Kong Mountain Marathon

Fran Blackett

  • Arran, Scotland
  • August 2022

This was the first two day mountain marathon organised by the team that have been behind the ‘mini mountain marathon’ series for the past ten years or so and the first mountain marathon held in Scotland since the final LAMM in 2018. When the location was announced, it seemed rude not to go and support this new venture.

For Andy and I this event came at the end of a month long van/cycle touring family adventure along the length of the Outer Hebrides and then back down through mainland Scotland. Our participation in the event was only possible thanks to the dedication of my mum who drove up from Durham, and met us on the Arran to take over childcare duties for two days whilst we went and destroyed ourselves in the mountains.

As a result of all this, we were probably the least prepared running wise that we have ever been going into one of these events. However, this did mean that I was probably the most relaxed. The pressure was off. If I was rubbish then I had 5 weeks of little to no running to blame! The weather was set fair and as we took the short ferry ride from Ardrossan to Brodick and the mountains of Arran came into view then I felt really excited for the weekend ahead.

We were not the only Durham Fell Runners to have made the journey. Steve Lumb and Tom Carter were taking on the A course (running with separate partners), Digby Harris was on the long score course and Meghan and Rory were running together on the C course. Here is my account our Arran adventure.

Day 1 – 30km, 1541m ascent

The weather was incredible and as we set off we were in high spirits. The first few checkpoints were relatively straight forward and there were plenty of cheerful and friendly exchanges with fellow teams on the hill. Our first decision came as we looked at our route from CP 4 to 5. Andy was very taken with a route that went over an inviting and attractive looking ridge. I was more keen on a riskier route that descended below the ridge and contoured through a bog. As we mulled over ‘midge or ridge’ neither of us were keen to budge. In the end we went midge and I was relieved that it was a good line! Then from CP 5 – 6 the fun really started. It looked relatively straight forward on the map. What the map didn’t tell us was just how horrific the terrain was: tussocks, reeds, tree saplings for four long kilometres. The cheery exchanges with fellow teams were now grumblings and mutterings about how slow and grim the terrain was.

Battling our way through this sapped our enthusiasm for the game!

After finally reaching CP 6 we were heading inbound to mid camp. Although there was still a long way to go, it felt good to be heading in the right direction. One more decent climb ( I am sure it was steeper than it appears in this photo. It certainly felt it!) and then everything else was pretty straight forward until our final route choice to the final CP of the day.

Grovelling my way up this climb to a summit checkpoint

Andy was keen on the direct line. I had spotted a slightly longer route that got us off the rough ground more quickly and joined a path along to the CP which was on the path/stream junction. I was tired. I wanted to be off the hill. It seemed a safe option. Andy didn’t feel strongly about his route and so we took my line. And we were glad that we did. The direct route down off the hill to the CP went through what was marked as ‘mixed woodland’ on the map. In reality this was impenetrable rhododendrons, trees and gorse. Many teams lost a lot of time negotiating this. Finally the finish was in sight. We were very relieved to have made it.

Midcamp: As we made our way towards the camping fields we saw a guy eating his meal in the middle of the road. ‘Are the midge that bad?’ ‘Yep’. He was not wrong. The midge situation was desperate.

This picture here shows me blowing up my Neoair through my midge net. Yep. It was that grim.

A respite from the midge was provided by a Ceilidh (with bar) that had been arranged by the organisers. A room full of sweaty runners all in their hill gear giving their all to some excellent dancing must have been quite the sight.

Day 2 – 27km, 1576m ascent

I am not sure how to give an account of day 2 without it being a massive whinge but I will give it a go! This was the hardest day I have ever had on a mountain marathon. Maybe the hardest day in the mountains I have ever had! The lack of fitness played a part. My base fitness was good enough for one tough mountain day. When I asked my body to go again the next day, it did not have a lot to give.

