2017 Race Director’s Report

 In News


2017 Event Film One fine, maybe ever-so-slightly muddy 🚜🙈, weekend of Running, Orienteering, & Camping around the SW Fells of the Lake District… Posted by ROC Mountain Marathon on Monday, 25 September 2017


Welcome to the ‘ROC’

Many thanks for taking part in the first edition of the ROC Mountain Marathon™! In years to come, you’ll proudly be able to say you were there! Although this was the first ‘ROC’, the event is born from the rich history of ten previous editions of the RAB Mountain Marathon beforehand. Effectively this was the 11th edition of this event on the last weekend of September, and it is our absolute intention to continue delivering a high quality Mountain Marathon on this date. The weekend certainly had it challenges for the participants with some great courses designed by Gary Tompsett and Graham Gristwood, that made the most of the unusual Lake District terrain found in that South Western corner. The low cloud, and misty conditions will certainly make Saturday memorable for everyone, and it was great to have a contrast on Sunday with largely clear skies and views to larger Lake District mountains and coast.

Wonderful hills, maps, fun and friendship. What Mountain Marathons should be about! © Steve Ashworth

Congratulations to all everyone who took part. As many of you will know, I am very passionate about ensuring that Mountain Marathons have a long term future, and the relaunch of the ROC in 2017 is part of my commitment to Mountain Marathon events. It was particularly satisfying to see some younger people taking part, and encouraging youth participation will continue to be a long-term focus on mine. As such, I feel it is important to embrace new technology like GPS tracking which helps to reach out to a wider audience and to keep the event relevant to a younger generation who expect seamless integration of technology.

Low cloud made for tricky navigation for most of Saturday © Steve Ashworth

The 11th ROC Mountain Marathon™ was a success, and it has been satisfying to see the event evolve in small steps since Ourea Events took it on in 2014. I believe that the introduction of the GPS tracking and linear courses in 2016 have been well received, and already they feel like a core element of the event. Certainly I expect the ROC Mountain Marathon to continuing flourishing in the years to come and above all, I expect the fun, friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the event to remain, at the same time as we continue to make improvements in the quality and delivery of the event. I look forward to welcoming you back on 29th and 30th September 2018.

British Mountain Marathon Champs

2017 was a test year for the new British Mountain Marathon Championships, which is a best of two results from Marmot Dark Mountains™, LAMM, and the ROC Mountain Marathon™. The ROC Mountain Marathon™ was the final race in the series and the overall ranking for the year can be seen on MountainMarathon.com. Overall, much has been learnt during the year, and we greatly appreciate the feedback and comments received. Please consider making 2018 your year of Mountain Marathon excellence as the events in the series work together to harmonise courses, rules and standards. Watch for updates on MountainMarathon.com.


Maps and Control Descriptions issued by Event Team member Kevin Powderly at the start of Day 1 © Steve Ashworth

The Event Team

Many of the ROC Mountain Marathon™ team also worked on the Salomon Skyline Scotland™ event the weekend before. A small number also worked on our 10Peaks™ event the weekend before that! They are a super dedicated team of both professional and volunteer staff, and I can’t thank everyone involved enough for helping to make it happen. Volunteering at an event is a fantastic way to see it from the other side, and put something back into the mountain running community. If you are interested to help, please check the information on the Ourea Events website. The Team for 11th ROC Mountain Marathon was:

  • Alexander Major
  • Andrew Sadler
  • Anthony Biebuyck
  • Carwyn “Caz’ Phillips
  • Clara Samson
  • Dave Cumins
  • Emma Dent
  • Gary Tompsett
  • Graham Gristwood
  • Helen Samson
  • Ian Cowie
  • Keith “Monty” Montgomery
  • Kevin Powderly
  • Nick Morrall
  • Paul Imrie
  • Paul Weaving
  • Philip Wilkinson
  • Rosanna Kuit
  • Steve Ashworth
  • Stuart Smith
  • Sue Dowker

