|Above: Caroline & Jane Emslie. Veterans of the 2013 and 2014 Marmot Dark Mountains™ race. © Ian Corless|
The organisers of the formidable Marmot Dark Mountains™ have just announced that the 2015 event will take place in the Howgills on the night of 24th & 25th January 2015. Full Location Details HERE.
Marmot Dark Mountains™ takes the classic two-day mountain marathon format and gives it a new… darker twist. Rather than two days of running with an overnight camp in between, Marmot Dark Mountains™ packs everything into one winter’s night!
The event kicks-off on the Saturday evening with the longest classes setting off first for dusk-to-dawn racing. The shorter classes set off later in the evening with the aim of most competitors finishing within an hour or so of each other the following Sunday morning. This makes for an exciting finale as all the courses and most of the competitors converge on the finish as dawn breaks.
|Above: In this short video Race Director, Shane Ohly, reveals the venue and Race Planner, Charlie Sproson, provides an insight to the course design.|
Race Director, Shane Ohly describes the 2015 event area, “The Howgills provide a superb setting for Marmot Dark Mountains™. The terrain is definitely more runable than previous editions of the race but with the steep sided valleys that are typical, there is significant height gain, and the course are sure to provide a suitable test of endurance.” He continued, “The Howgills also seem to catch more than their fair share of winter weather and we are anticipating a tough challenge for those competitors brave enough to enter.”
Marmot Dark Mountains™ has a growing reputation as the test of competence for experienced mountain runners. Ordinarily a standard mountain marathon with its combination of mountain running and navigation at its heart is a sufficient challenge but Marmot Dark Mountains™ takes it a step further by packing two days of running into one long winters night with dusk-to-dawn racing.
Marmot Dark Mountains™ 2013 was held in the southwest fells of the Lake District National Park. That year the event experience extremely poor weather and the completion rate for the linear courses averaged just 21%. In 2014 the event moved to the Peak District National Park and with better weather the completion rate rose to 53%. Still, these are low completion rates considering that competitors are vetted for experience before their entry is accepted.
With the announcement of the venue, the organisers have also released details of the routes, which have been planned by Charlie Sproson who is a regular Race Planner for Ourea Events. These are:
- Elite Course: 53.1km / 2,966m
- A Course: 42.3km / 2,415m
- B Course: 35.8km / 2,311m
- C Course: 33.9km / 1,770m
- Long Score: 10 Hours
- Short Score: 8 hours
Working in collaboration with Harvey Maps at the 2014 Marmot Dark Mountains™ bespoke ‘high contrast’ maps were produced for the first time. These were designed to show contours more clearly in the dark and when the map is illuminated by high-powered headtorches. These were a great success and the 2015 event will also feature these special night maps.
|Above: The 2014 Marmot Dark Mountains™ map. © Ian Corless|
Race Director, Shane Ohly elaborated, “For an event that is focused on mountain navigation and running, we understand completely that the quality of the map is directly linked to the quality of the overall experience and as such, we invest significant time and energy into the map. As in previous years we will be using waterproof and tearproof paper and our special night-nav high contrast printing developed with Harvey Maps. Whilst checking control sites both Charlie Sproson and I have been recording new paths, fences etc with GPS and combined with Harvey’s updating their base data from a new photogrammetry survey data, we are confident that we will provide a high quality and accurate map for the competitors.”
With the support of sponsorship from Marmot® and Petzl® there is a £500 cash prize for the winning elite team. In 2014 Steve Birkinshaw and Tom Gibbs won and Alex Pilkington and Kim Collison won in 2013.