2019 Course Planner’s Notes

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Course Planner Gary Tompsett and Course Controller Graham Gristwood share some thoughts and information about the 2019 ROC Mountain Marathon:


It is always a fascination to return to an area that has been used in previous Mountain Marathons, and not least this area, fondly remembered by participants of the Ourea Events Marmot 24(hour) event in 2015. One planning driver is that we are able to present the area and map in a ‘better and different’ way to previous events. You will soon see… another is the practical matter of changed boundaries, more fences and different landowners. Furthermore, with this event being the concluding counter in the British Mountain Marathon Championship, there is a concerted effort to enable the courses to match the distance and height gain criteria for each course category. Prepare to be ‘appropriately’ challenged!


Course Distances

  • Elite Day 1 – 38km
  • Elite Day 2 – 32km
  • A Day 1 – 34km
  • A Day 2 – 27km
  • B Day 1 – 27km
  • B Day 2 – 21km
  • C Day 1 – 23km
  • C Day 2 – 18km


NOTE – These distances are not straight line distances – they are measured along a sensible route choice (which may not be the shortest or fastest) by the course controller, and might be approximately the route that many teams might expect to travel (subject to accurate navigation!)


Driving and Car Parking Advice

Presently there are no worrisome road closures or works that we are aware of, although closer to the event centre, we have some very important routing advice for you:

Near the event field at the village of Durisdeer there is a minor public road from Durisdeer mill that is very narrow and that drops through a very severe dip at a river ford. DO NOT ACCESS this way and do not allow your GPS car navigation to take you this way. You must approach the event centre field through the crossroads at grid ref NS 889 030.

The Durisdeer village event field is good and should survive well in wet weather. Whatever your vehicle type, please head here, and do not make alternative plans or last-manoeuvres to park your vehicle in nearby road edges, village streets or at any village hall car parks.

Our Event Team will assist your parking. We do not expect difficulties with field parking, though we do advise that you familiarise yourself with the location and access to towing eyes and any chassis towing points on your vehicle. This is good knowledge for any driver.

When travelling from the south, the shortest route is to leave the M74 at junction 22 (shortly after the final junction of the M6; 45), then eventually follow around the Dumfries bypass to take the A76 north through Thornhill, right at the A702, then right, signed to Durisdeer village at Postcode DG3 5BG from where we will have signed to the event village at DG3 5BJ. Alternatively, you could stay on the M74 at take the A702 from junction 14 (south). This could be classed as the ‘scenic route’. Abington Services is just north at junction 13 which might be an important and easy detour for you before heading to the event.

When travelling from the north, take junction 14 and the A702 towards Thornhill (also signed Drumlanrig Castle) or take junction 13 via Abington Services.

FYI: There are many useful amenities and a hidden fuel station in Thornhill.

Event Centre Location:


Terrain Advice

In terms of Scottish terrain, this area is more runnable than most. Easier ground than the Lake District when off-the-trail, due to the ground being less rocky. However, there are few paths, so you will need to consider ahead how to interpret the ground, in order to reduce time spent in bracken, heather or tussock. The majority of the terrain is best described as grass; sometimes boggy moorland. It can be steep however: One half of the map has noticeably deep and steep-sided valleys, and this may affect your route choices.


The map follows all our most recent Mountain Marathon mapping standards, and is a very legible FULLY-WATERPROOFED Harveys 1:30 000 single-sided sheet with all courses over-printed and all checkpoints over-printed and described, for each day. I.e. you will receive a second map on Day 2. The map contains a symbol legend.

Crucially, boundaries are marked and if over-printed in a heavy purple line are known as ‘Uncrossable’ and must not be crossed, unless visiting a gate, gap or stile, as shown by an overprinted crossing point symbol – otherwise disqualification is likely to result. Walls and Fences use the same black line symbol. If not over-printed as uncrossable, then these fences (or ruinous walls) can be crossed, most of which are low enough to step over.

