Karrimor International


Boosch and Schitzel, cruising to 3rd (B)

Karrimor International Mountain Marathon

Youve probably heard of the KIMM and either competed, thought it sounded crazy or fall somewhere between the two. Having just successfully completed my third KIMM its something Id recommend all orienteers have a go at. Founded in 1968 the KIMM, is widely regarded as the toughest of all the mountain marathons, mainly due to it being held at the end of October, when the clocks change, usually in freezing conditions. As well as the long days running in the mountains (line courses are between 45 and 90km and score classes 9 to 13 hours over the 2 days) teams of two are required to take everything they need to last the race and camp overnight in the hills. This makes for a difficult balance of the weight you want to carry and what you will need to survive the night.

Thousands compete and the atmosphere at the overnight camp, the finish and even out on the course is amazing, all these people come together for a whole variety of reasons -- to meet friends, to compete with themselves, to see if we can still hack it and some simply to end the season with a push and give themselves some extra winter fitness. There are many who have clocked up 10, 15 and some have more than 20 KIMM events to their record.

Orienteers are traditionally very successful in the KIMM with this year being no exception. Most of the top Elite class teams have at least one member from an orienteering background, although they now concentrate on and train specifically for the mountain marathons. Nick Barrable and Magnus Johansson from OK Ravinen won the Long Score by a huge margin, covering more distance than the elites. Neil Northrop and Rob Little won the A class, spotting a maverick route choice on Day One, which even the planner had missed, gained them a huge advantage which they held over the Day Two course. Last minute entry Mark Saunders and Chris Sellens (pictured) took third place on the B class, having benefited from a comfortable night on their new balloon beds.

From an orienteers perspective the navigational element can be easy. The main challenge is route choice. The line courses usually have at least one long leg with some route choice options, this year the elite course had one 21km leg! However when the mist comes down, as it did this year, the navigation becomes a nightmare. At 1:40000 the maps have little detail and when you cant see more than 2 metres ahead you are dependant on just the compass. At times we were running on a bearing for a few kilometres just hoping!

The physical challenge obviously depends on the class you enter and how competitive you want to be. The A last year was a lonely slog but the B or C can be tough in a different way, you push yourself harder and are more likely to be in a race at the end. A sprint finish at the end of day two is painful, but fun!

One thing to consider is whichever class you run the KIMM really takes it out of you and you have to plan time to recover afterwards. Even if your muscles feel ok (which they probably wont!) your immune system is dramatically suppressed by extreme endurance events, which can lead to a long break from training through illness.

Its all worth it though because the sense of achievement from completing the KIMM is something special and its addictive. Mark Seddon (pictured), incredibly, won his 10th title this year and had a Redgrave moment on the finish line saying I can retire now Ive done that. But asked if he meant it he immediately reconsidered and replied,Maybe not.

For official reports, results and more photos see http://www.kimm.org.uk

- Helen Palmer (My KIMM record; 2002 2nd B, 2003 9th A, 2004 2nd C)


Elite podium 2004. John Hunt, Mark Seddon Victory

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