The annual OMM event was this year held in Borrowdale near Keswick in the Lake District and what an ‘event’ it was.
Pete Kelly and Andrea Tucker from Head to the Hills in Ambleside, entered as a team and found themselves battling against one of the biggest media storms to have hit the west side of Cumbria.
‘It was a cold start’ said Andrea’ but as we got moving we were really enjoying ourselves, the weather was wild, windy and wet but that just adds to the challenge, it feels crazy, challenging and fun at the same time.’
All competitors of the OMM have to show a suitable level of competence in Navigation and experience of similar events in the hills.
There are varying levels of courses depending on how fit you are and how long you want to be out.
The OMM which is in it’s 41st year has safety features built in, radio marshalls at marked check points, bad weather course options, electronic tags for all teams and not forgeting the equipment competitors carry.
Andrea comments ‘I couldn’t have been more prepared this year, my gear was just perfect for the OMM, a Helly Hansen Pro wool base layer with a gilet, followed by my
OMM Kamleika Jacket and I was running cosy. Of course I had more spare gear in my OMM Jirishanca rucksack, which was surprisingly comfy actually, as this is the first time I’ve used in in such an event’.
The ‘media storm’ was largely sensationalised from misguided and incorrect information.
Head to the Hills were interviewed by the local paper and radio in an attempt generate fair comment and establish the facts of the event.
Statement from Paul Holdsworth, Town Centre Manager for Ambleside and Windermere, for the Westmorland Gazette:
“Whatever the final outcome of the Original Mountain Marathon post-mortem, we should not lose sight of the importance of challenging outdoor activity on the Lakeland economy. The call from Professor Ashton, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, to establish rules to govern adventure activities is perhaps understandable.”
But Professor Ashton is well wide of the mark when he suggests: “They didn’t spend any money. They came in their cars and went in their cars and just left Cumbria with a big bill.” (BBC News website).
Fell-running, along with other activities like sailing, kayaking, cycling and fell walking generate significant volumes of business for the hospitality and retail sectors in Lakeland. Participants in these sports do not come and go without spending. Most of them come time and again to Cumbria, to train and to participate in events. They spend locally while they are here, and, increasingly, depend on the expertise and local knowledge of enthusiastic Lakeland retailers when buying outdoor sports equipment from them over the internet. Professor Ashton also seems to be suggesting that enjoyment of our National Park should depend on parting with cash. The Park belongs to the whole Nation, and enjoyment of it should not be dependent on how deep one’s pockets are”.
Thanks to Mike Parsons and the OMM team, the volunteer Scouts and Mountain Rescue teams, we only hope you come back to Cumbria.
The Head to the Hills Team.