Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Sunday, 26 October 2008

Floods strand runners: your stories

Thousands of runners who took part in a Lake District race hit by treacherous weather are now accounted for, police say.

BBC News website readers who took part in Original Mountain Marathon race sent us their accounts of the event:


Stuart McInnes sent this video of the race

My son and I where amongst those who started the Original Mountain Marathon this morning. Based on over 20 years experience in the UK's mountains and knowledge of my son's capabilities I took the decision about 40 minutes after starting not to continue and returned to the event centre.

This event is designed to test the mountain skills and judgement of the competitors and hence is deliberately staged at this time of the year where the elements play a significant part. Bearing in mind the ethos of the event and necessary experience required of entrants I believe that the decision to allow the event to go ahead was the right one. Clearly some competitors had not taken the conditions into account with their choice of equipment or their route selection today. I will not hesitate to enter future events organised by those who put so much effort into this years Original Mountain Marathon.
Mike Skehel, St Briavels, Gloucs

My mate and I were in the race but quickly realised all was going pear-shaped and so made the difficult decision to come back. We had difficulty getting down due to streams becoming fast torrents of water and 'waterfalls' springing out of nowhere. We somehow got down to the car but the water-logged car park was proving impossible to escape.

Thankfully my Land Rover just made it out and I managed to tow out another race team. We got out just in time it seems before the roads were completely flooded. Hope everyone is OK and manages to get some shelter. We are counting ourselves very lucky.
Lewis Peattie, Berkhamsted, Herts

I was taking part in the event. The weather was very bad; gale force winds and torrential rain. However, the event is for experienced fell runners and everyone should have been able to cope. The obvious risks are the rivers that are in spate and uncrossable and hypothermia.

My partner and I were lucky to get back to Penrith tonight after we completed out course. Certainly we heard that the road through Borrowdale was under 7ft of water and that the road at the end of the Honiston pass was about to be submerged at the only passable ford. As for the competitors, many were stuck in a huge farmers barn at they planned overnight campsite. They should be fine, as should any stuck on hill, as everyone has to carry tent, sleeping bag, food and cooking equipment during the event.

The Original Mountain Marathon is one of the best organised events of its type and I am sure the organisers will be doing everything they can.
Shane Ohly, Sheffield

My husband (61) and I (54) competed in the OMM. We are both experienced mountaineers and have completed many mountain marathons in the past.

The weather was extreme - probably the worst non-winter conditions either of us have been out in, and at one stage we ended up being swept off our feet as we tried to cross a river. Despite that we had a great day, our course was well planned and we were well equipped for the weather.

The organisation, as always, was very efficient and it had been clear for several days before that the weather would be bad this weekend and we had been repeatedly reminded to take appropriate equipment. We, for example, had made the decision to take a heavier tent and to seal our dry clothing in plastic bags to ensure that we could look after ourselves.

We were going well until we met someone who said the event was cancelled and when we got back to Event HQ at 1500 we found that our car, which we had parked on the road, was about four foot under water.

There seemed little that we could do to help either our situation or other people and so we made the decision to hitch a lift in a Land Rover out of the area. The road conditions descending from the Honister Pass were spectacular. Runners were being blown off their feet; the road was a river, covered in rocks and 'stoppers', the hillside white with swollen streams.

Liz Campbell, Lyth Valley, Cumbria

My wife and I, both in our early 60s, were competitors in the OMM. The weather was dry but windy and overcast when we left the starting line. It deteriorated steadily. After nearly two hours on the fell it was intermittently impossible to walk against the wind because of driving sleet-laden high winds.

We abandoned the race and at about 1pm returned to the event centre to register our return. The road being blocked by water we walked the length of Borrowdale. We walked on the road through flood water up to waist deep.

We strongly support the organisers of the event. The requirements of entry to the event are that each pair of competitors has the experience and the equipment to undergo an emergency overnight camp on the high fells. The competitors are experienced adults.

Clyde Mitchell, Keswick, Cumbria

This is the premier survival event in Europe, if not the world: all competitors are carefully checked for their ability to take part, and their kit has to be capable of taking all the weather that could be experienced - the essence of the event is to test the skill and endurance of competitors, and to test the quality of the kit currently in the market.

All competitors make their own decisions as to whether to start, whether to continue, or whether to camp up for the night somewhere sheltered. That is part of the event.

You'll find that even teams from the elite SAS only finish in the 150's to 200's in any given course of maybe 250 teams. The competitors are very good. The organisation is impeccable. You'll probably find over 90% or more of the teams will be really disappointed that the event has been cancelled.

All they'll get is a rough night's wet and windy sleep for a few hours. Then they'll wake up to a glorious sunrise and thoroughly enjoy their run back to race HQ.

Joe Lee, Birmingham

I was a competitor and by 11 am it was clear the conditions were becoming impossible.

