On the 29th and 30th of October I did the Elite OMM with Jean Brown. After saying last year that I didn't think there would be three Ladies teams entered for a while - there was actually three this year! So our competition was a pair of very good Scottish orienteer's and a pair of Swedish orienteer's! As neither me nor Jean are orienteer's we said we would have to concentrate and work hard!
After finishing 30 minutes after the cutoff on Sunday in 2015 we were originally awarded 1st Ladies prize and shown as Finished. However after some people complained we were still shown on the results with a time and position but shown as "Timed Out". So once again our objective was really to finish!
The organisors had listened to our feedback and allocated us early starts on both days which was reassuring. The weather was warm 12C overcast with some light rain on Saturday, then dry and warm 9C overnight with no wind, then dry, overcast and warm on Sunday. So I opted for my Inov8 Merino with Long tights as I'm a wimp and thought we would be out for hours. I had also been suffering with tight calves and so wanted to keep my calves warm and protected. I intended to set off in my Inov8 Stormshell and take it off when the rain stopped as it was forecasted to. On my feet of course trusty Mudclaws !
Jean and I drove up on Friday night and I was interviewed by Clare from the Trail Running magazine at Registration which was entertaining! I slept in my van in the carpark which was lovely and quiet. But I learnt in the morning that the campsite was very noisy and the music carried on until midnight which meant poor Jean had little sleep. We set off in good time to the Start - 5km walk - which took forever so we were glad we were early! Setting off the weather was worse than forecast with steady rain and thick clag. We made good progress through the day opting for a high level route from 1 to 2 as had Jon Whilock and Bryan. Climbing Merrick the Scottish ladies jogged passed us chatting away. Oh well we thought - No pressure there then! It was a good route choice and the faster men teams came flying passed as we dropped out the clag to the CP. Then there were a couple of fiddly direct lines and one awful descent through the worse tussocks ever. I kept falling over and once nearly immersed myself in a pond which had me swearing as I got soaked to the waist. From then on I got cold and wasn't very happy. Climbing Merrick again I managed to warm up and was a lot happier then. I remembered The Grey Man of Merrick rock face from the Heart of Granite race in 2006 and so knew what we were looking for which helped. It was great to return to that location as in 2004 and 2006 when I had ran the Heart of Granite race it was a lovely place with a great view down the valley. No views today though and a lot of mud! We kept overtaking then being overtaken by Jon and Bryan until then when we just stayed together as it had started raining harder and the clag was thick. We were all getting tired and it was still a long way home! All of us were making sure we were on a bearing and picking out features. The maps also started to disintegrate so at least we had four to choose from! It took all our wits to find CP 10 a re-entrant but with loads of other points and paths close by. Jean spotted the cairn in the end which was our marker and we soon located the re-entrant then. Down we ran to the final CP's and the Finish.
We finished 16th, about 1.30 hours behind the Scottish ladies and 30 minutes ahead of the Swedish! We pitched our tent in a sheltered spot on a bed of bracken that I pulled up and laid underneath. Last year I had been cold overnight so I had packed thermal tights, a spare Inov8 Merino which was great with it's hood and long arms. Over that I wore my OMM Sonic Smock and also had bought an Alpkit Pipedream 200 and an Alpkit Numo sleeping mat This year it was warmer but I had the best night's sleep ever on a OMM and actually only slept in the merino top. Unfortunately my knickers were still drenched from my dunking but with the help of hand towels from the portaloos I was able to dry them overnight! All our other running clothes were drenched and very unpleasant in the morning but being "ard" we grimaced and at least Sunday was supposed to be a dry day! Jon woke us up at 6am with his bagpipes and came right passed our tent being filmed by the BBC! We were very impressed at his playing, walking and not tripping up!
Setting off on Sunday in our waterproofs it was obvious it was going to be a better day but there was still clag on the tops. We made a mistake taking the wrong path straight away which was annoying as the Swedish ladies passed us. As we climbed to CP2 we caught Jon and Bryan again, then when we got there the Swedish ladies were approaching from another direction. As we left we said "Come on, let's make no more mistakes". Running up into the clag we were with Jon and Bryan and we ran to CP3 near one another. From there it was tricky and we discussed the options. Low or high. We went high then direct which worked well as the ground was ok. From then we did a bit more straight lining as the terrain was ok and it's the way I usually navigate as I'm not very good at working out route options! Between us we had started talking about 8 to 9. A massive long leg with forests in between. With my distrust of forest rides I preferred the high option and Jean then spotted a path which led to a wall and then a slightly fiddly but good route across. That's what we did and it worked really well. We were all very chuffed with it. And the fact that we seemed to now be comfortably ahead of the cutoffs. CP9 to CP10 led us again into the forests. Jon was keen on forest rides and we came to a compromise of tracks and rides. Again it worked well. Leaving the CP a sheep fold in the dense forest the option was a forest ride but leaving the wall we were bashing through trees. I spotted daylight and greenery to my right and dived across - it was the ride - yippee! I called the others and we ran down it. Right then left down another forest ride took us to the track. Bryan was bionic on all flat track running and shot off. Me and Jean struggled to keep up especially as my left toe had broken through the sock and I was painfully wearing it out! Lots of horrid track and paths led us to the last CP and then a nice boggy path to the finish which was much better than trail running for me!
At the Finish we had a Team photo and then an interview with Scottish BBC Adventure show. We finished 16th overall and 2nd Ladies, 1st Lady Vets. The Swedish ladies also finished just 10 minutes inside the cutoff. But out of 47 teams entered and 33 that started there were 19 teams that finished, all three ladies teams and one mixed team. OMM 2016 Results
It was a great weekend. Thanks to the organisors who had listened to our feedback and altered the start times, the cutoffs and the course lengths. The organization was brilliant and I look forward to competing again next year!