The Original Mountain Marathon returns to the Lake District for its 50th anniversary this year
The OMM is a legendary two-day race in the British mountains. Established in 1968 and taking place at the end of each October to ensure hardcore (read: miserable) conditions, the OMM attracts endurance mountain runners who must travel light while covering massive distances over challenging terrain. Bog-wading, light packs, big miles and spartan wild camps are all par for the course. If that sounds brilliant, the OMM may be for you. This year’s race is already full at 2,000 competitors and a waiting list of 300, but there’s always next year.
There are several different courses at different levels of challenge. The hardest is the gruelling Elite Class Course, recognised by professional athletes worldwide and a favourite of elite military forces. The leaders will complete the course of 120km (75 miles) and 4,500m (14,763′) of ascent in a punishing ten hours over the two days. Returning champions Shane Ohly and Duncan Archer are keen to claim the 50th race title.
OMM said: “OMM is a community of people passionate about being in the mountains. The race is passed down through generations and it’s great to see so many mixed family teams running together for the 50th. We wanted to hold the event in a special location that would have meaning for everyone. There have been so many iconic OMM race locations over the years; the first in Muker back in 1968, the ‘Howling Howgills’ or the infamous 2008 event in Borrowdale. It was really tough to decide where it should be.
“After much discussion we chose the Lake District. Firstly, because the race hadn’t been there for 10 years, secondly because it provides us with excellent courses to navigate and thirdly because Gerry Charnley, who started the race, has a memorial below Esk Pike, which felt very appropriate. This year we’re pleased to be holding the event at the head of the Langdale Valley in the Lake District and stretching 400km2 into the central Lakes. We’d like to thank the Lake District National Park, National Trust and all the landowners involved for their overwhelming support of the event.”
The OMM is a non-profit event and takes pride in being a good example of how events should be run in the outdoors. It’s estimated that each OMM race brings in around £200,000 for the local economy – a factor that has contributed to its enduring popularity.
This year’s race takes place on the 28th-29th of October. You can watch coverage of the 50th anniversary through the OMM website.