It's a simple idea - 24 hours to get as many checkpoints as you can. For its second year the Marmot 24 moved north over the border to the Lowther Hills which provided a stunning but very tough landscape for this score event . This was to be my first oppurtunity to fully test my knee over 24 hours after the damage it sustained during my close encounter with a Greenland avalanche back in April.
Chasing the eventual winner of the 12 hour competition Chris Baynham-Hughes from the start I headed north looking for quick points. Chris was flying but a couple of minor navigation errors on his part kept him within reach for the first few checkpoints before we went our seperate ways. The weather was perfect but looking to the south I could see the rest of the course suffering under heavy rain. Course planner Gary Tompsett had done a great job and there were a huge number of route choices to be made, in fact I went 8 hours without seeing another competitor
An amazing sunset found me trotting through Wanlockhead, the highest village in Britian where I made the first of my big decisions. Recognising that I was running myself into a bit of a cul-de-sac which would limit my choices later in the event I opted to leave the three checkpoints in the far north west and commit to a big climb and some tricky nav to cross the range of hills to the east of Green Lowther. The big effort I'd put in during daylight hours had paid off earning me 200 points in the first twelve hours but it was obvious that things were going to become more tricky...
As the night wore on the temperature dropped sharply and at one point sucking on my hydration bladder I found ice forming in the bite valve. Wearing every layer I was carrying I was able to maintain some warmth while running but the sun was a long time coming. However it was worth waiting for with a stunning cloud inversion below dozens of slowly turning wind turbines
My second big choice of the event was whether to loop south around the main out of bounds area which gave the oppurtunity of a number of spread out checkpoints or to make a big effort to climb over Comb Law and access a cluster closer to the finish. I went with the latter climbing into the cloud for a couple of hours. Mid morning brought the return of the sunny weather and a couple of good navigation choices meant I cleared the area and was trotting back towards the finish with a lot of spare time. With only a few hundred meters to go I suddenly remembered an outlying checkpoint approximatly 3km beyong the finish which I thought might just about be achieviable before midday. It hurt but I managed it getting back with 8 minutes to spare for a total of 340 points and third place overall. Even more significant the knee was still in one piece so fingers crossed for the UTMB at the end of August