The OMM, a cardboard mountain and am I a runner now?
Well hello everyone!
It’s barely been any time since my last email. But to get me into the sync of writing to you at the start of each month, you’re getting another letter from me. It’s November now and it feels like the downhill pull to the end of the year has already started. I’m sitting on the window sill, watching the layers of cloud shift and pass as I type. We’ve already had two downpours and an unexpected 5 minute hail storm today. Who knows what’s coming next.
You would think that I wouldn’t have anything to say on the adventures front - it being like a week since we last spoke. But I have: I did the OMM last weekend. For those who don’t know OMM stands for Original Mountain Marathon. It’s a two-day sufferfest that moves around the UK each year, but is always on the clock change weekend. This year’s was in Langdale, Lake District.
There are several different ways to do the OMM. The course options are either a linear route (B class, A class or Elite) and Score routes (Short, medium, long). It was my first and so we decided to play it safe and go short score - that’s 5 hours of choose-your-own route on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. I say we because you have to participate in pairs.
Everyone camps at a campsite - well, in a boggy field - on Saturday night. And you have to be entirely self sufficient from start to finish. So that’s running with overnight kit and navigating using the map given to you on the start line each day.
I’d made something of a mountain out of the OMM. It was something university friends did, at a time when I was so ill I could barely walk uphill. I know people who’ve stood on the (possibly metaphorical) podiums and listened to many stories of trials and epics on the course. But the biggest mountain was the word ‘running’.
If you’ve been following a while, you’ll know that this year I decided to be a Person Who Runs. Because Runner seemed too big a claim, but I needed to learn how to run to be able to do the OMM. (Although actually many people did the entire thing walking… more on that in a mo.) So I did swallowed my pride and did Couch to 5k on local trails. And it honestly did help - if anything with the mental game of not having to listen to my brain go “Aargh! I’m running!” every time I ran.
As for the OMM itself. I wasn’t expecting the sheer amount of joy I found in being there. After the initial oh-heck at the start line, a good 50% of the first day was Type 1 Fun. The weather was miserable: very wet, very windy on top and foggy above 600m or so. My favourite kind of weather :) Running down a narrow sheep track towards a stream bend was fun. Bouncing across a bog was fun. My uphill legs were very tired on Sunday but we still did two more checkpoints than I thought we could. The perfect satisfaction of an orange control point appearing out of the mist exactly where you thought it should be. The childlike joy of being so utterly soaked through that you may as well wade across the river than make a 100m detour to the bridge. It was wonderful.
Perhaps my surprise at having this much fun in the moment says something about me. Maybe I tend to take things too seriously. Or maybe I don’t do enough things for fun first and everything else second. Maybe these past few years have been such a grind that when things go our way, we don’t know how to react. But it was great and I’m glad I did it and grateful to have been asked to join. For anyone on the fence like I was, it is nowhere near as serious as it seems. Sure you have to have the skills to survive in a tough mountain environment. But there were people showing up to the start line with waterproof rucksack covers on 45L bags. It’s not just for super-fit mountain running ninjas. (And for Devon people, Ten Tors is surprisingly good preparation.)
I don’t know if I’ll do it again next year (although it’s North Wales, so closer to home). But I definitely feel like I’ll be back. And that I ought to add hill reps to the list of New Year’s Resolutions, alongside canyoning cold showers…
Anyway… obviously I haven’t written anything up about it yet really, but I will. My main writing focus at the moment is clearing the mountain of gear reviews that I’m under. I don’t mean this in a bad way, it is great fun trying out new kit… But my bathroom is full of wet kit and my kitchen is stacked high with empty cardboard boxes at the moment - so it does feel like a literal mountain sometimes! If only recycling days came a little more often.
That done, I’m hoping to wind down a bit towards the end of the year and take some time to plan for 2023. This has been my first year fully freelance and I want to take stock of what’s going on and decide where I want to take things next year. Rather than go in blind. That means I’m closed to new work until January, but very happy to line things up for the new year.
Will I be doing NaNoWriMo in a last ditch attempt to actually finish that novel Emily? Maaaaybe. I don’t like to focus on word counts in the way the NaNoWriMo does. But I might do something fixed like: I must spend x hrs on my book each day of November until it’s finished. Or something. Probably ought to decide pretty sharpish, since it’s November already. Although I don’t think you’ll get this until Sunday.
Anyways, I think that’s about all from me for today. Hope you had a fun/spooky/sugar-filled Halloween and have/had a firework-filled bonfire night, with apples and spice and all things nice, autumnal and cosy.
Speak to you soon,