|Above: Muncaster Castle... a spectacular setting for the inaugural Marmot Dark Mountains™|
The inaugural Marmot Dark Mountains™ is being held in the southwest Lake District based at the spectacular Muncaster Castle. This historic ‘haunted’ castle has been the residence of the Pennington Family since 1208 and we are grateful for their permission to use this fantastic venue, which is otherwise closed to the public during January.
If you and your family or friends would like to make a weekend of it, please check out the special accommodation offers below.
Most of the event area has a remote and mountainous moorland nature but is below 500m. Due to the relatively low elevation it often avoids the worst of the winter weather that can be experienced on the higher Lakeland fells. However, being close to the sea, poor weather can quickly blow through and conditions do change rapidly.
Although the area is low in elevation, it more than compensates for this with some very technical terrain with complex contours, rocky crags and areas of featureless moorland. Indeed, the 2012 British Orienteering Champs used some of this area to test the best navigators in the country! Excellent navigation, careful use of the terrain features and a cautious approach are likely to be a rewarding strategy.
Conditions underfoot are reasonable for a mountain marathon despite the very wet weather in recent months. As you gain height, the ground generally becomes firmer and we would certainly advise competitors to avoid any bog or marshland. We have added a few new areas of bog and marshland to the event map, which are not marked on the standard OS map.
There is also rocky ground including cliffs to contend with and competitors are strongly advised to be very cautious when approaching steep ground in the dark. If it is snowy or icy on the night of the event, extreme caution will be required in some areas and micro-spikes maybe appropriate (see comments on kit below).
Directions and Car Parking
If you are using a SatNav the postcode for Muncaste Castle is: CA18 1RQ.
The postal address is: Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria.
As you approach along the A595 please lookout for the Muncaster Castle ‘Car Park’ signs. The car park is on hard standing with sufficient space for all the competitors if everyone parks considerately. The exact location of the car park is here.
From the car park there is a 700m walk to the Event Centre. We suggest that competitors bring a change of clothes and any additional food, clothing and equipment they may want to access immediately after the event to this location.
The Car Park will not be open to competitors’ vehicles until 1600 on Saturday.
We will be using the excellent Muncaster Castle visitor centre facilities for our Event Centre. Everything is indoors and includes Race HQ, Registration, Kit Check, Toilets and Café. The facilities will be open to competitors from 1600.
Competitors may leave bags (at their own risk) in the main Race HQ / Registration room at the Event Centre as this room will be manned throughout the event.
Competitors will need to allow sufficient time to walk from the Car Park to the Event Centre, register and complete a kit check and then walk back to the start. The route to the start passes the Cark Park. We estimate that registration and kit check may take 40 minutes at peak times.
- Cark Park to Event Centre is 700m. Allow 10 minutes
- Event Centre to Start is 1.9km. Allow 20 minutes
On the Saturday evening, the visitor centre café should be open serving hot drinks and food but we are waiting for final confirmation on this (we will update this section once confirmed).
Once competitors have finished and downloaded they will handed a meal ticket for their breakfast, which will be served in the visitor centre café. The visitor centre café will be open from 0600 through to 1200 on Sunday morning.
Hot drinks will also be available at the finish from 0530 through to 1200. If competitors withdraw during the night, hot drinks will also be available from the event HQ while the café is closed.
Registration and Kit Check
Registration opens at 1700 and all competitors will need to register, collect their SI Dibber, sign the disclaimer and present their race bags for a full kit check (i.e. competitors race bags must contain all the items on the mandatory kit list). Any competitors missing an item from the mandatory kit list will not be allowed to start. Competitors will only be able to register together with their race partner. All category winners will be kit checked at the finish. We will also randomly check other competitors’ kit at the finish.
Clothing and Equipment
Competitors’ feet will get wet and are likely to get very cold, especially if the weather is poor, if appropriate precautions are not followed. We strongly advise competitors to wear warm, thick socks with a second waterproof or neoprene layer. Even though it is inevitable that competitors’ feet will still get wet, with a waterproof or neoprene outer layer, the water in the socks will gradually warm up, much like a wetsuit.
Good quality, warm gloves are important. We would recommend that competitors have windproof outer gloves to wear over warm, insulated inner gloves. Waterproof gloves may well be appropriate if the weather is poor on the night.
If there is a period of cold weather before the event or plummeting temperatures on the night of the event, snow and ice are very likely. In these conditions we would strongly advise competitors to wear microspikes such as the ones available from Kahtoola.
We strongly advise each team to have an altimeter. Altimeters must work from atmospheric pressure and will need to be calibrated regularly to remain accurate.
If a competitor’s headtorch fails they will be in serious trouble, so we would advise teams to carry at least one spare headtorch (with spare batteries) between them. Competitors should note that cold conditions significantly degrade battery performance… carry spares!
Any device that is GPS enabled is banned from the event. This includes watches (such as the Suunto Ambit or Gamin Forerunner) and mobile phones. Any competitors found with a GPS device will be disqualified. If competitors wish to take a mobile phone with them on the hill that also has GPS capability, the phone must be presented at registration, where it will be sealed in tamperproof bag.
