Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Mountain Marathon

The absurd media furore over the recent Mountain Marathon event (competitors are meant to endure extreme conditions and to spend the night on the mountain) reminded me of the time I took part in it over twenty years ago.
Two man teams participated and, since the starting time was at some ungodly hour in the morning, my mate and I turned up the night before and camped near the starting line. Some enterprising bloke had set up a makeshift bar in a nearby barn, where flat beer was being sold at inflated prices.
My mate Billy advised that we should have "a couple of pints before turning in to help us sleep". After more than a couple, I dossed down around midnight but Billy stayed on "for a nightcap" which lasted until after two in the morning.
Needless to say, he was in a terrible state the next day, hoying up behind every bush, and we slipped further and further behind in the race. It was all down to somebody splashing milk on to his breakfast, he explained (apparently he is allergic to milk) and nothing whatsoever to do with the eight pints and four whiskies he had consumed the night before.
Anyway, by the time we arrived at the first day's finish line, all the decent flat tent pitches were gone in the valley of the overnight camp site and we had to camp on a slope halfway up the hillside. During the night it hammered down with rain and, in the delirium of my exhausted slumbers, I was vaguely aware of howls and cries of distress from the valley below, but I didn't get up to investigate.
On the following morning, I saw how lucky we had been to have arrived so late.
The latrine trenches had overflowed and washed down into the valley among the tents. It was like a flow of yellow lava and many people had been virtually submerged as they slept!
Rock on, Billy, have as many pints as you like.


Anonymous said...

I agree entirely with your assessment of the media coverage as a furore, I found myself yelling at the Today programme on Radio 4 when they tried to turn the whole thing into the next credit crunch!

Another great anecdote by the way, you should write a book ;o)

Anonymous said...