The original Mountain Marathon came to Largs earlier this month.

Two local hill running enthusiasts known as team “Ayrshire Tatties”, Alasdair McCallum from Largs and Tommy Begley from Kilwinning recently took to the hills behind Largs competing in the ‘Original Mountain Marathon’
This event was created in 1968 to allow those who love the mountains an opportunity to test their abilities and it is the largest of its kind in Europe with over 2,000 eager competitors entered. 
The fundamentals of this event are self-reliance, route selection, moving quickly over difficult terrain, kit management, endurance, teamwork & sound mountain judgement. 
It is a two-day fell running and navigation challenge for pairs with an overnight camp. Day one – 25km / 1100m of ascent Day two – 20km / 900m of ascent.
A sunny Kelburn Castle provided the start line facilities thanks to the generosity of Lord Glasgow and his team. With stunning vistas of Arran and direct access to the moors; the checkpoint studded hill sides were prepped and ready for the off.
It was a case of battling across the boggy abyss. Across the start, 2,000 competitors said goodbye to dry feet with the first ascent ankle deep in mud and littered with invisible knee deep hazards. There’s a few tactics when dealing with hidden boggy holes; one, go slow, test the ground before committing a foot placement or two, the tactic to march on in some kind of bog roulette effort. After the first 10km you could see the competitors embrace the second and the inevitable boggy abyss of the terrain.
Alasdair and Tommy at Muirshiel Country Park, the overnight campsite, receiving a kit check.
The 200km2 quickly silenced critics as it revealed its challenges. Endless ascents and descents over bog, tussock and heathery fells pushed even the hardiest of competitors to their limits. This rarely visited by ‘normal’ outdoor folk area provided sparse, if any, path sightings leaving the relentless terrain to be tackled head on. Many will have experienced waist level submergence; one even described his team-mate flagging down four passing competitors to assist his release from an armpit deep dunking. It was a weekend of ankle and knee obliteration, with so few paths to be found that from ‘plodders’ to ‘elite’, we all faced one hell of a challenge and you knew it was only a matter of time until you were swallowed by a bog. You just hoped your shoe was still there when you pulled yourself out.
A year for the navigators... The Mountain Marathon was created to be a test of mountain ability. The strength and training to see who can run the hardest combining with the experience and navigational skills to pick the best route. The undulating non-descript features were expected to favor the orienteers. However, the sun shines on those who deserve it and perfect visibility changed the challenge to focus on route selection and hill observation to find the most forgiving passage. Heavy rains and hail fell overnight but fortunately only short showers flashed through on day two and teams enjoyed great views to ease the navigational challenge back to the event center at Kelburn Castle.
Alasdair and Tommy who are presently ranked 3rd in Britain finished 5th from 115th in the B class and fastest Vets by 1:20mins.
Full results can be found here -