Many thanks to all who contributed. These comments are really valuable and even those of us who have completed many Mountain Marathons picked up new tips.
Don’t carry too much, train and enjoy! Try a low-key orienteering event. Tell your partner you may get cross with each other but it’s only temporary. Look out for how each other are feeling, encourage them to eat/drink etc. Keep checking in with each other and keep a sense of humour!
Don’t start too fast or worry about placing well but just enjoy
The best training you can have for a MM is to go out and get off the paths and get your legs used to being on the rough stuff.
Start snacking before you think you need to. Your body will thank you 5-6 hours in.
All the other competitors are very friendly at the midway camp. Make friends and learn some of their expertise.
Enter a course lower than you think you can do so that you enjoy your first time. The following years, go harder once you know what harder means
Please ensure you take the time to choose an appropriate course. e expected which was frustrating but meant we could finish.
Be ruthless with what you take – if it isn’t on the mandatory list and doesn’t serve multiple purposes then do you really need to take it?
Do it just for fun, you will have a great time.
Take lots of food and eat all of it.
Pay attention to your navigation at all times – silly mistakes will cost you time, places and lots of frustration.
Do everything on the move. It’s amazing how much time is lost through stopping to plan, eat, faff, etc.
Enter, it’s brilliant and you will really enjoy it. Do read all the competitor information that is sent out and pay attention to the details of essential kit, safety recommendations etc. It is there to save you should the worst happen and it can happen in the mountains. Be prepared and anything can be dealt with
This is a common one, and I didn’t think of it – plastic bags to keep your socks dry at the overnight camp.
Allow an extra few minutes planning time at the start
If you are thinking of doing a Mountain Marathon for the first time, then the S.L.M.M. Is definitely the one to do. Never “too” wild and at the right time of year, long daylight hours, whatever the weather. BUT beware, unless you have experience elsewhere, ALWAYS enter a course below your expectations, as the stated straight line distances are ALWAYS a lot tougher than they look. It is ALWAYS better to find your right level by doing well and moving up, rather than being thrashed and demoralised and then moving down. I have never known of a first time winner not returning, but have seen many new teams D.N.F. and disappear forever. The stats show that the middle courses usually have the biggest D.N.F. rates and this must be, in part at least, simply people biting off more than they can chew. After all, we do this for “fun” and, hopefully, for the long term, so don’t rush it
People should be aware that this is a mountain marathon and expect it to be challenging and expect to encounter mountain terrain (bog/rocks/ditches) and height gain and a certain amount of discomfort… it all makes it very rewarding when you complete it, but need to be aware of what you are letting yourself in for.
Get an entry in, best mountain marathon event by far, about the terrain, not the money making. As it should be.
If you learn to navigate, you don’t have to be a super speedy mountain goat to complete and enjoy mountain marathons.
Try the score class as it limits how long you are out each day. I personally think score classes are more fun and anyone coming from orienteering will understand the format. Oh and don’t skimp on food.
Practise navigation on rough ground with a Harvey’s map. Include lots of ascent and descent in your training.
Get out and practice on a previous year’s course to see what it is like and if it is for you
Bring spare socks
Get out in the hills and practice running with a pack. Get used to going up and down and then back up and down again!! Spend a bit of time double checking controls before you leave.
If you see a lake or river and you are deciding whether to swim, go for it!
Expect to walk a bit further than you expect so bring a spare pair of socks; expect a few blisters – we both got them – so take a few blister plasters (which we didn’t…). And if the sun is shining carry a small reserve water bottle as you don’t know your hydration pack is running-out until it’s too late. Oh – and finally – be prepared to smile a lot – you’ll love it!
Train with your partner before the event on similar terrain if possible.
Make sure you can use a map and compass, even if the weather forecast is sunny!
Remember to take a minute to forget about your exhaustion and pain to appreciate the views, where you are and how fortunate you are to be there.
Please don’t sit on top of the control kites! It makes them hard to spot.
Train a lot harder than you might think!
Do a test run with your partner so you understand each others strengths and limitations (ie at least one long day in the hills navigating)
First timers should not be put off thinking that this is an event for superhuman racers. You need to be able to navigate well, and train by running, carrying a pack and getting up some hills – the more the better!
It is an excellent adventure that is very enjoyable. A good level of general fitness is all that is is required in my opinion. I regularly run 20-25 miles per week in 5-8 mile runs only. I do not run longer distances in training and found the fitness side very straightforward. You don’t need to be an ultra-runner/ marathon runner to take part as bouts of running are interspersed frequently with walking, scrambling up steeper slopes and trotting. Lovely!
