29th Jan 2019

By Shane Ohly Race Director


Marmot® Renew Sponsorship

The seventh edition of Marmot Dark Mountains™ was another huge success this weekend with entries almost reaching 350 people. The event continues to grow each year and on the back of this, and the very special reputation that the event has built over the years as the test of mountain craft for mountain runners, Marmot have confirmed today that they are extending their sponsorship of Dark Mountains™ for another 3 years. Marmot®; thank you for the steadfast support.


Marmot Dark Mountains 2019

"It will push you out of your comfort zone.” For the toughness, darkness, self-sufficiency and navigational challenge, that's what Marmot #DarkMountains is all about. Next up in the 2019 British Mountain Marathon Championship is the ALL NEW Scottish Mountain Marathon Steve Ashworth Media

Posted by Marmot Dark Mountains on Tuesday, 29 January 2019



This year I was less visible at the event than normal. Some of you are aware that I’ve had a very troublesome back for over a year now. Whilst far from its worst this weekend, it is not good at the moment and I have constant pain that is exacerbated when I am standing or moving around; some of you may have spotted the camp bed in Race Control where I could be found recovering from the periods spent on my feet. What this experience really emphasised for me is that this event – like all my others – is certainly not the Shane Ohly show, and it is built around and delivered by a truly awesome team of dedicated professional staff and volunteers. They do an amazing job and I can’t easily put into words the huge debt that I owe for helping me realise some certainly crazy event ideas. It simply couldn’t happen without them and I would like to express my sincere thanks to:

  • Abbi Forsyth
  • Alli Holland
  • Andrew Davies
  • Andy Jackson
  • Ann Perry
  • Becky Tate
  • Charlotte Hattersley
  • Colin Harding
  • Darren Graham
  • Dave Cumins
  • Duncan Kendrick
  • Gary Tompsett
  • Geoff Cox
  • Graham Gristwood
  • Hazel Johnson
  • Helen Samson
  • Ian Cowie
  • Jade Phillips
  • Janie Oates
  • Keith Montgomery
  • Liane Shaw
  • Matt Gemmell
  • Matt Harmon
  • Michelle Creed
  • Paul Imrie
  • Philip Wilkinson
  • Rachel Platt
  • Steve Ashworth
  • Stuart Smith
  • Sue Dowker
  • Tom Chivers
  • Tom Hecht




I am absolutely delighted to report that there is no news to report. Over the years many of our regular participants will have become accustomed to my forensic breakdown of rule infringements (typically out of bound and uncrossable boundary errors) and the consequential penalties or disqualification. Currently, I am aware of a few such errors at the event this year and the GPS tracking enabled us to watch most of these live as most teams reversed out of an out of bounds area by their original route in to correct themselves. They seemed like honest mistakes, no advantage was gained (quite the opposite actually) so there was no need to take any action on our part. Thanks for being such a well-behaved group of participants!


Future Questions: Mandatory Kit and Embargoed Areas

This year two other rule related questions have arisen though and these related to our ‘embargo’ of the competition area once it is announced, and our mandatory clothing and equipment rules. 


Our Universal Event Rules state that: 

Ignorance is not Bliss: The participant must abide by these event rules. Ignorance is no excuse and failure to comply may result in penalisation or disqualification from the event. Disqualified participants may be required to leave the event at their own expense. No refund of the entry fee will be given.

And our Mountain Marathon specific rules state:

The competition area is embargoed. If a participant or team becomes aware of the competition area they are not allowed to visit the area in advance of the Event with the specific goal of gaining a competitive advantage over other participants.

Prior to this edition of Marmot Dark Mountains™ we become aware of some participant’s specifically training in the competition area and we are now going to revisit this rule, carefully review and publish some clarifications. My instinct is that we move to enforce this rule more rigidly in the future, but I would be interested in any feedback our regular participants may have?

I am also aware of some participants pushing their interpretation of the mandatory clothing and equipment rules to the limit in order to have lightweight rucksacks. Clearly, there is a risk when taking this approach and you can expect some future clarifications about how we will enforce these rules more rigidly in the future. 

I’ll publish this these rule clarifications on the websites for the three-mountain marathon event that we organise in the coming months. 


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Anticipation building in the marquee pre-event ©Steve Ashworth 



This year we had one emergency on the course with a participant sustaining a serious knee injury. Given the weather, this could have become very serious, very quickly with the participant unable to continue and the risk of hypothermia just minutes away. For me, this highlights the importance of the mandatory clothing and equipment, and I would like everyone just to take a moment to reflect on how they would fair if they suddenly had to stop and were stationary?

