Last weekend 174 runners and 109 mountain bikers took to the hills surrounding Swaledale in the beautiful North Yorkshire Dales for the OMM LITE & OMM BIKE. The event, based at the Dales Bike Centre, saw the competitor’s race around the hills in search of checkpoints spread across the trails and paths of the National Park.
The weather forecast steadily improved all week, even remaining dry for the setup of the event centre and getting the courses out on the hill. By Friday lunchtime everything was ready for competitors to arrive, with Brenda and Stu from the Bike Centre having prepared a mountain of fantastic food. Having the luxury of a slightly later start just over half of the teams registered on Friday evening with the rest coming through on Saturday morning. I may now have to reconsider adding sun cream to the kit list based on the weather we all enjoyed on Saturday. Sunday promised a bright start but the rain was due to arrive by lunchtime but miraculously held off giving perfectly clear conditions with a nice cool breeze, perfect riding and running conditions.
On Saturday the competitor’s set off on their chosen courses of 7, 5 or 3 hours (Long/Polaris, Short or 3 hour non-competitive) to collect as many points as they could within their time allowance. Each team left start line looking determined to find the optimal route around the competition area.
The Polaris Challenge competition was a close run affair with the team of Ian Furlong and Amy Souter being matched on a score of 790 by Kevin Hodgson, closely chased up by Ifor Powell on 744 on the Saturday. Ian and Amy managed to pull in a strong 594 on the second day which was enough to secure them first place overall with Kevin and Ifor coming 2nd and 3rd respectively overall.
The Bike Long Score was absolutely dominated by local rider Graham Tibbot who collected a whopping 1007 points on the first day, with the next rider getting 870. This certainly generated a serious volume of conversation over a few beers that evening on whether Graham could possibly have any legs left for the following day and what would be the optimal route to look for. Setting off on the Sunday morning everyone looked fresh, although I am quite sure that there were some seriously sore legs hiding behind the smiles and we waited to see how it would unfold. Collecting another 700 points on Sunday Graham secured a convincing 1st place overall with a good competition for the remaining podium places being fought out by Mark Rowley, Andy Hilder, Phil Upton and Erica Moks. Special mention has to go to Conrad and Jill Ellison who completed yet another event on their trusty tandem, coming in smiling both days and winning the Mixed Team prize.
The Bike Short Score was another close run affair with Simons Howarth and Kirby lying in 1st place after day 1, closely followed by Jeff Mew and the teams of Graham and Martin Sellens and Emma van der Gucht and Carina Hirz not far behind. Recently returning from injury, Jeff was not to be outdone and had a strong day2 pushing him into 1st place overall, forcing both Simons into 2nd place, with Emma and Carina taking 3rd overall and 1st female prizes.
Following the success of the last OMM Lite in Bamford we were really looking forward to welcoming all the teams to this event. The concept behind the event is to provide a platform for experienced runners to stretch their legs and get the training miles in, whilst also offering a very relaxed platform for people who have never done anything like this before and the feedback is that you like it! It was great to see a good mixture of experienced OMM competitors and those coming to the challenge for the first time. I am looking forward to finding out how the event has worked as a training event for the OMM later next month with quite a few teams lining it up for the first time.
The winning team of Ralph Baines and Barry Awan on the OMM Lite Long Score who took 1st place overall and the Veterans prize proved that experience counts for a lot over the younger legs of Fred Prall and Johan Gausden who finished only 27 points behind after the two days, beating Richard Walklate and Charles Brent into 3rd place overall with an extremely tight 3 point margin. The team of Alice Asbury and Robyn Cassidy took the 1st Female prize which is worthy of note as one of the ladies (no names) had never competed on anything like this before.
The OMM Lite Short Score title was closely fought with the top 7 teams all within 50 points of each other at the end of day 1. Day 2 saw some changes in the top placings but no one was able to catch Mark Nooney and Jon Cresswell who finished with 742 points. 2nd place went to the family team of Graham and Sam Atkinson, a very strong effort as to qualify for the family prize one of the team must be aged 16 years or younger on the day of the event and taking 2nd place overall against some experienced runners is a real achievement. 3rd place was claimed by Richard Page and Neil Towers who produced solid performances on both days. Brendon and Alison Howe took the Mixed team prize and I hope that Alison enjoyed her first experience of an OMM event as much as Brendon enjoyed bringing her on it!
One of the significant differences between the OMM and the OMM Lite events is that they are not open access. Events are governed by different regulations than individuals and cannot use open access land without specific permissions in place. Unfortunately, some teams did take open access routes to some of the checkpoints. I took the decision to deduct the points gained from the checkpoints reached via these routes and allow all teams to remain competitive. This information will now also appear on the event maps for the next time in the Derbyshire Dales in April. It is absolutely vital that we maintain good relationships with landowners, organisations and tenants who manage, own and have responsibility for the areas in which we have the events and I would like to thank all f you for supporting us in this.
We were completely spoiled by fantastic weather over the weekend, well fed by Brenda and Stu at the event centre and presented with some great route choices by Steve Willis and his team. Jens Strain and Harvey Maps produced very good quality mapping for the event and I would also like to say a big thank you the North Yorkshire Scouts and all the other volunteers who willingly support the event.
The final thank you goes out to all of you who turned up and worked so hard over the weekend, offering some very interesting competition and hopefully enjoyed yourselves.
Next month the OMM comes around for the 48th edition prior to OMM Japan in November and we are already looking forward to welcoming you to the OMM Lite and Bike in Derbyshire next April. More information will be out as soon as we have it regarding the events next year. Take good care and enjoy the hills. See you soon!