Advice from our competitors for those new to Mountain Marathons

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.

Scroll to top