The Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) is a distinctive contest. Once renowned as the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon it is a true classic when it comes to running competitions. Some people regard this race the forerunner of adventure racing. Since the first edition in 1968, squads of two take on weathered territory in the north of Great Britain. The course is never the same as line-ups have to navigate themselves around the fells, reach certain checkpoints and sleep in an overnight camp. The teams themselves must transport every part of gear.
Shane Ohly and his buddy Duncan Archer won the OMM back in 2011 and also this year’s version as the course led throughout the picturesque Glen Trool valley in the Southern Uplands of Galloway, Scotland. Shane is a former professional climber and now a full time mountain runner. He also a Director of business with race organisation company Ourea Events in the UK.
Runsel: Yourself and companion Duncan Archer just won the elite category in the 49th running of the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM). After 2011 this was your second win in this iconic competition. The OMM is a contest that requires a pretty wide-ranging skilfulness. Now, a couple of weeks after the competition, what are you most proud of?
Shane Ohly: Not getting injured! Seriously though, we worked so efficiently as a team and despite a big lead at the end of day one we kept pushing ourselves at 100% effort level all the way through to the finish.
|© Ben Winston|
Runsel: How did yourself and Duncan Archer meet up? In what way do you folks get ready for a extraordinary race like the OMM?
Shane: We met though orienteering, but then when I was working for inov-8 I stayed with Duncan (and his wife Pippa) who lived close by, we often climbed together in the evenings at the climbing wall. Somewhere along the line I suggested to Duncan that he did a mountain marathon with me. I think he was quite sceptical at first because a mountain marathon is a big change from the classic orienteering races that Duncan had been focused on before.
|Duncan and Shane captured during last years OMM around the Tweedsmiur Hills.|
Runsel: Racing as a team is pretty special. What is the most important factor when you race with somebody?
Shane: We push each other really hard whilst racing, but are usually very well matched, so although we both have highs and lows we are very good at motivating each other and keeping our average effort level high. We are also both very competitive but in a relaxed and easy-going manner. It works well for us.
|© Alex Telfer|
Runsel: In addition to the navigation and running talents it seems that you have to have your gear-game totally dialled in. What stuff do you guys use and what is the most vital part that can be found in your rucksack?
Shane: Getting the gear right takes lots of experience, and I have been regular mountain marathon competitor for about 15 years… Perhaps I am slow learner! It is hard to single out one particular item of kit as essential, but the high value items like your tent and sleeping bag can save the most in weight, if you are prepared invest a lot in the kit. This year, we were given some amazing new 100g 3-layer waterproof jackets from Berghaus (the Hyper 100), and they are brilliant. I suspect many people will be using these in the future.
|Only a few kilometres left on the second day of last years OMM.|
Runsel: You took on running in 2002. Subsequently you have been pretty busy round several hills and mountains. What’s inspiring you? What outlines the beauty of running for yourself?
Shane: I love the experience of the mountains; the wilderness, the commitment, the challenge. I like the sense of moving quickly in technical terrain and covering big distances, and most of all I like big solo adventures. It is a great life affirming experience.
|© Ben Winston|
Runsel: You are a well-decorated mountain runner. Which competitions are still on your “To-Do” list and why?
Shane: I have been doing some of the Skyrunning World Series races in the last two years, and so far I have failed to actually have a good race. It must be the most odd period of poor form and bad luck ever! I like these races because they challenge all my weakness; generally they are runnable (I prefer rough ground) and they are always marked courses (I prefer orienteering style events).
|Shane during this years OMM around Glen Trool.|
Runsel: Which running record do you rate the highest?
Shane: My favourite record is Jasmin Paris‘s Charlie Ramsay Round record in Scotland. I had the pleasure of supporting one of the legs, and she went onto break both the men’s and the women’s record. It was an amazing episode of running, and I was proud to help her in small way.