After a glorious 400m along a path, the day got going with our first climb. Up through wet grassy tussocks which made my legs (cut to ribbons by the previous day’s fun) sting like crazy and then deteriorating into loose, grumbly rock that just came away in your hand. It’s 745am.

Me: Is it too early to lose my sense of humour?

Andy: Yes

The first climb of day 2.

CP 1 was successfully located and we tried to rally ourselves. It was another clear and beautiful day. The sight of runners silhouetted against the skyline struck me. This is a pretty crazy game to play but there are these incredible moments of peace and calm among the stress.

A brief moment of calm

We were taking each CP one at time, trying to remember to eat and taking turns to boost moral when low moments became too much. And then we reached a rising contour into a hanging valley across rough boulder and heather covered ground. This was the lowest of the low points. As we approached the ridge line to a checkpoint ‘cross on a hill’ (I think I will always remember this one) it was all too much. 

Me: I just can’t do it any more

Andy: Well I’m not going back down through that **** ground

Me: I don’t want to go back down there either

Andy: Well then you’ll have to keep going up

Me: I don’t think I can

Andy: What do you want to do then?

Me: Call for help

Andy: Fran, I am not calling Mountain Rescue

Upon reflection. I think Andy was right. To call for help was not the best course of action. He let me sit down for a few minutes, gave me a gel and we regrouped for the final push because as it had taken us so long to get to this point we were now in a race against the clock to beat the 4pm cut off. Miss the cut off and we would DNF the whole weekend. Brutal. The next checkpoint was the summit of Goatfell and then it was a long and painful descent down to the finish line. It was tight but we made it with just 10 minutes to spare. The sight of my mum and the boys at the finish line was such a joyous feeling (although they had spent so long waiting they were more interested in their snack they’d just been given!) and there was so much relief at having made it.

Joss and Kenny cheering us in to the finish
Day 2 finish – a low key end to an epic 2 days

In the end we finished 26th of 29 finishers. 14 teams DNFd so I like to count these and say that we finished 26th of 43 starters. Meghan and Rory finished 5th in the Short Score. Digby Harris finished 9th in the Long Score. Tom Carter did not finish a brutal A course. Steve Lumb’s partner was injured during day 1 on the A course so they did not complete. He ran with a new partner on day 2 (as her partner was also injured) and so completed with A course with an *!

