News - Wed 27th Jul 2016 - Course Planner's Insights 2016 - Marmot 24

Course Planner's Insights 2016

27th Jul 2016


Marmot24™ Race Director Shane Ohly (left) with Course Planner Gary Tompsett (right). © Ian Corless

Marmot24™ Course planner, Gary Tompsett, has put together a series of useful and interesting briefing notes for competitors ahead of the 3rd event at the beginning of August.


1.    The map is the best representation of the terrain that We and Harveys Maps can practically portray (using 1:25 000 mapping reduced to 1:30 000, and with enhanced contrast and saturated colours – we have a draft and it looks great!) We have also referenced some latest aerial survey, and completed extensive ground proofing. It is possible that on open ground some smaller tracks have not been mapped, and some smaller (lower) fences will not be represented.

2.    Irrespective of any potential ground detail omissions, the topography (the contour lines) will be correct and unchanged. 

3.    The checkpoints matrix and points values have been deliberated for some time. This is first revealed when you receive the map. Is it clearable you may ask? Well, you may THINK. If you DO ask, we won’t answer! :-).

4.    For those unfamiliar with Scottish lands: a. Not many paths are marked/sign-posted, b. Spotting and using small paths can be very efficient in otherwise rough ground. c. Taking route-choices through forest rides / fire-breaks (represented thoroughly on 1:25 000 mapping) can prove difficult where there transpires to be fallen trees. The planner has proven that the most obvious choices work, some at night.

5.    Out of Bounds areas are clearly marked. Within some of these it is deliberate to also show main rivers and some roads as OOB. Always for a good reason.

6.    Most areas of OOB usually relate to walled or fenced livestock ‘in-fields’ and at lower altitudes. We want to keep you ‘on the hill’ for the best wilderness experience! There are numerous corridors and crossing points evident between the OOB areas.

7.    OOB areas are not always drawn on top of the wall/fence. This is to enable you to see the map detail more easily. We are inferring though, that beyond these boundaries is OOB – i.e. not allowed and no need to cross these boundaries. Crossing would be of no advantage.


An exert of the Marmot24™ 2016 map showing an Out of Bounds area (shaded red) and crossing point along a fence.

Phone Reception

8.    The Event Centre has poor phone reception. The event area frequently has no mobile phone reception, but this can improve at higher altitudes and even improve to 3G (Vodafone) when on the hills near Selkirk. Please consult network provider coverage mapping online if you require to know more.

Villages and Residents

9.    The pathways through the village adjacent to us – Yarrow – pass near to houses, and particularly for returning 12-hour event runners, we ask that you are careful and quiet (voice and gate closing) and to avoid shining torches into windows. 

10.    In the a few parts of the event, there are small hamlets and many farms. The 24-hour runners will be in these areas during the night. Feel free to take routes through the villages (there are no mapped Out of Bounds here) but please follow the requests of point 10. above – we don’t want to set the villages dogs barking!


11.    Vegetation Report: The vegetation here is fairly high. Bracken and Heather is reaching its full height. Tussocks exist in places. Avoid soft and delicate deep mosses. Peat hags are rare. Vegetation protection: Consider full length leggings and/or long socks/gaiters if you want to protect your lower legs - heather will rough-up textiles and lower legs / ankles.

Ground Conditions

12.    Underfoot report: There has been a dry-ish summer until recently. But expect wet ground.

13.    Rivers: The two main Rivers in this area are significantly large enough for us to have planned these as OOB for crossing. The map will demonstrate this. Road and Foot Bridges are especially symbolised to assist route planning. 

14.    Water for Drinking: Almost all hill water at higher altitudes should be considered drinkable, but avoid water near and below livestock enclosures and cattle feed areas – where there is always more cattle excrement.


Above: Competitors will be sharing the hills with the locals. Respect them please! © Tom Hecht


15.    MOST IMPORTANT. Livestock: The cattle and sheep for most of this event area are not used to seeing runners, especially at night – with torches. Many cows are in very large upland fields, which should help. Accordingly, we ask that you do not cause any livestock to run or to find yourself between young cows and the parent herd. Cattle can injure themselves when running or vaulting fences – which is reasonably likely if the herd are stressed enough to run near fences. Try to stay clear, plan-ahead, slow down, and move in an arc around them. Be cautious – cattle are unpredictable. If you can stay upwind and the cattle can smell you, this settles their curiosity more readily. There MUST be heightened awareness to cattle in this area, as some cattle herds are still calving – mother will go to a quiet place isolated from the herd. Please inform us ASAP of any incidents that might have caused an animal welfare issue.

16.    Sheep: Do not cause them to run under stress. They can become injured and stuck in bogs when forced to run recklessly.

17.    Midges: There will likely be midges.

18.    Ticks: The planner has seen a few deer and ticks. Plan ahead for this. Consider leggings and regular inspection, especially immediately post-event. If you experience any symptoms that suggest Lyme’s Disease then go to your GP and describe your recent activity in the countryside.

19.    Adders: The planner has seen evidence of none.

20.    Grouse and other ground nesting birds: There are very few Grouse areas. There are some pheasant pens – normally in woodland. Stay away from this so as to avoid disturbance. With other ground nesting birds – be aware that if you see a bird fly up from the ground, then this may indicate the nest. Avoid this spot – their nests are hidden and often woven into a clump of tussock grass, accessed through a small opening.

Fences, Walls, Gates and Huts

21.    Fences: Most of these are easily climbed. Avoid climbing fences that are high and barbed. Seek gates and better crossing points, mapped or otherwise. Our event map has symbolisation for both mandatory and advisory crossing points.

22.    Walls: Do NOT climb walls. Seek gates and better crossing points, mapped or otherwise.

23.    Gates: Seek these out and CLOSE after use. Be aware that if you leave a gate open for following runners, they may not realise that it had at first been closed. This is THE most common reason for gate closure problems in the countryside.

24.    Huts: There are many unlocked small huts – most of which are mapped with a small building black rectangle – and generally located inside walled sheep fields. We are probably not supposed to use these, and you will unlikely ever need. But they are there…

25.    Damage to any of the above: If you cause damage, attempt a repair, note the location, and please tell us when you finish. It won’t be a wall that you’ve damaged, because you WILL NOT be climbing these!


26.    Cattle: As mentioned above.

27.    River Crossings: As mentioned above. There should be no hazardous river crossings as the crossing the two main rivers of the Yarrow and Ettrick is not allowable in this event.

28.    Cyclists: In general, there are many cyclists on these roads. They might be silent. Be planned and aware of your position in the road, and be cautious and courteous to cyclists.

29.    Sunday Caution Cycling Sportive Event: There will be some specific roads to be careful of greatly increased cycle traffic for certain hours. We will give detailed advice at Registration. You will need to be especially careful where you and cyclists might be descending a minor road.


Above: An electric fence (note black plastic on the top wire) and electric wire across gate (note blue plastic handle for opening gate). © Gary Tompsett


Above: Another electric fence example. Look out for the black plastic protectors, which are the give away! © Gary Tompsett

30.    Electric fences are reasonably frequent in this area. Some are not powered up however. The indicators are usually a top tension wire that is insulated from the wooden fence posts. That at gates and fence junctions, there are more insulation components, including hand-held grab-handles, for removing and replacing as you step through. The electric is not harmful. Merely uncomfortable and shocking! There is probably a greater hazard in falling from these fences when climbing. Find a good place to cross.

Hope that’s all useful. Have a fascinating time out there!

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