Monday, 15 October 2012

The RAB Mountain Marathon 2012 – The Cheviots

So, after the pain of the Saunders faded I decided I needed to do another Mountain Marathon and the next one I found was the ‘RAB’. Albert was in training for his Ironman and wasn’t too sure about it, but he contacted me a couple of days after asking him and said he was up for it. He’d also been asked by Tony Marlow (SROC) to partner at the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon) so doing the RAB with me would be like a training session for the OMM.

The location for the RAB was finally announced in early September as the Cheviots in Northumberland. I’d never been up that way and Albert said he had never really run round there either but we were assured by others that it would make for some good running (not that I do much running in a Mountain Marathon).

My preparation for this MM was pretty much the same as the Saunders so I’ll not go through that other than to say that I decided to test out a freeze dried meal the week before I went. BLEUGH!!!! it was awful so I resorted to my trusty Super Noodles.

On the Friday evening I left work and hurried home to collect my stuff and get off as soon as possible, I’d packed everything the night before so it should have been easy. Nope!! After having a bit of a barney with Joanne and shouting at the kids I tried to make up before I left. Then when I eventually left I needed fuel so had to queue at the garage and use the slowest pumps in the world. Next I needed cash so had to nip round to the cashpoint, after which I received a text message from Joanne telling me that I’d forgot my shoes. So, back home I went to collect my shoes and headed off again. Having had no tea I called at the chippy and it was packed. However eventually at about 7:15 I collected Albert and we headed off for Wooler where the event would start from.

We spent the Friday night in the back of my car. Seats down and inflatable mattress in the back and a good nights sleep. We woke to a beautiful clear sky with the sun just rising over the horizon. The morning was a little chilly but not too bad. Time for a Sausage and egg butty at registration before gathering our stuff and heading to the start.


At the start there was no time for hanging around, Albert wanted to get off. We dibbed the start, got the map and descriptions and tried to plan some sort of route.

The map your given is for both days and shows all the controls but only some controls are valid on each day. Day 1 focused on the lower section of the map Whilst Day 2 was to focus on the upper section. With a score course your route is flexible and at the start you make a rough plan but you need to adjust it as your day goes on. So with a rough plan in mind, we headed off.

Day 1 Route: 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13, 18, 19, 23, 25, 24

The route we chose for Day 1 wasn’t too bad up to control 12, the ground was relatively forgiving, however from 12 – 13, 13 – 18, 18 – 19 the ground was thick with heather and not really any trods to follow, really hard work. We did well finding controls especially 18 which we dropped right on to.

During Friday I had called at Galloways to get a Meat & Potato pasty. The plan being that I would have 1/2 on each day. At this point I now realised that I had left the pasty in the car. I was gutted.

By control 23 I was worrying about time so decided that we should head for 25 and then into camp however by the time we got 25 we still had 30 minutes left so with tired legs we decided to squeeze in 24 too before the day was out.


Day 1 Total: 210 points

Tented VillageAt the overnight camp, we got the tent up and got the kettle on. Thankfully a milkman arrived to sell some milk and he happened to have some fruit juice which went down really well. Food became a topic of conversation because apparently a Tesco Sandwich and a packet of biscuits isn’t classed as Mountain Marathon food. I’d also brought Super Noodles and Chicken Cuppa Soup, what more could you need??

We’d pitched the tent around people we knew and that made for quite a social evening. The night drew in quite early though and the temperature started to drop so people retired early. The night was still young (about 8-9PM) but it didn’t take too long to get to sleep, the problem with this though was that it meant I kept waking throughout the night and it was a LONG night. At one point though I was rudely woke when Albert slipped getting into the tent and fell right on top of me.

Tony Marlow Albert Sunter Mark Sammon Darren Baker Karen Nash

It seems we’d pitched the tent on a slight incline which meant Albert kept sliding downwards and pushing me closer to the door, the cold from the side of the tent kept coming through my sleeping bag and kept waking me up. Added to this I noticed that the tent seemed to be right in my face every time I woke up. I found every drawstring in my sleeping bag though and tried to keep warm and get as much sleep as possible. It turned out that somebody had pulled one of the guy ropes form the tent so it was no longer tight which is why it felt so low.

The following morning I left the tent early to use the toilets. Despite the smell I have to say that this was the warmest I had been all night and I probably took a little longer to answer natures call.