Chapelfell Top Results

PositionGender positionAge cat positionNameClubTimeCategory
111Chris AlboroughDurham Fell Runners33:56MSEN
222Harry CowlingHowgill Harriers34:48MSEN
333Dave CopeHowgill Harriers37:10MSEN
441Mick Jones37:28M40
554Jack RavenscroftHowgill Harriers38:04MSEN
665Daniel O’Boyle38:49MSEN
776Hamish Carrick39:11MSEN
887Joseph AddisonHunwick Harriers39:15MSEN
992Andy BlackettDurham Fell Runners39:19M40
1011Emily Cowper-Coles39:22WSEN
11103Richard BatesonNorthumberland Fell Runners39:37M40
12118Nicholas BarberHelm Hill Runners39:43MSEN
13129Andrew ArminSaltwell Harriers40:19MSEN
141310Joe StringerNorthumberland Fell Runners40:34MSEN
151411Will LloydTynedale Harriers & AC41:16MSEN
16154Roger SilitoeNorthumberland Fell Runners41:20M40
17165Graeme WattElvet Striders41:28M40
18176Paul HodgsonDurham Fell Runners42:42M40
191812Keith Melvin42:44MSEN
20191Joseph GreenTynedale Harriers & AC42:48MU21
21201Andy GreenTynedale Harriers & AC42:50M50
22217Stephen Ireland42:58M40
232213Stephen RidleyDerwent Valley Trail Runners43:05MSEN
24231Steve EverettDurham City Harriers & AC43:19M60
25242John RipponNorthumberland Fell Runners43:32M50
26253Toby GibsonPonteland Runners43:52M50
27268Simon LongSaltwell Harriers44:29M40
282714Michael SturlaDurham Fell Runners44:34MSEN
29289Phil TicknerDurham City Harriers & AC44:38M40
302910Ian HutchinsonDurham Fell Runners45:10M40
31302Graham BradshawHunwick Harriers45:30M60
323111Sean RobinsonHowgill Harriers45:51M40
333212Andrew StimsonDurham Fell Runners46:57M40
3421Karen RobertsonNorthumberland Fell Runners47:25W50
353315Dave FieldenNorthumberland Fell Runners47:44MSEN
363413Ian HaydenLow Fell RC48:00M40
373516Steven AireyElvet Striders48:05MSEN
38364Digby HarrisPennine Fell Runners48:58M50
393717Tim FeatherstoneDUTR49:09MSEN
403814Ross RobertsonVegan Runners UK50:49M40
413918Dan CookeSouth Shields Tri50:53MSEN
42405Paul DelaneyDurham City Harriers & AC51:20M50
43416Paul StephensonDerwent Valley Running Club51:49M50
444219Iain GibsonElvet Striders52:17MSEN
454315William PowisNorth Shields Polytechnic Club52:33M40
4632Susan FawkesDH Runners52:33WSEN
47443Bernard KivlehanNorthumberland Fell Runners54:32M60
4843Alex FiddesRed Kite Runners54:49WSEN
4952Nina CameronNorthumberland Fell Runners55:10W50
50457Paul EdwinTynedale Harriers & AC56:10M50
51464John PunshonNorthumberland Fell Runners56:25M60
5263Denise TunstallDurham Fell Runners59:29W50
53478Keith Stoker01:01:29M50
5471Claire CalverleyNorthumberland Fell Runners01:05:54W40
55485Jim Lloyd01:06:30M60
5684Laura BartleHunwick Harriers01:07:12WSEN
574920Ed Lloyd01:11:04MSEN
58506Ian Horn01:12:14M60
Chapelfell Top fell race - 12 Jul 2022

Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM)

Eskdale, 2022

What is it?

‘The Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM) is a two-day mountain navigation competition (or race) that is held annually in the Lake District for teams of two runners.

The event comprises  6 linear courses of varying lengths and technical difficulty and one ‘score’ course where competitors choose which controls to visit over a 2 day total of 12 hours.

The first day finishes at a mid-way campsite. Competitors must carry the lightweight camping and safety equipment listed in the rules. Competitors need to be competent in the use of map and compass in the mountains’

How did the 2022 SLMM go?

This year the event centre was in Eskdale. A beautiful location. DFR member Joe Addison had headed over earlier in the day on Friday with his running partner, armed with beer and deck chairs ready to do some carb loading whilst soaking up the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the weather was distinctly ‘unSaunders’ like (sunshine is usually pretty much guaranteed). For those of us who arrived on Friday night, heavy rain meant it was a mad dash to complete registration and then back to tents or vans to hide from the weather.

For Andy and I this was our fourth Saunders together and our eighth mountain marathon. So we have our getting ready routine pretty sorted. By this I mean Andy keeps telling me to stop faffing and aims to leave 5 mins before we actually need to leave so we passed James Osborn’s van in plenty of time on our way to the start. Andy stuck his head in to wish them good luck to be met with James and his partner Matt staring at food laid out on the van floor with James realising he had forgotten to pack anything for his breakfast on Sunday morning. It seemed best to leave them to it. James can run for 8 hours on one mini snickers bar so we weren’t overly concerned for them!

Thankfully, the worst of the weather cleared by Saturday. There were some heavy showers during the day but nothing too dramatic, the cloud stayed high enough and the wind was not as high as forecast.

Andy, myself, James, Matt and Digby were all in the Kirkfell class. Digby and his partner had a great run on Saturday, finishing top of the DFR entries. Andy and I did not have our finest day. We made some questionable navigation decisions, running 36km (3km further than James and Matt). Cue plenty of self-analysis!

In the Wansfell class, Patrick Bonnett was running with his daughter Emily. This was also the class that Joe Addison was running in.

