between checkpoints and the first day ends at a half way camp. Camping and safety equipment must be carried.
We were competing in the Beadfell class, and our Day 1 route took us initially up Pillar and Black Fell before Windy Gap, then around Red Pike and Haycock before camping near Swainson Knot.
Despite being slow I knew that I could navigate well and keep going all day, so our aim was not to make any navigational mistakes and to keep moving all day. We managed this well, despite me being considerably slower than Oscar who kept patiently waiting, eating wine gums on route and drinking from every stream. Our Day 1 time was 5 hours and 33 mins, half an hour behind the leaders. We were in 6th place.
We had to take part in the chasing start on Day 2 at 7.45 am. Incredibly there were other people on our course with a time within 30 seconds of ours!. This gave the second day an added excitement and we were even more determined not to stop. Contouring around Yewbarrow after climbing up Seatallan we overtook one of our rival teams, and pushed on to the finish in Wasdale. We were 5th, and received a prize for the first mixed pair.
After washing in the stream we had to have a kit check to make sure we had carried all the required equipment. The most valuable piece of kit? My indispensable Rohan Daybreak Vest. A layer of warmth and snugness at the camp, and a comfy pillow. Bliss.
Andrea Meanwell – The Lake District Fell Ponies Centre
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