Getting Started with Mountain Marathons

Are regular marathons getting too easy for you? Do you dream of combining your love of long distance walks and camping with competitive racing? If so then a mountain marathon might be just what you are looking for.

What are Mountain Marathons?

These events usually take place over two days, with the competitors’ skills in fell running, orienteering and surviving overnight in the wild being tested to the limit. The majority of the entrants compete in teams of two and they are expected to already have a good level of ability in the skills needed in the races. The locations and routes are often kept secret until as close to the start as possible in order to ensure the runners orienteering skills are sufficiently tested.

While the entrants have to carry their gear with them, including the tents for the overnight camp, thankfully a range of products have sprung up around these races which include lightweight tents and other specialist lightweight equipment.

The Best Mountain Marathons

Like all types of racing, there are some highlights in the mountain marathon calendar that are not to be missed.  Here is a quick overview of the most popular races of this type:

Original Mountain Marathon (OMM)

This race was previously known as the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon (KIMM) and has been running since 1968. The location changes with each year but takes place on a hill or mountain in the UK, although the course is not made known to the entrants until the start of race. This makes the OMM a great test of the competitors orienteering skills as well as their physical fitness and team working abilities.

As the OMM is a two day race, each team must carry all their gear with them for the overnight camp. There are seven classes of competition, so no matter what your abilities are, there should be something for you to aim for, ranging from the Elite 80km class in 12 hours to the more leisurely D class 40 km in 8 hours.

Wherever this mountain race takes place this year, you can be sure it will be a challenging event and a great way to test you mountaineering abilities.

Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon (SLMM)

This two day race has been going since 1978, only pausing in 2001 due to the foot and mouth crisis of that year. The SLMM is usually held in or around the Lake District making for some spectacular surroundings while running your socks off.

Due to the race being held in July, the weather is often more forgiving than some of the other mountain marathons that take place, making it a good choice for those looking for a more enjoyable challenge rather than all-out battle against the elements.

There are a number of courses on offer, of which nearly all apart from one are team events. There is also now a junior course too that is open to pairs including one junior and their guardian.

Mourne Mountain Marathon

Held each year in the Mourne Mountains of County Down, Northern Ireland, this two day race takes places during September, with this year being the 34th iteration of the competition. Teams of two take part in the race and receive the information for the day’s course at the start of each day. The teams can choose their own routes over the course but must visit each of the control markers in the set order.

All gear required for the overnight camp must be carried by the racers making it a test of your packing abilities as well as strength, endurance and map reading skills. There are four classes to enter of varying difficulty, so there is no reason why you shouldn’t give the Morune Mountain Marathon a go!

Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM)

The LAMM is a classic fell running race for teams of two that takes place in the Scottish Highlands in June most years. While the race has only been going since 1994 it has gained a good reputation as a high quality competition leading to growing numbers taking part in each event.

Like all good mountain marathons, the course is shrouded in secrecy before the start with the location not revealed until 48 hours before the race day. To add to the intrigue, the locations of the checkpoints are not disclosed until stepping over the start line at the beginning of the race. This makes the LAMM a serious test of your on the go navigation skills.


Hopefully you are now sold on the idea of mountain marathons and are ready to consider entering one of these tough challenges.

Latest posts by Joe Fylan (see all)

Please rate this

Share This:

Leave a Reply