Some warm milk on Weetabix and a good hot coffee and we were ready for the off. The competition was on, as on Day 1 Darren Baker and Tony Marlow had scored 5 more points than us. Better runners than me, I expected they would score well but you have to give it a shot to keep them on their toes.

Day 2 Route: 31, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 39, 42, 44, 2, 3, 1

Another great day with a clear sky. The day started with a minor mistake that most people seemed to make, heading too far up the hill then having to drop back down to go through the woods. It wasn’t long before I was de-layering as we headed up the first climb, Sinkside Hill. At the river crossing before 35 I thought I was going to be the first person to fall in, but luckily I kept my balance all the way across.

River Crossing photo 1 & River Crossing Photo 2

I had originally planned to visit 41 after 42 but with tired legs and worried about time I decided to miss it out. The ground on the Sunday was much better underfoot and it was easier to head for a path, plus the heather wasn’t as difficult as on day 1.

I have to say that I really didn’t want to do the climb up to number 3 but I knew I had to. Albert wasn’t going to let me off that easy. The last control was a busy one with everybody converging for the finish and then followed by a lovely downhill run to the finish and still with 25 minutes to spare

Day 2 Total: 210 points

Total: 420 points

On getting back to the car the first thing I did was eat my pasty, then got changed. We all gathered at the registration tent where we had food and got our results whilst comparing routes taken. At the time we downloaded Albert and I were listed in 14th position but by the end of the day we had moved down to 59th position out of 213 finishers.

It turned out that Darren and Tony didn’t score as well on day 2 so we beat them by about 5 points.

Overall it was a great weekend on a great area with great weather. Another layer of clothes might have helped but I’ll remember that for next time.


  1. A good day 2 for you. I know what you mean about forgetting food, I left my fruit cake back in my motor at the start....gutted.

  2. Hannah Williamson11 February 2013 at 15:23

    Great write up and sounds like you had a fun weekend. I regularly Trail / fell run (up to around 22 miles) but I am looking at partaking in a Mountain Marathon this year. However I am unsure about what ruckasck Size / make/ features I will need. I saw this, 35L OMM Rucksack ( and thought it looked a decent option, but will 35L be large enough to take all of my gear like my tent and rucksack etc? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Han x

    1. Hi Hannah. I think the size of your sac will depend on the size of your sleeping bag and tent. Are you running alone or with a partner. If you are running with a partner then you can share the tent and cooking stuff between you.
      For me it was more about the weight of all the kit rather than the space taken, I had the space to carry more kit in my sac. My partner brought the tent and I brought the cooker/gas and titainium kettle. I'd bought a Vango Ultralight sleeping bag but could have done with an extra layer of clothing overnight as I did feel the cold given that there was ice on the tent overnight.
      I've now bought a RAB microlight down jacket which is definitely coming wight me next time!
      I think I'm going to be trying a new food option this year too which will consist of Smash, cheese sauce and noodles but I need to make sure I don't forget my pasty this year!

    2. Hannah, my partner had bought a tiny sleeping bag that was less than 1/2 the size of mine (and at least twice as expensive) but just consider the time of year you are running because it'll be warmer when you run at the Saunders but possibly colder for the RAB or the OMM.

  3. Hannah Williamson12 February 2013 at 12:44

    Hi Mark, thank you for replying to me. I was thinking of running the RAB, and I am working my hardest at twisting my boyfriends arm to get him to join me, so we would be able to split the load. I am pretty strong but not to his levels. I have a 3 Season snugpak sleeping bag, which isn't exactly small but it isn't huge either. He also has a lightweight Nordisk Tent, which will be preferable to my heavier Vaude one.

    I presume anything dehydrated will be a good choice? And of course, some peanut butter sandwiches for along the way :)



    1. Hi Hannah, my partner regularly eats the mountain warehouse food but I'm not a fan of that stuff so I took Noodles and soups. Another good call are the premade sachets of Nescafe coffee. Other friends take cous cous and cook on tinfoil using fuel blocks but then they cam in the top 3 in their class at the OMM so went very minimal on everything.

      Have you seen that OMM are doing an OMM Lite in May where you don't need to carry your camping gear? The overnight camp is at the same location as the start so you can pitch your tent then head out each day with just what you need for the day. Might be a good starting point