This year the mid-camp was in Wasdale Head. It really was a spectacular location. A lovely breeze coming off Wast Water kept any midges at bay. Two camping fields meant we could all spread out and there were plenty of non-boggy, flat spaces to pitch your tent. A real treat. Although we did spend the evening staring up at Yewbarrow towering above us promising that no one was going over that in the morning!

Patrick’s camp
If you ever come to a Saunders, don’t camp next to Patrick. He always has the gourmet food. And isn’t up for sharing.
Patrick enjoying his gourmet grub.

On Sunday, Digby had another strong day and finished well in 8th place. In consoling ourselves on Saturday night, I told Andy that we always have a strong second day and we did have a much better day. We concentrated a lot better and continued to move OK. We came within two minutes of the next pair but this was not enough to make up for Saturday’s losses and move us up any places.

James and Matt, Kirkfell, start of day 1
Fran and Andy, Kirkfell, end of day 2.
Patrick and Emily, Wansfell, finishing day 2

Overall, it was another fantastic event. Always so well organised. It is hard to describe the intensity of spending two days out in the hills hunting for checkpoints but I find it such a welcome relief from the everyday. I would be no good going for a spa weekend. I would just lie there thinking about all the other things I should be doing. For me, these two days of pure mountain fun are such a treat.

‘A great weekend in a rarely visited part of the Lakes. Well organised, friendly and competitive enough to make for a challenging couple of days but without being too ‘hair shirt’ Patrick Bonnett

‘Another fabulous weekend at the Saunders hunting down checkpoints, this time in Eskdale and surrounds. We were blessed with an overnight camp beside Wastwater to debate the day’s route choices over a beer. A civilised and inclusive event catering for people of all abilities’ Digby Harris

‘A great way for like-minded individuals to have as much fun as they can and eat as much rehydrated food as they can possibly carry. It can be a ‘leisurely’ holiday or a real challenge and anything in between.’ Joe Addison

‘Matt and I both agreed in the run up to the event that we would take it easy. Matt was recovering from a ruptured Achilles a couple of years ago and I was still recovering from a round of tendinitis. Neither of us were on our A-game. It started well and we were moving well together. The Blacketts were only 5 minutes behind so we could hear their intimidating calls at the early checkpoints. We made some great route choices through the day that played out well despite our relaxed effort. Only one nav error, which is pretty good for me! Matt had his poles out most of the time that left me to do the nav – a risky move! Overnight camp on the side wastewater was incredible. Just enough breeze to keep the midges away and good chat with everyone else. Day 2 and Matt was struggling a bit with his hip. We decided to walk back. The route choice changed from ‘fastest’ to ‘easiest’ and we had a nice day in the hills. Overall a great weekend with great people and plenty of hours in the hills. I give Saunders Mountain Marathon 5*. Would recommend.’ James Osborn

If reading this has tempted you to think about having a go then we have plenty of club members with incredible mountain marathon experience. I would not even like to guess how many Mark Bevan, Alan Hunt, Patrick and Steve Lumb among others have done between them and I know they would be happy to answer questions/give encouragement.

Roll on the next one; Kong Scottish Mountain Marathon on Arran http://kongmountainmarathon.org.uk Entries open until 20th August. I can’t wait. 

Ladies on Tour

This morning a group of ladies from our Tuesday sessions (plus special guest Clare O) had a wonderful run from Reeth. We had the wind to our backs as we made our way up on to Fremington Edge and then, sheltered by the wall, had a lovely run along the ridge. Then came the fun bit! It is such a wonderful descent down a springy, grassy path before a short, steeper technical section. The section along by the river is always more undulating than you would like it to be but we were back in Reeth before we knew it. A fabulous, relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable run out!

