January 2013 will see an interesting new event called Dark Mountains. Held at an undisclosed location in northern England, this takes the classic two-day mountain marathon format and gives it a nocturnal twist. Rather than two days of running with an overnight camp in between, Dark Mountains packs two days worth of running into one long winter night.
This sort of event is usually tough enough even when you can see where you're going, but holding the race at night should add a whole new challenge. Our advice? Beware the moon, and stay off the moors.
This unusual idea is the brainchild of Dragon's Back Race organiser and OMM Elite winner Shane Ohly, who hopes it'll become a regular annual fixture.
'I've always enjoyed the sense of adventure found when running in the mountains at night and the real satisfaction gained from finding your way.'
'Although we only soft launched the event through Facebook earlier in July, we are already taking entries, which makes me confident that there are plenty of other runners who relish dark mountains.'
Like most daytime mountain marathons this is a pairs event, and will be based on the traditional mountain marathon format with Elite, A, B, C and Score classes for competitors to choose from. Usually at a mountain marathon the nature of the terrain dictates the distance of each course with the planners designing a course with a certain winning time. The organisers are sticking with this principle but allowing for the added difficulty of navigating and running at night. Therefore although the winning time for competitors will be similar to a normal mountain marathon, the overall distance will be less.
The event will kick-off on the evening of Saturday 26th January with the longest classes setting off first for dusk-to-dawn racing. The shorter classes will set off later in the evening with the aim of most competitors finishing within an hour or so of each other the following morning. This should make for an exciting finale, says Shane, as everyone converges on the finish as dawn breaks.
Naturally organisers are promising a hearty breakfast and hot drinks for everyone as they finish, and will also be allowing competitors to camp at the Event Centre should they wish to grab some sleep before travelling home.
For more info see the Dark Mountains website.