Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Sunday, 26 October 2008

Tough challenge of mountain race

Lake District marathon runners
Conditions in the Lake District deteriorated quickly

The Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) was founded in 1968 and is recognised as one of the world's toughest tests of endurance and navigational skills.

Over the years races have taken place in mountainous terrains across the UK and in Norway and Switzerland.

Teams of two from all over the world are graded according to their experience and complete two-day courses of varying difficulty.

Strict rules on safety equipment have to be met before entrants are approved.

Organisers say the ethos of the event, which is always held at the end of October, is to be "totally self-reliant in the wilds."

Those taking part have to carry all their own equipment, have no outside support and are not allowed any satellite navigation equipment or mobile phones.

All entrants are given a map detailing the route they must cover depending on their experience.

Entrants are told: "Your first source of help is your partner and if you retire you are responsible for getting yourselves back to base.

"In these days of 24/7 contact and total support this is an event to test and indeed help develop teamwork and self-reliance."

Tent and groundsheet
Food for 36 hours
Cooking stove and fuel
Waterproof clothes
Head torch
First aid equipment

Some famous names that have taken part include mountaineer Alan Hinkes and explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

Dan Beckett and his girlfriend Claire Gordon are doctors in Edinburgh. They have taken part in four mountain marathons.

They decided the conditions on Saturday were too extreme to continue and opted to go home after about two hours on the Lake District fells.

But Mr Beckett, 33, said: "There's no way I wouldn't do it again. Everyone who takes part knows what they are in for and have to be very well prepared."

Organisers warn those taking part that spot checks will be made to ensure all teams have the required safety equipment.

Depending on experience, teams must complete a specified number of miles on each of the two days in the fastest time.

The winning teams receive outdoor clothing and equipment vouchers valued between 60 and 250.

There are seven different race classes, with the longest being the Elite which is two consecutive marathons over two days coupled with a 2,500m ascent.

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