Safety on the Hill
It is relatively easy to stay warm for a few hours of winter night running. However, a full night on the hill will bring different challenges and as competitors alternately sweat and then cool, become more fatigued and often slow down towards the end of the event, they can become much colder than they would normally expect. If in any doubt about the warmth of the clothing to be worn or carried, it is much better to run hot (especially in the wet), than risk getting cold. Competitors will be carrying sufficient kit to camp out for the night if necessary and we strongly advise competitors to make camp rather than risk continuing should they become very cold.
These are the planner’s optimum distances and height gains for each course:
- C Course: 30.7km / 1,400m
- B Course: 35.3km / 1,600m
- A Course: 41.1km / 1,900m
- Elite Course: 51.4km / 2,200m
The anticipated winning times are:
- C Course: 8 hours
- B Course: 9 hours
- A Course: 10 hours
- Elite Course: 11 hours
- Score: 8 hours limit
Whilst trying to get the course distances correct, we have carried out a significant amount of testing at night using experienced mountain marathon competitors who are independent of the planning team.
However, adjusting the winning times / distances for the added difficulty of running and navigating at night has proven difficult, as the differences between people’s ability to navigate accurately and run with confidence seem to be magnified by the darkness. It is also impossible to account for the variations in the weather; a clear moonlit night produces a completely different winning time to a foggy wet night.
As such, we have erred on the side of caution when determining the length and climb for each course… it is meant to be fun after all. However, all competitors should still be prepared for a long and challenging night on the fells.
The score course will have a large number of controls offering many route options. Controls will have values between 5 and 70 depending on their distance from the start/finish and navigational difficulty to locate. In the event of a tied score, the team with the quickest time will win. The penalties for arriving late at the finish are:
- 1 – 10 minutes = 3 points per minute (including part minutes) deducted
- 11 – 20 minutes = 6 points per minute (including part minutes) deducted
- 21 – 30 Minutes = 12 points per minute (including part minutes) deducted
- 31 – 45 minutes = 24 points per minute (including part minutes) deducted
- 45+ minutes = Lose all points
All the courses, including the score, start from the same location and visit a mandatory control after a few kilometres. This mandatory control marks the start of a 2km mandatory route. Much of this mandatory route is along a public road so please take great care by walking/running on the right (facing oncoming traffic) with your headtorches on. Please also ensure that all gates remain closed.
There will also be a mandatory control marking the start of the mandatory route to the finish for all courses, including the score. This mandatory route passes through some farmland with both livestock and killer bogs. This mandatory route is designed to avoid the worst of the bogs and the biggest of the bulls. Please ensure that all gates remain closed and for your own safety please follow the designated route.
The finish is 2.3km from the Event Centre and there is another mandatory route to return here. Please take GREAT CARE following this route back to the Event Centre at the end of the race as approximately 1km of the route is along a narrow section of the A595. Although we hope that this road will be quiet early on Sunday morning, it can be busy and vehicles do travel very fast along it. There will be warning signs to alert motorists to the danger of runners in the road but competitors must ensure they walk on the right (facing oncoming traffic) with their headtorches on.
All mandatory routes are shown on the maps and will also be marked with blue glowsticks.
Event T-Shirts / Prizes
We will be providing Marmot Dark Mountain t-shirts for all category winners. The categories are for each course: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 1st Female, 1st Mixed and 1st Veteran. A female, mixed or veteran team in the first three will not receive two prizes and the 2nd placed female, mixed or veteran team will become eligible for a prize. There is also a £500 cash prize for the winning Elite team. Prize Giving will be at 0900 on the Sunday morning and it would be great if as many of the competitors as possible were able to attend.
|Above: The very first look at the stunning new Marmot Dark Mountains Elite trophy... it is huge by the way, being nearly 45cm wide and weighing around 6kg!|
The t-shirts will also be available to purchase for £20 in both men’s and women’s styles and in sizes small to extra large. If competitors purchase a t-shirt on the Saturday evening but then win a prize we will happily refund the cost of the t-shirt.
Every year there are dozen of serious road traffic accidents in the Lake District, caused by tired walkers (often Three Peakers) driving after spending a night in the hills. Cumbria Police have asked us to ensure that all competitors are aware of the risks of attempting to drive home when tired. As such we are providing a large room within the Event Centre that competitors can sleep in before driving home. Competitors will need to bring a sleeping bag and mat. Strong coffee will also be available from the café. Competitors should take a moment to read the 'Tiredness Kills' leaflet available as a PDF download here.
Accommodation Special Offers
Muncaster Castle has kindly arranged the following special offers for Marmot Dark Mountains™ competitors. These special offers are per night over the weekend of 25th/26th January 2013.
Double/Twin room with breakfast £70 (normally £95)
Single occupancy room with breakfast £65 (normally £90)
Double/Twin room with breakfast £50 (normally £60)
Single occupancy room with breakfast £35 (normally £45)
Start Times and Team Numbers
|Start Time||Course||Team Number||First Team Member||Second Team Member||Team Age||Team Class|