Original Mountain Marathon - Overnight Camp

As we finished I was still feeling strong and not near to collapse as I was at the RAB. I was also pleased that the rucksack gave me no trouble even though I was carrying the tent and team food. Just after we finished we downloaded our dibber and went to the camp area. As we had an early start we were also amongst the first to pitch camp. Unfortunately as we reached the field the heavens opened and it was still very gusty. All of the other people already at the camp had the same idea as us which was to pitch tent just behind a stone wall which would act as a shelter. We had to make do a few metres further away.

As we began to put the tent up I was beginning to feel cold as my damp clothing was beginning to take effect. I put on all of my spares on top (so my lower layers will dry themselves) and made sure I had a quick snack to eat as I didn't eat anything over the six hours other than a few jellies and a load of lucozade.
As Steve was finishing the tent I went to the stream to go and get some water. Once things were sorted we hopped inside the tent as by this point it was hammering it down outside. I then began to watch Steve try to blow up his balloon bed which amused me as his fingers were too numb to tie the knots! About 40 minutes later he had everything sorted which was a bit of light entertainment for me!

The next task was to get a brew going, but it was fair to say the pepsi stove we used which burns meths was a total disaster. Basically the wind got to the flame too much and it didn't heat the water very well at all. I did say to him before the event that I thought gas would be better because of high winds forecasted, but to be honest I didn't force the issue. In the end we managed one luke warm cup a soup, luke warm noodles and followed by luke warm coffee as well. We didn't have enough fuel for the second serving of noodles, more coffee or the custard pud. On the plus side I was well stuffed with cola bottles, marsh mellows, chocolate and a kinder surprise (which incidentally was a small car...). Not only was the food luke warm, but a total faff as well - I think the lesson is if in doubt use gas. The only other thing to note was that about half way through cooking the matches got wet so Steve had to go to our neighbours to get a light. It was all a bit of a dent to morale. On the plus side though as Steve was getting a light from another team, he tripped over a guy rope on the way back whilst flames were spurting out from the pepsi stove; how I laughed!

By about 5pm I was starting to get quite cold and figured that it was probably down to my cagoule which I was still wearing being soaked. I was never at the stage of being hypothermic, but cold enough for it to be uncomfortable. I was starting to get miserable (poor Steve being on the receiving end...) I knew that if I was wearing all my clothes now things were only going to get colder during the night. In the end I decided to get my space blanket out, which helped a bit. On the plus side I was glad that I took my better sleeping bag for this event. Even at 5pm I was clock watching, working out how many more hours we had to endure inside the tent! The problem was that because it was raining, it was just a case of being inside the tent the whole evening (we arrived at camp at 2pm). Just to add insult to injury the clocks went back that evening which meant we got an extra hour in bed. Sounds like heaven, but believe me it isn't!

At about 8pm I went out to the stream to get some more water and was in awe of the people still descending down to camp in the pitch black with just the light from the head torches visible. Not long after, with nothing better to do I went to bed.
Lets just say it was a disturbed nights sleep! The wind woke me up quite early on, about 11pm and the wind was howling outside with the rain lashing down. It just got worse and worse to about 2am when I thought the tent wasn't going to be able to take any more. The tent we have is a Terra Nova Argon which weighs just 1.3kg and isn't designed for those sorts of conditions. I think the stability of the tent is pants at the best of times. With each gust the vertical poles were swaying all over the place which was made all the worse as the tent has no horizontal pole, just guy ropes to keep things in place. I was also beginning to feel cold again, but thankfully it was never bad enough for me to begin shivering.

I managed to doze off a few times every now and then, but at 6am the bagpipes began which is a traditional beginning to the day when the OMM visits Scotland. We emerged from our tent at 7am and was surprised to see that the worst of the weather was over with the wind nowhere near as bad as during the night and it was dry with even the sun trying to make an appearance!

Thankfully our tent managed to survive the storm, but there were many stories of those who were not so lucky. I heard one several cases of people having to retreat to the portaloos to spend the night in! This comment from a message board I particularly liked:

"Why, oh why, did I buy those 1g titanium pegs which were on sale the evening before the race? They were almost useless (and I know that I should have realised that just from looking at them)! We ended up using a pencil, some wood we found, and a mess tin handle snapped in two to make a couple of sturdy aluminium pegs. Even so, the tent came down on us at 2am, then we spent an hour in the men's urinals (making hot drinks in the not-so-hygienic surroundings ), followed by five hours in the start/finish tent, hunched in space blankets, along with a steadily increasing crowd of similarly affected competitors. So if anyone saw people shuffling about in the morning clad in a space blanket, they were not wimps, but 'survivors'! I have also heard that SuperSaint spent four hours sat in a portaloo to escape his flooded tent. Any other tales of carnage?"
It was also bizarre to see large chunks of the field flooding with springs that bubbled up during the night. Imagine camping, just to find that at 2am a spring bubbling up underneath your tent! Thankfully we were not affected event though we were just five metres away from it all!

It was then just a case of pack everything away and get ready for the start of Day 2! I was feeling good and hoped that Steve was the same.


  1. Enjoyed your account - it brought back memories.
    On the same night we were in a "toy" single skin tent, bought off ebay for £15, and I was a bit concerned as to how miserable an experience it was going to be. We had it backed right up to a wall, which helped, but I was surprised it lasted the night. However, it did constantly spray condensation on us: even when it wasn't raining outside it was inside.
    We used a Blizzard Tube which kept us dry and amazingly warm. We didn't really need another sleeping bag except to comply with race rules. Blizzard kit is available at furtech.co.uk
    That's me on the inside cover of the results page wearing my "baked potato outfit", looking far more miserable than I felt.
    Cheers, Andy Davison.


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