In Scotland, Public Rights of Way are not always marked, and are rarely mapped. One exception for this area is the existence of the Southern Upland Way, and we have mapped this as it often has finger posts marking the way, and either very good or faint trace of a path on the ground.

The map will then make an excellent memento for the event and the area.


The Linear and Score Courses have been developed to the event planning criteria and to the usual exacting and stimulating standards to which you expect. By consultation, we have managed to liberate large central tracts of land never achieved before, by an event for this area. The only concession has been along the western edge where there are some shooting practices taking place BEFORE, DURING and AFTER the event. It is therefore IMPERATIVE that you do not go into these areas. They are fully and clearly overprinted as Out of Bounds areas on the map.

We have Bad Weather courses planned and these would be enacted should there be torrential rain and/or very high winds. These shorter courses (and shorter time durations for the Score) are already overprinted on the maps. Some Bad Weather Courses require you to visit one or more replacement Checkpoints, not visited by the overprinted Linear course leg-lines, but as separate Checkpoint symbols, and text that describes how to visit it in the correct sequence.

There are NO manned checkpoints in this event.


Map legend and course info


An example of our typical Mountain Marathon maps



Rivers: The rivers are young in this area and we do not expect a river to prevent progress around a course. Heading downstream will likely reveal a bridge. However, even in worst weather DO NOT head into an Out of Bounds area.

Weather: We plan that most severe weather events can be tolerated by participants out on the course and that our Bad Weather courses can mitigate. We would need to consider nearer the time whether the event centre and safety management was jeopardised by such weathers.

Bogs: If the ground is flat, and the boggy area large, and bright green, then avoid it! We would ask that you do not use a fence to traverse a bog as this may damage the fence. Please go around.


Potential bog / fence hazard


Snares and other animal traps: It is possible that there are snares installed, often near to fencelines. We have not seen any. More obvious are the wooden poles with small traps installed halfway, often across a stream. DO NOT use these to cross a stream, as they are often rotten, and a breakage could cause you an injury from the resultant fall.


Potential animal trap hazard


Walls and Fences: DO NOT CLIMB OVER walls. When crossing fences, or travelling beside them, be observant to old discarded fences wires and metal fence posts. If you become aware of a broken wall or fence please describe location and other details immediately after that event day.

Shooting: The map is marked to help you navigate the very real and scheduled gamebird shooting activity that will occur during the event. Even if retiring, do not head through these mapped Out of Bounds areas.

Electric Fences: Theses are rare and would show as a mapped fence, typically uncrossable, but with crossing points shown. Despite the apparent benign nature of the fence, there are tell-tale signs that you might get a memorable shock. You might hear the fence ‘clicking’, and you should discover insulated plastic ‘handles’ at gateways, which enable you to open the wire gate and proceed > the farmer too, has to navigate through these, often on a quad bike.


Look for insulated plastic ‘handles’ at gateways for the best way to cross electric fences


2019 Event Updates

We always encourage feedback from our participants each year and it is always read and carefully considered. We are pleased to announce the following adjustments to the ROC rules and format that will hopefully make the weekend run more smoothly and satisfyingly for all involved.

Ecological Briefing Notes

We are keen to encourage personal route selection choices by participants on our events to further avoid the risk of local ecological disturbance. These Ecological Briefing Notes have been prepared for the 2019 ROC Mountain Marathon event to identify key ecological interest features that contribute to the special character of the event area, with route selection comments to help minimise the risk of localised ecological disturbance.

Local Trivia and History

These hills are owned and managed by the Buccleuch family, who have several large estates in Scotland and England. They are amenable, with good management, to assisting events that take access to their hills. The family trace back to the Marquess of Queensberry which is a title in the Peerage of Scotland, and hence the names of some hills in the event area, but also the 9th Marquess as the origination of the Queensberry Rules for the sport of boxing.


We look forward to seeing you on the weekend in the Lowther Hills!

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