Marmot Dark Mountains 2015 – Final Details

16th Jan 2015

Above: Race Director, Shane Ohly, reminds competitors of the serious and challenging nature of Marmot Dark Mountains™ ahead of the 2015 event on Saturday 24th January. Also, some useful tips and advice on clothing and equipment for the UK's only overnight, winter mountain marathon.



Marmot Dark Mountains™ is the only overnight winter mountain marathon and the 3rd edition of the race will take place on Saturday 24th January in the Howgills. The race has a rapidly growing reputation as the test of mountain craft for experienced mountain runners because of the very challenging terrain, night navigation and wintry environment. The following warnings and information bullet points are very important for all competitors to read.

Registration / Photo ID

Competitors will each need a photo ID to register. The person at registration, the photo ID and the online entry must all match. Even if you think someone at registration will know you, you still require photo ID. We are happy to accept a photocopy of your photo ID as long as the photocopy is sufficiently high quality that the photograph is clear, and that someone who doesn't know you, can identify you from it. We feel that the most significant factor in keeping competitors safe at the event is their own personal experience. As such, competitors are vetted before they can enter and we need to ensure that the person vetted and entered, is the person standing in front of us at registration. 

Start Times

Start Times are now available HERE. It takes approximately ten minute to walk to the start. It is a timed start, so please do not be late, as we wish to maintain a large and regular gap between each team. Late teams may have to wait until all other teams on their course have started before they can start. 

Kit Check

All teams will be kit checked at registration so please ensure you arrive with all your kit. Teams without ALL the mandatory kit (or with kit that we believe to be inadequate) will NOT be allowed to register. Please double check the kit list HERE. Particular attention should be made of the 2-person Bothy Bag (aka group shelter or kisu), which is a new addition to the kit list since 2013. A tent flysheet is not an alternative to Bothy Shelter.

Event Reports

As Marmot Dark Mountains™ 2015 unfolds we’ll do our best to keep the website updated late into the evening and early in the morning with news of competitors finishing and retiring.

Event Centre & Parking

The Event Centre at 'Tebay Sports, Social Club & Village Hall' will be manned throughout the event and competitors may leave bags and personal belongs here. We anticipate that items will be safe here, as we have sole use of the building but we cannot guarantee this and all items are left at your own risk. Free hot drinks will be available at the Event Centre throughout the event. The location of the Event Centre and Competitor Car Parking is HERE.

RISK #1 - Driving Tired

The number one risk to competitors at Marmot Dark Mountains™ will be driving home after the event. This is almost certainly the most dangerous activity you will do all weekend. Please take advantage of the sleeping areas and have a few hours sleep before travelling home and an excellent Joey’s Coffee. There is an information leaflet HERE


The next big risk to competitors is hypothermia especially if the weather is poor. Once you start the race, it is your responsibility to look after yourself and your teammate. 

Please remind yourself of the signs and symptoms of hyperthermia and be very alert to these in your partner and yourself. We would strongly advise competitors to download and read the excellent short PDF booklet about Hypothermia produced by the Fell Running Association HERE



Experience has shown that competitors who opt to ‘run-warm’ consistently do better at Marmot Dark Mountains™ than competitors of ‘run-cold’. By this we mean that at a summer mountain marathon it may well be possible to accept some discomfort and cold by wearing only lightweight clothing in poor weather and allowing yourself to get wet, and then staying warm, by running. This is NOT possible at Marmot Dark Mountains™, where the much colder temperatures and slower pace of night navigation and running, mean that even mildly cold/wet competitors rapidly succumb to hypothermia and retire from the event.

RISK #3 - Severe Weather

It is too early to be certain but there is a possibility of severe weather on the night of the race. However, at this stage we anticipate that there is likely to be some snow on the ground, an air temperature of around zero °C is almost certain and therefore additional snow or sleet during the race is a possibility. With the low temperatures, even light winds will mean a very significant wind-chill factor. Competitors should keep an eye on the weather forecast and come suitably prepared for a tough night. As in previous years we will be preceding with the event… whatever the weather!

RISK #4 - Steep Slopes

The Howgills is famed for its steeply sides hills but these are dangerous especially if snow covered, and a long out-of-control slide is a distinct possibility. Sensible route choice is essential (i.e. avoid the steepest descents/ ascents) and the use of running crampons/micro-spikes may well be advisable if there is snow.

Useful Information #1 - Clothing and Equipment

As mentioned above the risk of hypothermia is very real and it is best that competitors wear warmer layers than usual and aim to stay a warm and dry at all times. Our advice is that waterproof socks (such are Gore Bike Wear GTX Socks or similar) are essential for all competitors. We would also recommend at least two pairs of warm, waterproof gloves. The mandatory kit list also states that a spare warm layer (like thick fleece or insulated jacket) must be carried. If this layer is being worn at the start of the race, it is obviously not spare! If the weather forecast is particularly poor then goggles and running crampons maybe essential.

Useful Information #2 - Fell Ponies

There are fell ponies in the Howgills. Please try not to spook them, or be spooked by them, if you come across them in the night.

Useful Information #3 - Blank Maps

Blank maps will be displayed at the Event Centre.

Useful Information #4 - Support Points

There will be two manned support points in the Howgills. These maybe used as places of refuge and where help can be sought in an emergency. Some courses also visit these locations as checkpoints. 

Useful Information #5 – Joey’s Coffee

Joey’s Coffee will be attending the event and selling gourmet, fairtrade, espresso coffee on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Whilst we will also be providing free hot drinks for competitors your support to Joey’s Coffee would be appreciated.

Useful Information #6 – Sleeping

There will be a silent room for competitors (and event volunteers) to sleep in during the night and before travelling home. Competitors will need to bring a sleeping bag and sleeping mat and we would also recommend earplugs. Please be courteous to sleeping competitors when entering and leaving this room.

Useful Information #7 – Exclosures

There are a number of very new fences on the Northern and Western fringes of the Howgills, which are NOT marked on the competition map. These are ‘exclosures’ to prevent sheep eating newly planted trees. We have moved two controls so that competitors are unlikely to need to cross these fences. However, if a maverick route choice reveals an unexpected fence and it looks very new, please be aware that it is almost certainly one of these new fences.

Useful Information #8 – Sale Rail

Final piece of information… There will be a small ‘sale rail’ of clothing available at the Event Centre. Items will be at least 50% discount and include unique event branded marshal uniforms from previous events and the like.