Car Parking

The Event Centre car parking looked to be problematic from the moment we first arrived. Despite looking excellent in the summer, with a prolonged period of wet weather, access and use changed! We had already switched from our plan A, to our plan B field before the first vehicle arrived, and despite use of road planings, straw and vehicle matting, by mid-evening the parking field had become churned up, and two issues were prominent on my mind as the Race Director. First, the safety of the Event Team involved with encouraging vehicles to drive ‘assertively’ into the field, which were then not fully controlled, and the pushing of stuck vehicles, all done in the dark. Also, I was worried that vehicles queuing to enter the field, would eventually back-up to the A595 and have the potential to cause an obstruction to a fast road. We made the decision to close the Event Centre to further traffic, and use the public car parking at Silecroft, and then provide shuttle transport to and from the Event Centre. Clearly this was safer, and on balance I felt that participants would prefer the longer journey, than to spend hours queuing and/or being stuck in a muddy field. Many thanks to Peter Rand of Whicham Parish Council for being so understanding.

Because of the delayed arrival times of the Saturday morning participants, due to the changed parking arrangements, we did extend the registration times, start times, and course closure times on Saturday.


Feedback is very important to us, and any comments you have – good or bad – are very much appreciated. Please can you send these to us via our website contact form, or email info@ROCMountainMarathon.com

Post Event Survey

It is also very important for us to collect economic impact data from the event. Please take 5 minutes to complete this simple online survey. This survey is for anyone who had an entry, regardless of whether they actually participated in the event.

Heather Ohly, winning female on the B Course (proud Race Director moment) © Steve Ashworth

GPS Tracking & Mapping

We introduced GPS Tracking at the event in 2016, and it was well received by the vast majority of participants. For us as an organisational team there are huge and obvious safety management benefits. However, there are other organisational benefits, such as being able to collect Checkpoints on both Saturday and Sunday just behind the final teams. In fact, we had managed to clear the entire event area of every checkpoint and sign by early evening on Sunday! From a fairness perspective, I also believe that GPS Tracking has obvious benefits, with teams, whether accidentally or deliberately, that cross through ‘Out of Bounds’ Areas or over ‘Uncrossable Boundaries’. This can be obvious to us at the time, and/or when we play back the tracking data after the event.

Whilst we introduced the GPS Tracking, there is a greater onus on us to produce higher quality mapping, and GB Orienteer Graham Gristwood has been working with us this year, planning events, managing the production of maps, and acting as controller. The benefits have been a number of incremental improvements to the quality and standardisation of our mapping, and I think the 2017 ROC Mountain Marathon ™ is the best Mountain Marathon maps we have produced. That said, the the purple lines of our uncrossable boundaries were not as clear as we expected in our final printed maps, and we feel this contributed to some mistakes from a small number of participants. If you have any specific comments about the map, please let us know.

Competing with her Mum, Jasmin Paris and Alena Vencovska were the first Women’s Vet team on the Short Score © Steve Ashworth

Rule Infringements

The first thing to say is that we take no pleasure in penalising teams. We want you to have a great weekend, and time penalties and disqualifications are not conducive to this. However, we also need to balance the fact that the ROC Mountain Marathon™ is an event rooted in navigational competency, and when the clear majority of the teams respect our ‘Uncrossable Boundaries’ and ‘Out of Bounds Areas’, we must act against the teams that do not, whether through genuine mistakes, or rarely to gain an unfair advantage. Rule Infringements – Saturday

  • Seven teams/soloists crossed the Uncrossable Boundary between 216 and 217, and they have all been penalised 15 minutes.
  • Three teams/soloists crossed through an Out of Bounds Area and they have been disqualified.

Rule Infringements – Sunday

  • Five teams/soloists crossed the Uncrossable Boundary between 216 and 217, and they have all been penalised 15 minutes.
  • One team/soloists crossed through an Out of Bounds Area and they have been disqualified.