Fortunately, on this occasion, the participant was able to bum slide downhill (out of the worst of the weather) and shelter get in their tent while waiting for our response team to attend after pressing their SOS button earlier. Take care out their people! 


2013-2019 STATS

Whilst the weather this year wasn’t too severe, Marmot Dark Mountains™ continues to be a tough event to complete and the statistics below reflect this:


Overall the average completion for the Linear Courses since 2013 is 50% (this average has increased by 1% since last year… I must be going soft!), and for the Score Courses it is 93% (a 5% decrease from 2018…. perhaps I am not going soft after all!). The standout difficult years were 2013 (21% completion - storm conditions on the hill) and 2017 (35% completion - extremely poor visibility). 

Our three Score Courses are statistically the easiest to complete but this does not represent the courses fairly with the four Linear Courses offering an all or nothing result, and the Score Courses allowing participants to make more conservative choices and finish with a result even if they have had to do less than they expected due to injury etc. 


Check out the 2019 courses:

Score courses



This year Marmot Dark Mountains™ has been planned by Gary Tompsett and Graham Gristwood has been controlling. What a great team! The feedback from the participants has been universally good and I think that they have got the course length, height gain and control difficulty spot on.

You may have been curious about the large area of Out of Bounds in Martindale. This is the ‘Deer Forest/Park’. It is surrounded by walls and fences with very few crossing points. It is generally considered a sensitive place, not least due to potential disturbance to the oldest deer herd in Britain. Some walkers venture in from the south using a solitary wall stile, to bag the Wainwright called The Nab. For our event consultations, it was wise to surrender this area as Out of Bounds at an early stage of the planning. We then just worked the courses around it. (Other OOB’s mainly relate to our regular policy to avoid transgressions into non-Open Fell Access Land and to minimise overnight disturbance to farms, farmyards and private residences).

Why not read up on the history of Marmot Dark Mountains™by taking a look at the courses from previous editions here.



Marmot Dark Mountains™ is the first race in the 2019 British Mountain Marathon Championship, and I am really happy that the Championship is slowly gaining traction with many competitors citing it as one of the reasons for doing multiple mountain marathon events each year. 

Ready for the 2019 season, the three Championship events – Marmot Dark Mountains™, the Scottish Mountain Marathon™ and the ROC Mountain Marathon™ – have finished a complete harmonisation of their rules, courses and classes, and a common set of standards so that anyone competing in 2019 has a clear understanding of how the series works, and how their performance is recognised. You can read more about this here.

2019 British-championship-white 150



Feedback is very important to us. Please let us know your thoughts; good or bad. I can’t promise to implement every suggestion, but I will always read them and consider your suggestions carefully. You can send us any comments by filling out this form.



The provisional results are available online here. Whilst we are not aware of any rule infringements that have the potential to alter the results, please don’t hesitate to contact us, especially if you see something whilst reviewing the GPS Replay that we might have missed. 



All the GPX files for all the participants are available to download from the results page, and you are also able to recreate the event using the 'Replay' function on the tracking interface. Please enjoy watching the dots!





Both Steve Ashworth and Anthony Harvey were on hand to document the event. Anthony’s excellent portrait images taken at registration are linked below and Steve’s short event film is shown at the top of this report. 


Please tag yourself in these photos and let your friends know you took part in the 2019 event. Our participant portraits have become something of a badge of honour as a Facebook profile picture!



Considering the next control ©Steve Ashworth 



There are a few mislaid items that we have returned to Kendal with. If you think any of the following items are yours please get in touch with a description:

  • Tent Pegs
  • Hats (various)
  • Gloves (various)  
  • Compass



Mountain Marathon events are so much more complex to organise because of the expansive nature of the courses compared to fell or trail races, and the almost unlimited combination of route choices. This results in many consultations with various landowners and stakeholders and I would like to thank the following: 

  • Commoners (Grazing) Federation and Associations
  • Dalemain Estate
  • Harvey Maps
  • Howtown Bobbin Mill Hall
  • Joey’s Café
  • Local farmers and residents 
  • Lowther Castle and Garden (and excellent Café staff)
  • Lowther Estate
  • Marmot
  • National Trust
  • Natural England and our ecologist David Broom
  • Open Tracking
  • Parish Councils: Chiefly Askham and Martindale
  • Petzl
  • PFK Land Agents
  • SPORTident
  • Steve Ashworth - MOVIEiT
  • United Utilities



We are just finalising the consultations for the 2020 event and whilst we had been hoping to announce the area now, we have decided to be prudent and we will announce the venue when we open entries in March 2019.

I look forward to welcoming you back next year. Thank you for supporting this crazy little event. 


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Navigating through the night ©Steve Ashworth