Kim Collison in action during the race. Photo: Ian Corless

Kim Collison in action during the race. Photo: Ian Corless/Marmot Dark Mountains

A pair of ultrarunners who finished neck and neck in a 60-mile race last year picked up another winners’ trophy at the weekend.

Kim Collison and Adam Perry won the Marmot Dark Mountains race run in the Howgill fells, and involving a gruelling course with night navigation.

The runners completed the course, covering 53km (33 miles) with 3,000m height gain in 8hrs 34mins to win the elite race by a huge margin. They were victors in last year’s Fellsman in the Yorkshire Dales, finishing together after racing each other over the 98km route.

Collison and Perry are both based in Cumbria, in Perry’s case at the foot of the Howgills, and the pair started as favourites in the gruelling marathon, run overnight in the height of winter.

Tim Higginbottom and Alex Pilkington finished second in the elite class in 9hrs 17mins and Wainwrights record holder Steve Birkinshaw and his running buddy Jim Mann came in third, 31 minutes later.

Race director Shane Ohly said: “It’s a rare individual who has the experience and nerve to take on the challenge of an overnight winter mountain marathon and everyone who takes part in the event genuinely impresses me.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the elite runners or a team retiring early on the C course, everyone participating in Marmot Dark Mountains to date has shown consistently sound mountain judgment and made good decisions about how far, and how long to push themselves in some very challenging weather and terrain.”

Adam Perry, left, and Kim Collison with the winners' trophy. Photo: Ian Corless/Marmot Dark Mountains

Adam Perry, left, and Kim Collison with the winners' trophy. Photo: Ian Corless/Marmot Dark Mountains

Only 136 entries were accepted for this year’s event, meaning sponsorship is essential for the race to go ahead. Along with Marmot, Petzl also provided support for the Dark Mountains.

Ohly also praised others involved in the organisation of the event. He said: “As a race organiser you know when things are running smoothly when you can casually take time to chat with competitors and friends whilst surrounded by a smoothly running operation.

“I particularly wanted to thank Charlie Sproson for all his hard work on landowner permissions and course planning. Supporting Charlie and me this weekend were a superb team of volunteer marshals.

“They make it all happen, and they are a committed, knowledgeable and motivated team that are a credit to the wider mountain running community.”

Greg Weatherhead, who alongside partner Kevin Drew, finished first on the C course, said: “My partner and I have done over a dozen mountain marathons between us and we both thought that this was one of the best organised events we have ever done.”

Andy Bell, who teamed up with Darryl Watton to finish third on the short score course, said: “Marmot Dark Mountains was absolutely superb and we enjoyed it immensely.”

Andy Thompson, who with running partner Rob Brown completed the A courses said that Marmot Dark Mountains, was the best mountain marathon he’d done, while Tim Martland, competing with Jim Allen on the B course added the race was ‘something all mountain marathoners should do’.

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