Kettlewell Anniversary

Start Briefing

Kettlewell Anniversary [S2] - 9 Jun 2022

posnamecattimepoints
10Martin WilsonMSEN0:42:3340
20Paul HodgsonM400:46:5439
26Dan HoyleMSEN0:48:3638
35Andrew StimsonM400:50:3937
59Megan McCarthyFSEN0:57:1340
74Denise TunstallF551:04:1239
82Dougie NisbetM551:06:5636
Results
Club Champs 2022 - Fixtures and Details

Club Champs 2022 - Results Men

NAMETOTALS1S2S3M1M2M3L1L2L3BEST-SBEST-MBEST-LBONUS
Andy Blackett11940394039404039
Michael Sturla11539403738403738
Mark Smith103383332383332
Dougie Nisbet10037363231373231
Chris Alborough40400040
Martin Wilson11840403938404038
Joe Addison37370037
Owen Carter36360036
Andrew Stimson1233739363935403939405
Paul Hodgson11639383439393839
Adam Bridges67343303433
Dan Hoyle76383838380
Andrew Henderson35350350
Tom Carter40400400
Max Wilkinson37370370
Stan Gibson37370037
Dan Rhodes38383800
Club Champs 2022 - Fixtures and Details

Club Champs 2022 - Results Ladies

NAMETOTALS1S2S3M1M2M3L1L2L3BEST-SBEST-MBEST-LBONUS
Dawn Hosking120404040404040
Denise Tunstall80393940403840400
Meghan McCarthy11940403939404039
Roslyn Kelsey38380038
Club Champs 2022 - Fixtures and Details

New ‘Durham Hewitts Round’ Record for Duncan

Duncan Archer went out on Saturday at took 41 minutes off the record for the Durham Hewitts Round. If you aren’t familiar with the route it takes in all the mountains over 2000 feet and with 3o metres prominence in County Durham. The record has been held since 2011 by Will Horsley.

Duncan completed the round in 9:58:39s

Read all about it here.

http://duncanarcher.com/blog/2022/05/28/durham-hewitts-round/

Club Champs Update

Photo Credit: David Aspin

Guisborough 3 Tops [M1] - 30 Apr 2022

posnamecattimepoints
82Martin WilsonMSEN01:26:1540
129Andy BlackettM4001:33:4939
144Dan HoyleMSEN01:35:5938
158Michael SturlaMSEN01:37:2937
168Andrew StimsonM4001:38:2236
172Andrew HendersonM5501:39:4735
209Adam BridgesM4001:46:1834
210Mark SmithM4501:46:2033
263Denise TunstallW5502:05:4140
275Dougie NisbetM5502:16:5332
Full Results on sportident

Club Champs 2022 - Results Men

NAMETOTALS1S2S3M1M2M3L1L2L3BEST-SBEST-MBEST-LBONUS
Andy Blackett11940394039404039
Michael Sturla11539403738403738
Mark Smith103383332383332
Dougie Nisbet10037363231373231
Chris Alborough40400040
Martin Wilson11840403938404038
Joe Addison37370037
Owen Carter36360036
Andrew Stimson1233739363935403939405
Paul Hodgson11639383439393839
Adam Bridges67343303433
Dan Hoyle76383838380
Andrew Henderson35350350
Tom Carter40400400
Max Wilkinson37370370
Stan Gibson37370037
Dan Rhodes38383800
Club Champs 2022 - Fixtures and Details

Club Champs 2022 - Results Ladies

NAMETOTALS1S2S3M1M2M3L1L2L3BEST-SBEST-MBEST-LBONUS
Dawn Hosking120404040404040
Denise Tunstall80393940403840400
Meghan McCarthy11940403939404039
Roslyn Kelsey38380038
Club Champs 2022 - Fixtures and Details

Cockfield Chase Results

60 runners turned out for this years Cockfield Chase, in what might be a fell running first, the female runners outnumbered the male by 31:29, the majority were enjoying their first fell race. Huge congratulations to all who ran, it was a wonderful evening and great to see you all out enjoying The Fell.

Sam Rhodes-Dawber finished first, completing the race lap in 13:40, he was 9 seconds ahead of Matt Walker (Both DFR).

