A very delayed write up about the LAMM
1 long bonk. A little minor chafing. Bath loads of sweat, and a surprising 6th overall on the elite course. An unforgettable event in one of the UK's most spectacular and least trodden mountainous areas.
First MM in 2 years, however with our Cairngorm 4000s and lots of big hill walks in Tassie, I thought that overall our form was better than the Highlander, so as long as we ate and drank enough, we should be able to get round respectably.
With most teams setting off within 10mins of each other, it felt a bit too racey at the beginning, very easy to go too hard to early. It was very sweaty already by 8am, thus we knew that keeping hydrated would be a battle, made even harder by very dry hills.
Things were going nicely for the first 4 hours, eating and drinking well and keeping up pace with the other teams - except for Tim & Ali and the Gomersalls, they were long gone!
I was very lucky and that I was able to neck a whole bottle of water at each stream (every 60-90mins), then fill it up again and head off. Even so, I was struggling to keep hydrated. Unfortunately Liam wasn't managing to take on nearly enough food or drink, and so things began to go downhill from 5hrs (punching #9) and didn't really recover. Having been nicely matched until this point, I began pulling away and waiting around a bit for Liam to catch up. This is frustrating for both of us. It took another 2 hours before I had the bright idea of taking some of the group kit off Liam to lighten his pack and even us out a bit. It was at this point that we concluded that MMs are not fun at all.
Thanks to the light pack, Liam basically sprinted up the hill to Loch Aiseabhat and I was struggling to keep up. Yes here we go again I thought! Unfortunately the wall from hell up Tioga Mor put pay to those optimistic thoughts, and we were back to the same issue of me being too fast. On the summit (#10), we had a good 5-10min sit down where Liam scoffed a packet of Mini Cheddars. This seemed to do the trick nicely, since for the first time in 2.5hrs he felt great!
A slight miss on the the final checkpoint of the day wasted 3mins or so, before we dropped down into what must be one of the most scenic MM campsites of all time. Incredibly there were virtually no midges either?! We agreed soon after finishing that MM's aren't actually that bad after all.
Things got off to a bumpy start. 3 spoons of porridge and Liam was almost sick! Not ideal preparation for 8hrs or so on the hills. We agreed that I should continue carrying the group kit, and if I was suffering, then we could redistribute the gear.
Setting off a bit slower than yesterday, we plodded along at our own pace, not worrying about position, merely aiming to get around whilst minimising the amount of bonkyness along the way. At #2, we had a laugh with Gregor and Katie about poor Bash and Oleg who had missed the control and were busy climbing up even higher into the clag. Bash later said he could hear my voice echoing through the mist but had no idea which direction it was coming from!
Our spirits perked up further when we passed Tom Saville and Tim Martin, looking a bit lost on the way to #3, however learning from our experience yesterday, we knew there was still plenty of time to crash into an endless pit of bonkyness. Climbing well up onto Uisgneabhal Mor, I had to stop and faff around a bit as my chafe prevention tape had come undone and things in the groin area were fast becoming unpleasant. Sadly due to the bucket loads of sweat, the new tape didn't have a hope of sticking, so had to stop again 2mins later and apply life saving Vaseline. This was promptly washed away when I fell in a stream 15mins later. Not ideal.
Time and kms slipped by with no incidents, and we began to feel optimistic that we might just complete day 2 without a bonk. We could see 3 groups climbing up Todun (#7) but it was impossible to know who they were.
On the way down to the bridge on leg 9 we could see that we'd gained time on 2 of the 3 groups we'd seen earlier. The first couple were the Swedish boys who must have set off hours before us. The 2nd was a real shocker, Tim (without a bag) and Ali (with 2 bags). It was clear they were in a sorry state. Recognising us wasn't enough to reignite the fire in their bellies and we simply plodded away from them. Liam asked why I was so rude and never offered to carry his pack, it was clear that Tim must have been feeling pretty rough!
All downhill from #10 to the finish and spirits were soaring! We put in a little effort to the finish line, it felt like we were shifting, but we were probably not doing any faster than 6min/km.
It was great to finish to the paparazzi photography of Bash, catching the magical moment of us reaching the end after 18:40hrs, 87km and almost 5000m of climb. We were surprised and delighted to learn that we were 4th fastest on day 2, and had improved our overall position to 6th. Not expecting that at all!
A huge amount of respect to the organiser Martin Stone and the team of people who worked hard to bring the biggest ever sporting event to the Outer Hebrides. To compete in our first, and the final ever LAMM is bittersweet. It was a fantastic event which I will never forget, and am truly gutted that I'll never again get the chance.