LAMM 2010: Race Report – aka ‘Lost Souls’
This was myself and Karens first year to do the LAMM. We had been looking forward to doing it for sometime especially after our experience on the Mourne 2 Day last year. We both knew the Scottish Highlands were going to be alot more difficult but we wern’t afraid to jump right in and “see what happens”.
I had studied the maps from previous years LAMM’s and examined the route choices on RouteGadget of the top teams each year. I knew the nav was going to be very difficult. We both have a good level of fitness and endurance wise we would like to think we are pretty strong. Going into the event navigation would be our weakest point. I had built up some navigation experience during the year but compared to the rest of the field I was a relative newbie. It still didn’t stop us entering the A class!
After last weekend in Carrauntoohil we had little time to get gear, food and our heads into order but somehow we managed. Thanks to Sean for helping us here. We had our tent, cooking equipment and all individual and team mandatory kit in place. We both discussed the food requirements very carefully and went calorie shopping on the Thursday. Calorie shopping is a laugh! With the gear and food in place we packed our bags maticulosy removing any excess packaging and reducing weight where ever possible. We managed to fit everything into my Innov8 22ltr and Karens 22ltr OMM rucksacks.
The Journey Over
We got the ferry to from Belfast at 19:20 on Friday and arrived into Stranraer around 22:30. We then had a 3 hour drive to Cairndow to the Event Centre for this years event. I wanted to get to sleep no later than 1:30 as we would need to be at assembly at 8:00 Saturday morning. We stopped 2 miles short of Cairndow and slept in the back of the jeep which was fitted out with a sleeping matress for the weekend.
After a great nights sleep we registered and had a final bit to eat before heading to the start. We bumped into fellow Adventure Racer Caitiona Nic Caba along the way. It was nice to see a familiar face. On the way to the start we couldn’t help checking out the other teams and the size of their rucksacks. We seemed to hold our own in this department but we certainly seen some teams who had managed to get theirs down smaller. More research required here! The sun was out and conditions were perfect for Mountain Marathoning.
We got our maps and were bused to the start of the race. After collecting our control descriptions we were off! We marked up the 8 controls for day 1 and headed for CP1. All controls had to be hit in order. We rattled off CP1, CP2 and CP3 with relative ease. Some crafty route choice kept us in touch with some all male teams that were moving a little faster than us. We were both moving really well and had found our rythm. At CP3 we had our first major route choice. The options were to go back down a valley and take the flatter much longer route around to CP4 or take the pain and climb the shorter route. As always we “took the pain”. Over one climb we went back down to a Resavoir and onto a second climb up to CP4. It was steep, steeper than anything either of us had ever experienced “a hands and knees job”. Up over this climb, looking over our shoulder we could see some of the teams we had met down at CP3 so we’d made the correct decision. On the way up to CP4 we spotted another mixed team (Iain & Sarah Walker). We flipped quickly into hunting mode and passed them on the way from CP4 to CP5 accelerating as we went bye. We started catching more all male teams at this point and another good route choice got us to CP6 ahead of the pack. We wasted a few minutes searching for CP7. After that we could see the mid camp and CP8 in the distance and we raced hard home.
We were both shattered. We raced hard all day. Only stopping to walk on the severe climbs. Putting up the tent was an achievement! We warmed ourselves and got some food in. We both came around and after looking at the Day 1 results we were delighted with our days work. Second mixed team after day 1 and our route choice was almost exactly the same as the overall leaders in the A Class. The only damper on the evening was my right knee had started to hurt toward the end of the day. The contouring that day had taken its toll. I spent most the evening limping around the mid camp. A few Difene and Neurofen Plus did little to ease the pain but I was still hopefull of starting day 2 and again “see what happens”.
Another great nights sleep over us we awoke to find a misty morning at the mid camp. Peering out the tent I commented “shit I don’t like the look of this”. After a “light” breakfast we packed up the tent and bags and headed for the start. The mist was down and visibility was poor. Taking my bearings carefully at the start and through to CP3 we were doing really well. My knee however wasn’t. We were reduced to walking from CP3 to CP4. CP4 was a reentrant and we had major difficulty pinpointing its exact location. The mist, a series of minor reentrants and white moss on rocks making it very difficult to spot the orienteering flag. We knew we were close and circled eventually finding it. We headed for a lake at CP5 again working off a bearing with very little features around us. We made it close to CP5 and found another larger lake close bye. We took a bearing off the lake and found CP5 easy enough. CP6 was another lake and We found it pretty easy again following a bearing.