Meghan McCarthy (DFR) finished in a time of 17:58, taking the ladies race by 15 seconds from Joanne Raine

Profits from the race will be donated to Cockfield Primary School defibrillator fundraising campaign and any other local charities suggested by entrants – please let me know your ideas.

Cockfield Chase - 29 Apr 2022

PositionGender positionAge cat positionNameClubTimeCategory
111Samuel Rhodes DawberDurham Fell Runners13:40MU21
221Matt WalkerDurham Fell Runners13:49M40
331Stephen JackWolf Pack Running Club14:04MSEN
442Phil TicknerDurham City Harriers & AC15:17M40
553Ian HutchinsonDerwentside AC15:40M40
662Michael SturlaDurham Fell Runners15:43MSEN
772Rory Hart15:53MU21
881Alistair HartHunters Bog Trotters16:13M50
992Andy BiggsDurham City Harriers & AC17:04M50
10104Leon CurryWolf Pack Running Club17:25M40
11113James FutersWolf Pack Running Club17:30MSEN
12124Stanton GibsonDurham Fell Runners17:38MSEN
13133Paul DelaneyDurham City Harriers & AC17:41M50
1411Meghan McCarthyDurham Fell Runners17:58WSEN
1522Joanne RaineCrook & Dist Sports AC18:13WSEN
1633Steph DobbingQuakers Running Club18:14WSEN
1744Alison GouldingDerwentside AC18:20WSEN
18145Paul Dickinson18:29M40
19156Paul WestWolf Pack Running Club18:33M40
20167Martin GreensittDerwent Valley Trail Runners18:57M40
21178John HollidayTeam caterpillar18:59M40
22184Darren FaircloughCrook & Dist Sports AC19:03M50
23195Digby HarrisPennine Fell Runners19:16M50
2451Angela HallDurham City Harriers & AC19:32W40
2565Sarah CookElvet Striders19:52WSEN
26209Darren StockdaleDarlington H & AC20:26M40
27211Eddie PeatDurham Fell Runners20:30M60
2876Emily Bonnett20:36WSEN
29222Andrew TurnellCrook & Dist Sports AC21:46M60
3081Martha McBarronSwaledale Runners22:19W60
3192Lynne CarruthersDurham City Harriers & AC22:29W60
32107Helen Bonnett22:31WSEN
33231Alan WilksAycliffe Running Club22:32M70
342410Blaine PattonWolf Pack Running Club23:02M40
35118Gemma Robertson23:14WSEN
36129Ellie Tucker23:14WSEN
371310Kimberlie Hitchcock23:24WSEN
38256David StothardAycliffe Running Club23:26M50
391411Lizzie LuptonDurham City Harriers & AC24:11WSEN
401512Debra Harland24:28WSEN
41161Barbara CrawleyTeesdale AC25:11W50
42172Susan JacksonRedway Runners26:01W50
43182Rachel EdmundsBlackhill Bounders26:03W40
44193Fiona HarringtonElvet Striders26:20W50
45263John HarrisonSwaledale Runners26:21M60
46272Charlie TaylorRunnation Running Club26:26M70
47203Sandrine HewittAycliffe Running Club26:28W40
48214Lesley Kipling26:54W40
49224Claire Weighell26:54W50
50235Diane LockhartQuakers Running Club26:55W40
512811Kevin Sugden27:38M40
522413Louise FranksTeesdale AC31:03WSEN
53297David RaymondTeesdale AC31:03M50
54255Louise HarringtonWeardale Flyers31:20W50
55266Lynda Kempsey31:23W50
56277Catherine Bonnett31:29W50
57288Amanda PettittTeesdale AC32:27W50
58296Helen SpavenQuakers Running Club1 lapW40
58309Mandy HarrisonTeesdale AC1 lapW50
583110Janet StablesTeesdale AC1 lapW50
Cockfield Chase - 28 Apr 2022