Look at the previous course stats (SLMM need to give a realistic average of course distances/climb from previous events, straight line stats are just not realistic) to help decide the level you want to compete at, be careful what you buy/carry look at the weights, get some good hill training in as well as navigation practice, it’s the climbs that will get you and where you can make up lots of time if your fit enough to take them head on.
The occasional look around at the spectacular scenery or a short chat/break with your partner is worth a few seconds
The event is well run and you are made to feel welcome from the moment you arrive. However, unless you enter with an experienced competitor you need to be prepared both physically and mentally. Whilst the scenery is breath-taking, the terrain and mountains are unforgiving and if you are not an accomplished map reader or navigator you will find the event incredibly challenging, even at the so-called “easier” levels. That said, the challenge and sense of achievement when you finish leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Relax, talk to other teams ask for help. It is such a friendly event.
Train for hills and rough terrain. An obvious comment but coming from the south east this harder than it would appear
You’ll get loads of blisters on the small sharp rocks, bring really good socks – it’s worth it.
Make sure to take high density food with you and have a bit every 5/6k or so. bring lots of plastic bags, including ones for your feet. Bring a good amount of food for the evening.
Try and get some experience in the mountains, as it’s totally different up there. Get your orienteering on point, if I did it again I’d spend less time in the gym and more time studying
There is a bit of assumed knowledge for a first timer like I was this time, for example chasing starts bit there are plenty of friendly fellow competitors to ask.
Get out there and spend as much time as possible navigating (old tech) in the hills.
We asked 2018 competitors to let us know if there was something , other than Mandatory Kit that was particularly useful, or something they didn’t take but wish they had taken.The list turned out to be a lot longer than expected!
A wide brimmed sun hat
Midge head net
Water purification tablets
Blister specific plasters
2L water container
Cap with neck cover/flap
Glasses with prescription for reading
Spare running top and socks
Buff to wet and put round neck for cooling.
Lightweight cap with visor
Inflatable pillow. Hardly any weight and a better night’s sleep.
A gas stove extended foot, so much safer than just the canister on the ground.
Long handled titanium spoons for eating overnight food
A collapsible cup for scooping water out of streams whilst on the move.
Pillow and earplugs
Phone for decent pictures – pleased you now allow this in the rules.
Toothbrush and paste.
Ultralight walking poles
A meat and potato pie for Sunday breakfast.
A white peaked hat, purchased at the last minute
Plastic foot bags.
Swiss army knife (climbers model) and duct tape
A small flexible cup to grab a drink often whilst running
Sun hat with wide brim all round
Zip lock plastic bags as water carriers at camp
A crossword puzzle for Sat evening
A bottle of wine for the overnight camp, decanted into a plastic water bottle which reverted back to its main function (water) on Sunday
Insect repellent wipes
Talc to help avoid blisters
OS Maps, not used to Harveys
Many thanks for all the positive comments from those who completed our survey. Thanks also to those who made suggestions for improvements-we have added them to our list of things to consider for next year rather than publish here.
“Great introduction to mountain marathons in delightful scenery” – Thomas Hague
“The SLMM would be a great first event for a family or friend pairing. It’s very well organised and friendly, with the bonus of being able to pre-order drinks for the overnight camp. The courses offer a great challenge in beautiful scenery”. Nickcompass44
“High quality event organised by people who know what they are doing and who do it well” John Coon
“Don’t underestimate the navigational aspects of the course – this is something that always gets me. Most importantly, see the SLMM as a great weekend out – the atmosphere is always lovely and the banter fun. It’s an event for everyone, with such a wide range of entrants and fitness levels. I was cynical, but now I’m hooked (and sore…)” Imogen Jones
“As I first time competitor I was quite worried that I would be too slow and would need to run the majority of the course. I found the course I entered to be really enjoyable, incredibly friendly and within my ability. Definitely a brilliant introduction to Mountain Marathons (although the weather was a great help!!)”Roz
“2018 was not only my first Saunders but my first mountain marathon as well. I’m told the weather is as sunny as that every year… It was a joy from start to finish – low key but very efficiently organised, with lovely people, an absorbing score class in Fairfield and the backdrop of the Lakes in blisteringly hot conditions to add to the challenge. The overnight camp was huge fun and everything we needed to recover just enough to do it all over again the following day. I’ll definitely be back, hopefully with either my son or daughter to do Bedafell or Carrock as they would enjoy the whole experience, Who knows, it may even be sunny next year! Thanks” Alan Dorrington
“A really friendly event in such a beautiful part of the country. Great community feel”. Paul K
“First time at the SLMM 2018 loved the event, well organised and challenging highly recommended”. Shaun Boorman
“The best mountain marathon in one of the most spectacular places in the UK”. Sharon McDonald
“Excellent, friendly, well-organised mountain marathon” – Ian Hamilton
“I think the S.L.M.M. is truly a unique and great event, but I may be biased as I have done the last 30 of them, including planning the 2013 event. The Lake District is a wonderful area and it is truly a privilege to compete in this event at this time of year. I have seen many changes over the years and the event continues to evolve, at pace over the last two or three years, to keep it up to date, but also to keep the traditional “feel ” going, did someone mention beer?. There is simply no better way to spend two days in early July than doing the S.L.M.M., and now that it is a “not for profit Community Interest Company”, there’s even more reason to support this great event and this wonderful part of the country, can’t wait for next year. See you there” Brian Layton.
