2004 Coniston

Overall Results

Comments from Robert Saunders, our sponsor

“Congratulations”. “to those: ‘more than expected’ stalwarts; who ‘made it’ to the overnight camp!” The uninvited and much resented severe weather conditions were without doubt the worst that I have ever experienced, – this inasmuch that I have witnessed nothing that has exceeded its persistent ferocity during the 27 years that have elapsed since the inception of the SLMM. I hope that much time will pass before we have the displeasure of experiencing such conditions again.

Maximum demands were imposed upon the Stamina, Determination, Fortitude and the Perseverance of all participants. Attributes, which then became keenly honed; to result in sharpened survival instincts hastening to the fore. For many, it was a blessing to gain the appreciated sight of those checkpoint marshals from the Backpackers Club, those whose presence reassuringly appeared out of the mist and gloom of those forsaken peaks above Coniston. Compass and map reading skills were in particular demand this year. However, and in spite of the described weather conditions, I was pleased, and “I confess”, more than a little surprised with the many complimentary “thank you” letters that I received from those competitors, who stated that; “they had enjoyed” the event.

Regretfully; there were many foul weather retirements, but despair was minimised; inasmuch that fate had obviously anticipated those conditions, and had kindly decided too assist us in coping with; and in some instances, resuscitating mutinous capitulations upon the “will to live”. This was done by simply foreseeing, and earlier dictating, that we were accorded the compensating good fortune; that this year’s venue was to be at the “John Ruskin School”. Where there, we were gifted with the use of excellent camping and parking facilities, plus the use of indoor toilets, with shower and dining facilities, all enhanced with “Wilf’s” outdoor catering expectations.

“Now: some sad news!” – Regrettably, “Martin Bagness can no longer be with us”. Other overdue priorities have crept into Martin’s life, so to dictate that he is no longer able to devote the time that was previously available, to enable him to participate in those aspects of organisation, plus course planning. The fruits of which; have done so much to enhance the reputation of the SLMM. It now falls upon me to confront the difficult task of finding the right calibre of words that will enable me to adequately express my appreciation and thanks for all that he has done. So! With all sincerity, I’ll simply say; “THANKS MARTIN” – But! To dispel despair, you will be pleased to learn that Martin has promised to visit future SLMM’s, and also, to possibly participate.

May I now take this opportunity of introducing: “Mark Hawker” who has agreed to take up the reins, and harness the responsibility for those tasks that were previously embraced by: Martin, – “Mark”, who is endowed with qualified experience, and hails from “Penrith”; has has the familiarity of being a regular Saunders competitor, this year and in the past. The convenience of his residential location has enabled him to become familiar with the area and terrain of the Lake District, so you may expect some interesting future control sites. There will also be an improved flow of information with access to a new web site: www.slmm.org.uk Mark has also been gifted with the experience and involvement with the organisation of other Mountain Marathons.

As can reasonably be expected, there will be some changes, most of which are illustrated on the current SLMM entry form. In addition, and for 2005 only, the “Target” winning times for each course, have been reduced to reflect the actual winning times that were achieved by teams over the last four Saunders events.

This does not mean that the 2005 courses will be any shorter! The purpose is to simply bring the details on the entry form into line with those typical course lengths that were used over the past few events. Whilst on the subject of changes, and to make life easier at Registration, Mark would prefer that the maps be pre-printed to outline “Out of Bounds Areas”. For this and other reasons, it will be necessary to adhere more strictly to the closing dates!

There will be provision on the entry form to purchase either one or two of these maps, at the usual price. It is essential that each team purchase at least one map per team. By the way! “For those of you; who are blessed with lingering memories of Coniston?” There are a few of “this years” – “T” shirts available @ £10.00 each, post free from Saunders.

You may be pleased to learn that Mark was introduced to me by Martin, who is convinced that with Mark; the quality of the Saunders will continue unsurpassed.

I’m sure that you will join me in extending our very best wishes to Martin for the future, and to extend our thanks to him for gifting us with so many pleasant memories. I also extend our best wishes to Mark for his future involvement, and to wish him all success with the SLMM. Whilst in this vein of: “what would we do without them” train of thought! My thanks must also go to Charlotte and her team, Alan Stiling and those members of the Backpackers Club who marshalled the event in such horrid conditions, together with Martin Stone, who is responsible for such speedy results, plus Wilf and his catering team, and daughter Carolyn.

My sincere thanks to Graham Seddon, Richard Higgs and Tony Wilson for their most welcome and appreciated pictorial contributions; these can be admired within the pages of this report, and also to Peter White for his colourful verbalisations. All of whom have made my task that much easier. Gentlemen! “I’m sure I speak for all, when I say “thank you” for adding interest to these results.

I would also like to mention those kind people at the John Ruskin School, who were so helpful with the use of their facilities; also I thank the reassuring presence of those gentlemen from the St John Ambulance organisation, The National Trust and the owners, trustee’s and Farmers of the land over which we traversed. Needless to say, I also thank all of you for your continued involvement and support. This gives reason why the Saunders, not only continues, but goes from strength to strength. Thank you for your participation. Undeterred, I hope to see you in more acceptable climes next year.

Robert Saunders F.R.G.S.

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