At that point we were not far from the start point after navigating around the preset map plots so were able to return the barn and formally retire. Our desire was then to exit the valley and the area before we became stranded but it took us an hour to exit the parking area as our vehicle and others became bogged down. With the help of those around we got four cars free from the field and moved quickly towards Keswick. We carefully went through the flooded roads and obviously only just escaped being stranded.

This event is very well run for experienced competitors but the conditions deteriorated so badly and very quickly many will have been caught out but should have been able to make it to shelter, as your website describes.
Tony Hewitson, Liverpool

I took part in the event with my girlfriend. We expected the bad weather and were prepared for it. I think this will be the case for most of the competitors.

What has caught most people out is the flooding between the main road and the event centre. People who walked back from the night camp had to wade through waist deep water to the car park and centre, they are stranded because they can't get their cars out, many are under water.

I was fortunate and parked my car on the North end of the access road before the flood. We were able to drive over Honister pass and back to Keswick with little issue (giving a lift to 2 who were less fortunate.) The conditions are wild. The next problem may be the lake level on Derwent Water.
Jimmy Taylor, Keswick

I and my colleague were on this event and at the start apart from high winds and heavy cloud but off the tops conditions looked passable as long as one took care.

After about one hour the rain started at first as drizzle, but then it suddenly became very heavy. We were between the start at Seathwaite Farm and Stonethwaite and after a difficult descent into the valley decided to take a track and the road via Honister Path direct to Gatescarth Farm where the overnight camp was located. However as we ascended the hills above Seatoller the gusts became more violent, and the prospect of very difficult camping at Gatescarth probably with flooding became big factors in our decision.

Returning to Seathwaite Farm it became apparent that major flooding was imminent and large numbers of people were coming to retire. It took us nearly an hour to extricate our vehicle from the parking field after pushing 3 other vehicles out though the mud. OMM participants are responsible and try to ensure any risks are contained and have to carry tents, survival kit, first aid, and emergency rations in case something goes wrong.

This competition is international, with entries from all over the world and in my experience of four previous events and this one is extremely well organised.
David Adams, Stratford upon Avon

I have just got back to Keswick after completing the first day of this race. The OMM is not any old charity run, it is a serious race for experienced fell runners. The organisers do a very good job of sorting out all the safety issues, but more importantly all competitors know the risks and prepare themselves accordingly with all the kit they need to cope with 36 hours out on the hills.

This race has been run for years (this is my 13th) and this is the first time that it has come to this. Competitors may be 'stranded' but they should have all the equipment they need to sit it out until tomorrow. Please don't make the mistake of sensationalising this - it's just another year at the OMM for us.
Adrian Hall, Ilkley

My daughter is in the area with a school party, they sensibly cut short their hill walk because of the weather and returned to their accommodation. Having listened to someone involved with the marathon speaking about the experience of the participants and how they would be able to cope with the conditions I am appalled that not once did he mention the welfare of any rescuers.
Vivienne Thornton, Hull

The organisers of the OMM were fully aware of the weather forecast for the weekend on Thursday and Friday, the forecast turned out to be 100% accurate, why did the organisers let the event go ahead - was it purely a corporate financial decision? The entry fee of 85 multiplied by several hundred is a tidy sum to lose to refunds. Where on earth were the Health & Safety brigade on this occasion - I really hope the runners who have hypothermia all recover quickly, and can all find warm shelter for the night - shame on you OMM organisers !! Think very carefully next year. (My man has managed to call me and is safe - thank god)
Liz, Yorkshire

My brother and I were supposed to be there, just glad we had to call off our participation this year (sitting in the dry with a pizza and beer instead). However, I would say that in previous years this has been an extremely well organised event.
Alastair Tams, Selkirk, Scotland

My brother and I were taking part today and retired due to an injury about an hour in. The conditions at the start were fine but deteriorated very quickly indeed. We were lucky to get help in getting out of the parking field and reading this at home is a little surreal.

The organisers are very experienced and I'm sure the rate at which the water levels have risen will have taken them completely by surprise. It was our first time in the event but we were fully aware of what is expected of the competitors which includes knowing when to give in and retreat.
Dan, Doncaster

Conditions for the past few days in Cumbria have been atrocious. We were however aware that today was going to be particularly bad with 2.5 inches of rain and gale to severe gale force winds on the tops. As it turned out the rain has been worse than expected and in Borrowdale (the wettest place in the country), the amount could easily be double that.

The organisers of this event were asked by Mark Weir of Honister Mine to cancel the event as he had also cancelled a major event on Thursday due to flooding and winds which were literally blowing flood water back upstream. The organisers of the OMM decided in their wisdom to go ahead with the marathon when many people familiar with severe weather in the Lakes would have stayed at home and it appears advised them to do the same. Several rescues were needed on Thursday through severe flooding in the area.

I fear for serious casualties from this event as there may still be believably 'hardy' folk out on the fells camping in atrocious conditions and maybe not fully prepared now darkness has fallen. I hope I'm wrong.
Tim, Cumbria


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