CP7 was a nightmare. Conditions were really bad and looking at the map we were going to have to take a couple of bearings to get us even close. The first bearing was to a summit close bye. The rain and wind were howling but we made it to the top. The next bearing would take us down and onto a flat plain. This was difficult. My knee wasn’t liking it one bit but we made it. The next bearing was to another summit close to CP7 which would have a control on it for another course (E,B,C,D we didn’t know). The plan was to take a bearing off this control to CP7 which would be very close. We hit the summit and found the control from the other course, took or bearing and walked toward what we hoped would be a reentrant and CP7. We searched and searched but found nothing. We returned to the control on the summit and took a bearing again and still found nothing. The mist would clear every now and again and we would spot forrests and streams and they would all add up the where we were on the map yet we couldn’t find the control. After a long time searching it was getting late and we reluctantly decided to head for the finish.
The Journey back to the finish…
We were both very disapointed. At this point we just wanted to get home as quick as possible. The plan now was to pick up a road in the middle of a forrest which would eventually lead us back to the finish. We spotted “the” forrest as the mist cleared when looking for CP7 and we headed in that direction. Both pretty miserable and dissapointed we marched on to the forrest. Hungry we tucked into some of our Powerbar gels as we descented into the forrest. I’ve always had trouble with the taste of gels but this particular gel at this particular moment tasted devine. We got to the forrest and onto a road which had signs marked exit. Things didn’t add up exactly to what was on the map but we wern’t paying attention as this point. We felt we were on the way home. After walking for along time we slowely began to re enter civilisation passing a number of houses. We knew we hadn’t come down the road in the forrest as we planned but it was too late now. We would eventually hit a main road if we continued. A transit van came down the road at this point and we flagged it down. “We’re lost” we told him. “Any chance you could tell us where we are and possibly give us a lift to Cairndow?” A local man, he was just after a few quiet bevvys in the house and was on his way to pick up his son who was coming back from the pub. After looking at the map he showed us our exact location. “Oh my God” We were a long way from Cairdow. About 8 miles! He agreed to take us down to the main road where we could thumb a lift back. We picked up his son along the way, who was in great “spirits”. He even managed a “wee tune”:)
We got to the main road and jumped out of the van thanking the man for his help. Immediatly a Police car went bye and I flagged it down. Funny enough the Mountain Rescue were coming the opposite direction on the road at the exact same time. Oh shit!
“Are you looking for us” I said.
“Are you Karen Dooooogan?” – Mountain Rescue
“She is” I replied.
“Ah na see bad then” – Mountain Rescue
This was followed by the line “We’re sooo sorry” – Finbar & Karen repeatidly.
We were given a lift back to the Event Centre by the Police man who was able to bring me up to date with all that happened in the World Cup over the weekend. Back at the Event Centre we were debriefed by race organiser Martin Stone and we determined exactly where we had went wrong on our way to CP7. A number of things conspired against us and eventually lead to us being lost en route to CP7. This meant that when we eventually decided to head for home we were “heading home” in the wrong direction.
To say we made a nav error and got lost would be too simple an explanation for what exactly happened. In order to understand exactly what went wrong myself and Karen have had to take a long hard look at ourselves. Going into the event navigation was our weakest point. It still is our weakest point and will be for some time. We still managed to put in a more than respectable time on the Saturday and the final results on Sunday suggest that we wern’t the only ones to struggle with the conditions. The real problem is quiet common among fellow Adventure Racers. We left it too late to call it a day and head for home. This was not an Adventure Race after all. We really should have called it quits after CP3 but the taught never entered our heads. The conditions were poor and my knee had reduced us to walking pace from CP4 on. We showed a complete lack of respect to the race organisers on this part. We would like to appologies to Martin, Mountain Rescue and everyone else involved and thank them for their patience and help on Sunday. We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience caused.
We’ve learned our lesson. See you next year