Ultra cancelled in the UK

Posted on October 26, 2008 by

In the UK today : Hundreds of Runners Stranded

The race formerly known as the Karrimore International Mountain Marathon
has been called off for the first time in it’s 40 year history.


BBC News report here : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cumbria/7691020.stm

Several hundred people taking part in a run in the Lake District near
Keswick have been stranded by flooding and torrential rain. The runners
were taking part in the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) run when they
were overcome by the weather.

Honister Slate Mine manager Mark Weir said he was sheltering 300 of them
and some were suffering from hypothermia. Mountain rescue teams are out on
the hills searching for missing runners who may be stranded. Cumbria
Police said competitors spending the night on the mountain were mainly
seasoned mountaineers, and were expected to be carrying suitable equipment
to cope with adverse weather. About 12 people have been taking to hospital
with hypothermia and minor injuries, said a spokesman for Northwest
Ambulance Service. The Mary Hewetson Cottage Hospital, Keswick, said it
had admitted people suffering from hypothermia and minor injuries. The
casualties have since been transferred for treatment to the Cumberland
Infirmary, Carlisle, and West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven. About 700
people are sheltering at Gatesgarth Farm, 68 at the Glaramara Centre and
about 80 at the Cockermouth Sheep and Wool Centre. A reception centre
offering shelter has been set up by Cumbria County Council at Cockermouth
School. Mr Weir said he believed that between 1,500 and 2,000 people had
been taking part in the race.

Organisers had “little choice” but to abandon the race around midday after
the weather deteriorated, according to the event’s official website. “Race
director Jen Longbottom made the decision just before midday after several
hours of torrential rain had resulted in extreme conditions on the
mountain and severe flooding,” it stated. However, the website said
abandoning the marathon was “easier said than done” because thousands of
competitors were scattered across the hills and communication was
difficult. Cumbria police said senior officers were assessing the
situation, but added it was currently too windy to use an RAF helicopter
to assist in rescue efforts. Honister Slate Mine is at the top of one of
England’s steepest mountain passes in the Borrowdale Valley, rising to
some 2,000ft in height (610m).

Mr Weir said the race should have been called off. “Now we’ve got several
hundred, into the thousand, stranded, cold, tired, some hypothermic,” he
said. “We’ve overwhelmed the emergency services – the poor mountain rescue
are out trying to find people on the side of the mountain, in the dark.
It’s just a bizarre day.”

Shane Ohly, who completed the run, said: “The weather was very bad; gale
force winds and torrential rain. However, the event is for experienced
fell runners and everyone should have been able to cope. “The Original
Mountain Marathon is one of the best organised events of its type and I am
sure the organisers will be doing everything they can,” he said.

Another run participant, Lewis Peattie, said he and his teammate were
lucky to get out when they did. “We had difficulty getting down due to
streams becoming fast torrents of water and ‘waterfalls’ springing out of
nowhere,” he said.

Will Creek, who was due to take part in the race, told the BBC that he had
pulled out because of the bad weather conditions.
“I looked at the weather forecast and took the view it was too treacherous
for my wife and I to take part. I just thought it was too dangerous,” he

Ian Boorman, of the Glaramara Centre in Seatoller, at the bottom of the
Borrowdale Valley, said his centre had taken in 78 runners for the night.
Most had basic supplies with them and staff at the centre had given them
hot drinks and dry clothes, he said. “They’re in good spirits,” he added.
Police advised drivers not to travel to the region, and many of the main
roads through the Lake District have been closed.

No-one from OMM has so far been available for comment but their website
describes the run as being founded in 1968 and it being the “originator of
the two-day mountain marathon type event”.

It involves teams of two, carrying all clothing, equipment, tent, sleeping
bag, and their food for 36 hours, during the run. They must also navigate
their own route and camp out overnight.

The website goes on to say that the OMM is “the premier UK event to test
teamwork, self-reliance, endurance, outdoor and navigational skills. The
reputation of the event is worldwide and every year we have entrants from
between 12-14 countries.”

Andrew (in Wales.)