Last weekend I competed in the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon). I've competed in the competition a few times before,  with Douglas Tullie, but this was our first venture in the most competitive and brutal class - the elite. Despite our inexperience at this level in mountain marathons and our relative youthfulness we were quietly confident that we would be in the mix at the end of the two days of racing. This years race was held in the Scottish mountains bounded at the north and south by the lochs Tay and Earn. 

On the day of the race we ate porridge and a hearty fried breakfast (including the obligatory haggis) before driving to the bus stop where we were ferried in to the area. A winding track up on to the side of the hill from there took us to the start where we waited in the wind and rain popping dextrose tablets. After 20 minutes it was our turn to start and we chose quickly to go over the hill to number 1 which looking back was perhaps not the right decision but I was put off by the bracken that we had seen on the way to the start. We got in to a good rhythm on the way to control 2 and a pack formed when Oli and Rob caught us and then we subsequently caught Tom and Al. We took slightly different lines to 3 and 4 but we always came back together at the controls. 

The decisive leg was number 7. By this point Steve and Jethro had joined the train and they pushed hard on the track leg to get away. Douglas and I dropped back and lost the other three pairs as we tried to stick to our own pace. This paid of when we caught them again on the giant hill not long after. There was a lot of very tired and extremely cold bodies going up that hill and Steve and Jethro pulled away as they seemed to be struggling the least. The top of the hill was thick with clag and cold rain poured down our necks in our rush to escape this we came off the hill too far left and took a while to realise. We arrived at the control with Rob and Oli but unfortunately but they were really struggling and we pulled away. Eventually we reached the campsite in a very wet and cold state after over 38km of racing. We got the tent up as quickly as possible and tried to get warm. After a good few hours in the supine position eating chocolate truffles we cooked our dehydrated meals. I had a bit of disaster with some scrambled eggs which I had been showing off about the previous night to Tom B and Dave S so I had to eat my hat. 

Below is an extremely poorly scanned portion of map that shows the epic number 7 that took us over 2 hrs 20 mins to do. 
The second day started very early as always but to be honest I'd had enough cold uninterrupted sleep and was ready to get going. Duncan and Shane came past us quickly having started just behind us in the chasing start, Steve and Jethro passed soon after. We both silently hoped that they would come back to us and although we caught glimpses of the three teams ahead we were never side by side. We powered home from number 6 and thanks to some good route choices overtook a team to the penultimate control that turned out to be Steve and Jethro to take third place just 5 minutes behind the deserved winners Shane and Duncan (Congratulations to those two!). That result completed a clean sweep for orienteers in the line classes, although perhaps the C class winners should not have been running that class. There were numerous BBC cameras around the hills and we were interviewed at the end so look out for the Adventure Show featuring the competition. 

1    10:56:53    Duncan Archer 6:07:57 (3) 
                         Shane Ohly 4:48:56 (1)
2    10:57:06     Tim Higginbottom 6:01:38 (1) 
                          Chris Near 4:55:28 (3)
3    11:02:44     Douglas Tullie 6:07:38 (2) 
                         John Rocke 4:55:06 (2)

Dave drove expertly back to Sheffield and we had time to stop in Lockerbie for a donner calzone which went down extremely well. Tom also got to experience the greatest service station he has ever seen. Ask him to tell you about it. 

A fantastic video was produced by planet fear of the weekend that depicts the area and the atmospheric nature of the environment incredibly well. We are featured at 3:23 and 4:01. At the end is the piper that played at 6am on Sunday morning. A great start to a day.