The teams/soloists in question have been emailed.

Most of these Uncrossable Boundary infringements happened at a similar location, which was the Uncrossable Boundary in the valley marked between 216 and 2017 (West of Stoneside Hill). We have carefully reviewed this and believe that the map is partly at fault, with the purple Uncrossable Boundary line not being as clear as we would like. However, whilst replaying the tracking data, more participants approached the fence, paused, and upon realising it was marked as Uncrossable, then headed east (uphill) to the marked crossing point (see the example below), than crossed the fence. Therefore, whilst it would be unfair to disqualify on this occasion, it would be grossly unfair for the teams that made the uphill slog to the marked crossing point not to be rewarded. Therefore, we have issued a 15-minute time penalty for all teams that crossed this boundary incorrectly.

The results have been recalculated and this does change some of the overall prize positions.

We consult deeply with landowners, and although some areas on the Open Fell are legally Open Access areas, complete with fences, we often make trade-off’s that are designed to reduce disturbance to farming practices, and enable access to larger areas for the event. So whether a fence is physically ‘uncrossable’ or not, is irrelevant, as we will have made agreements with landowners, and farmers to allow the event to proceed.

At the ROC Mountain Marathon this year, this also caused us to produce the Hefted Sheep Guidance Note. We would appreciate feedback on whether you found the learned techniques deployable and useful.

Jonathon Davies winner of the Long Score © Steve Ashworth

Official Results

After the corrections (above), the finalised results are now available on the 2017 results page

GPX Download

GPX files for each of the teams are now available for download (zip archive only suitable for desktop, sorry not mobile). Sorry, we can not help with any technical query on use of this raw GPS data which is extracted out of the GPS tracker worn by each of the teams out on the course over the weekend.

Thank Yous

  • Robert Eyton-Morris and family, of Beckside Farm
  • Common Grazing Committee of Black and White Combe
  • Iona and Peter Pennington-Frost of Muncaster Castle & Estate
  • Dennis & Christine Crowe & family of Woodend Farm
  • Pete’s Taxis of Millom
  • George Armstrong of Silecroft
  • Peter Rand of Whicham Parish Council
  • National Trust
  • David Broom Ecologist
  • Cumbria Council

1% For The Planet Donation

As usual, we will be donating 1% of the entire event revenue from the 2018 ROC Mountain Marathon™ to organisations involved in environmental sustainability and protection.

Control Descriptions

If you would like to download the control descriptions for all the different courses you can do so here.

ROC 2017 Photos

Do you know these keen-looking navigators? Tag them! ROC Mountain Marathon 2017 Photos: Lake District Images Posted by ROC Mountain Marathon on Tuesday, 26 September 2017

An incredible sunrise at our remote overnight camp © Steve Ashworth

The 2018 Event

The 2018 date will be Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September. As there are 5 weekends in September in 2018, this means that there will be a two week break between the ROC Mountain Marathon™, and Salomon Skyline Scotland™, meaning you’ll be able to do both events! I’ll look forward to welcoming you back next year.

In The Meantime…

We’d hate to leave it a whole year until we meet again. Perhaps you are brave enough to enter Marmot Dark Mountains™, our winter overnight mountain marathon, in January? Marmot Dark Mountains™ will kick off the 2018 British Mountain Championship and after our ‘test’ year in 2017, there is likely to be considerably more depth of competition in 2018, and there will certainly be considerably more focus from Ourea Events on the Championship.

Or perhaps you fancy the leisurely (think beer, cake, overnight camp kit transported for you, more paths than beelining…) Silva Great Lakeland 3Day™ in early May? The 2018 event is our 20th anniversary so there will be some specialness for the event with a Wainwrights course that naturally features 20 Wainwrights, wood-fired pizza options at the Overnight Camp, and a special presentation from Joe Faulkner the founder of the event, and the only person to complete all four Berghaus Dragon’s Back Races™. We really hope that you’ll be able to join us for this special three day weekend.

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