The OMM (formerly KIMM - Karrimor International Mountain Marathon) took place this year whilst we were in Egypt. We caught sight of what appeared to be a debacle on the news in our hotel in Alexandria.
Two friends of ours, Bob and Rose of backpackinglight.co.uk, took part in the event. This is what Bob wrote on their home page after the event:
What Was All The Fuss About?
The BBC (and other news media) should be ashamed of themselves following the inaccurate and irresponsible reporting of the recent OMM event which took place in Borrowdale, Cumbria. Over 2000 competitors ‘chose’ to go on the hills and enter the race, all were ‘equipped’ with the right gear to suit the occasion. How this turned into ‘1700 Marathon Runners stranded or need to be rescued’ I have no idea.
All the news reports we’ve watched or read since our return clearly show a total disregard for the facts, no clear knowledge of how the event was run, what it entailed, and certainly very little experience of being in those conditions and relying on yourself to either ‘self rescue’ (if required), or complete the event. A quick visit to The OMM forum would answer most of these questions.
We spent five and a half hours in these very, very tough conditions, picked up as many points as we could, and got to the camp only to be told it was cancelled. We then walked for another hour or more to the top of Honister Pass in equally terrible head wind and wet conditions (probably worse to be truthful) only to be told this too was closed. So then we had to walk back down the river/road to the cowshed to join some 500 other people and spend a very comfortable night munching on our rations, tucked up nice and warm in the kit we all carried with us.
To clarify; we saw no one (a) complain, (b) in danger, (c) requiring rescue or (d) needing first aid. We did see competitors helping each other across swollen rivers, checking each other were okay and voluntarily retiring as they had reached their own personal limit. The OMM is a tough event, it isn’t suitable for media desk jockies who can’t manage the stairs to the BBC gym. There was one serious injury of a broken ankle, the rest was various stages of hypothermia, after 8 hours in those conditions, we ALL had mild hypothermia, BUT we all KNEW what to do about it.
There are many complaints being made to the BBC today and I am certainly one of the complainants. Their irresponsible reporting has caused unnecessary distress and concern to many loved ones of those taking part, when very few, if any, people were in danger. The biggest problem was the flooded cars on our return to HQ, but ‘hey, that’s life’!
I’m working on a podcast of the event, our performance, the gear and to get the story behind the story, so make sure you stayed tuned for that one!!
Update: THIS is the original video clip the BBC adapted to tell their story!
All the best
Bob and Rose 27/10/08
Since then Richard Askwith, a fell runner who was perplexed by the story being portrayed by the media, has attempted to redress the balance with this pertinent article in The Independent.
Bob himself has in his persona as 'Podcast Bob' produced two Podcasts. The first covers his and Rose's experience of this OMM:
The second covers the aftermath:
Whilst my readers may not be interested in the fine detail of all this, it does provide a disturbing example of irresponsible reporting. Bob tells me that subtle changes have been made to the BBC's on-line reports following the furore from those who took part.
I thought you ought to know about it.
The photo is courtesy of Bob and Rose, and shows walkers returning to their cars over Honister Pass the morning after the event was cancelled; many of them no doubt would have been happy to continue and were extremely disappointed that the organisers had felt it necessary to cancel the event the previous day.