“A fantastic 2 day event. Well organised and great fun” David Oldfield.
“SLMM is the best weekend away – it’s totally absorbing, it is always in upliftingly lovely countryside and whatever was only your mind at home is quickly forgotten. ”Amanda, St.Albans
“The Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon is an excellent event, well organised by friendly volunteers and gives an excellent challenge”Ian Sayer
“The Saunders continues to be a well-run, friendly event in excellent terrain. Thanks to all of those involved in putting the event on. See you next year”. The Hindles
“What a fantastic event, and what cheerful volunteers. The terrain was great and the organisation outstanding. Thank you to all the people involved and I will definitely be back next year!” Jacques Penderis
“Great event! First daytime MM and loved it. Can’t wait to come back for more. So well run! “Chris Barnard
“Great event that tests your navigation skills and endurance” Mark Lath
“The SLMM has the uncanny knack of making running with a pack up hill over difficult terrain following a compass bearing a pleasurable experience!” Jon Griffiths
“Two years ago I decided to run a mountain marathon and began looking around for the perfect one. The SLMM was the first event of this type that my dad ran (40 years ago) and it felt right that I should enter the SLMM in its 40th year. It was hot, intense but thoroughly enjoyable. Wansfell provided an excellent introduction for me, I’m already hooked and marking this event on next year’s calendar! Thank you to the event organisers and supporters who were brilliant.” Sally Parkin
Congratulations to everyone who took part at the weekend. Conditions were really tough, given the heat and very light breeze. Ironically this was the first year we had an official set of pre-planned bad weather courses…
Congratulations also to Nev, for planning a set of courses which provided a good mix of route choice and detailed navigation.
We attempted to be more scientific in working out appropriate course lengths this year. We analysed results from the last 12 Saunders MMs, taking into account the actual distance and climb on the “best” route (rather than those given on the descriptions), to come up with a variant of “Naismith’s Rule for the top teams on each course. This was then used to check that the planned courses would give the required winning time.
Judging from the results and competitor feedback, it would seem that we got it wrong for the Wansfell, Harter, Carrock and Kirkfell courses, while Klets, Bowfell and Bedafell were about right. Also we expected the winner to just about get all of the controls on Fairfield which proved to be the case.
We’ve attempted to understand the reasons in the hope of improving things in future years. We think there are three main factors involved:
We add our apologies to Nev’s regarding the control on the bridge at the start of day 2. We’ll remember this for the future.
Hopefully see you next year.
Dan and Karen Parker
Controllers 2018 SLMM
I was asked if I would like to plan the SLMM 2018 in the summer last year. When informed of the area to be used I had no hesitation in saying yes. I live in Oxford and became very familiar with the M6 over the subsequent months!
I appreciated being the first to have a go at planning the new Fairfield course, with its unusual format. When I plan orienteering score courses I try to spread the highest points controls evenly around the area used. Often planners place them far away and up big hills where only the very fit can go, virtually guaranteeing that they top the results. A more even spread makes them think more, whilst enabling the less fit to get a satisfying number of points. It was pleasing to see such a large entry for this course
For the linear courses I had two main aims. One was to offer some interesting route choices, and the nature of the terrain certainly gave opportunities for this. The other was to reduce “crocodiles” forming up, particularly on Sunday. I tried to do this by circulating the courses in opposing loops. For example, Harter went NE on Saturday and SW on Sunday, Carrock SW and NE.
Winning times vary from too short to about right, and too long. The Controllers Report explains how we arrived at the course lengths and climbs, so I won’t repeat that here.
I must apologise for the lengthy queue at control 114 on Sunday morning. I’ve planned countless orienteering events and appreciate the need for multiple SI boxes at busy sites. We failed to make the connection between the big mass start and the number of competitors very soon arriving at the bridge. That lesson will be learnt.
I would like to thank the Controllers, not just for checking things out on the hills but also for a considerable amount of behind-the-scenes administration work.
My thanks also go to those who kindly volunteered to bring in controls on a hot Sunday afternoon.
Planner 2018 SLMM