All competitors in the Original Mountain Marathon are now safely accounted for.
Borrowdale became the centre of international media attention this weekend as the mountain marathon was struck by some of the worst weather in its history, leading to the abandonment of the event yesterday lunchtime.
While the world’s media has done its best to hype up the dangerous aspects of the weekend’s events, helped by Cumbria police and Honister Slate Mine owner Mark Weir, organiser Jen Longbottom and her team were doing their best to ensure all the runners and walkers got back to the valleys safely.
Many competitors came down from the fells today, unaware that the event had been mired in controversy.
Sleepmonsters, the adventure racing website, said that, contrary to some of the wild figures being bandied about by the BBC and other mainstream media, 44 competitors were unaccounted for by 2am this morning and by noon, this had fallen to just eight pairs – not that different from any normal mountain marathon picture.
Undoubtedly, the mountain rescue services, including teams from Keswick Mountain Rescue Team and their colleagues from the Wasdale and Cockermouth teams, had a busy weekend, along with the search-and-rescue helicopter crews of the RAF.
Mark Weir’s comment that ‘We have come within inches of turning the Lake District mountains into a morgue’ was described by Supt Gary Slater of Cumbria Constabulary as ‘a little exaggeration’. However, Supt Slater then went on to slate the OMM organisers for going ahead with the event. He said: “Common sense has got to dictate what we do in these circumstances and it’s disappointing that the race did go ahead, despite the concerns that we and others had raised.”
It is difficult to imagine most of the competitors, along with Jen Longbottom and her team, had not been keeping a very weather eye on the developing meteorological systems, so it was probably not necessary for the police to bring it to the attention of Ms Longbottom and the 2,500 marathon participants who would be taking to the Cumbrian fells.
Most OMM competitors weathered the Lake District storm well and either used their obligatory safety gear to take shelter or carried on with the race as best they could. There are even requests from runners for the results to be posted. Clearly, many marathon men and women did not view the events of this weekend as anything like an emergency.
The tally of 13 hospitalised participants is about normal for a weekend mountain marathon.
Two things are fairly certain: the Lake District mountain rescue teams coffers will probably be boosted by donations from OMM competitors and, next year’s OMM will probably be massively oversubscribed after all the publicity handed to the event this weekend.