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the mountain marathon book
Mountain Marathons

The Mountain Marathon Book

ISBN 978-1-905444-49-6

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About the Guide

224 page full colour A5 paperback book detailing everything that you wanted to know about the Mountain Marathon but were afraid to ask.

Ever since the very first event was held over the wild moors of Swaledale in 1968 the mountain marathon has grabbed the interest of the outdoor enthusiast. The challenge of two days navigating your way across a mountain environment while carrying everything needed to be self-sufficient is nowadays proving to be more popular than ever and the original Karrimor International Mountain Marathon has been the genesis of a host of similar events both in Britain and around the world.

In this, the first instructional book written for those seeking to face this challenge, the complexities and procedures that control and govern these events are laid open. Everything from the different types of courses and classes of event and how to enter them, through to the equipment required and onto the necessary training both to complete and improve your performance in these gruelling events are included here.

Written by two experienced mountain marathon competitors who are rapidly gaining the reputation for producing the most comprehensive instructional books for those seeking the thrill of fell and mountain running this book is set to become the bible of all those seeking to complete the mountain marathon.


1. Introduction.



2. What is a Mountain Marathon.

3. Who and Why.

4. Navigation.

5. Terrain.

6. Teamwork.

6.1 Choosing your partner.

6.2 Decision making.

6.3 Communication.

6.4 Task sharing.

6.5 Checking each others actions.

6.6 Fatigue.

6.7 Training as a team.

7. Weather.

8. Events.

8.1 What is a mountain marathon.

8.2 Classes.

8.3 Types of event.

8.4 Times of year held.

8.5 List of events.

8.6 Events overseas.

8.7 Ranking of events.

8.8 Rules.

8.9 Required kit.

9. Classes and Courses.

9.1 Classes.

9.2 Choosing the correct class.

9.3 Courses.

10. Entering the Marathon.

11. Glossary.

11.1 Master map.

11.2 Event map.

11.3 Control description list.

11.4 Controls.

11.5 Dibbers.

11.6 Legs.

11.7 Out of bounds.

11.8 Crossing points.


12. Clothing.

12.1 Base layer.

12.2 Mid layer.

12.3 Outer layer.

12.4 Hat.

12.5 Gloves.

12.6 Socks.

12.7 Shoes.

12.8 Final tip.

13. Equipment.

13.1 Rucksack.

13.2 Tent.

13.3 Cooking equipment.

13.4 Sleeping bag.

13.5 Sleeping mat.

13.6 Headtorch.

13.7 Survival bags/blankets.

13.8 Whistle.

13.9 Walking poles.

13.10 Emergency repair kit.

13.11 First aid kit.

14. Personal Equipment.

15. Navigation Equipment.

15.1 Maps.

15.2 Compass.

15.3 Watch.

15.4 Pen.

15.5 Altimeter.

16. Packing Your Rucksack.

16.1 Sharing the load.

16.2 Protecting the contents of your rucksacks.

16.3 Packing order.



17. Food and Calorie Intake.

17.1 Selecting your menu.

17.2 Pre-event.

17.3 During the first day of the event.

17.4 Over-night.

17.5 During the second day of the event.

17.6 Post event and recovery.
18. Hydration.

18.1 Selecting your drinks.

18.2 Pre-event.

18.3 During the first day of the event.

18.4 Over-night.

18.5 During the second day of the event.

18.6 Post event and recovery.

18.7 The effects of insufficient fluids in the body.



19. Training for the Event.

19.1 Training needs.

19.2 Length of training period.

19.3 Planning your training.

19.4 Training patterns.

19.5 Endurance training.

19.6 Uphill training.

19.7 Downhill training.

19.8 Speed training.

19.9 Terrain training.

19.10 Strength training.

19.11 Flexibility training.

19.12 Recovery.

19.13 Night training.

19.14 Navigation training.

20. Training Schedules.

20.1 Team 1. Classes A, Elite and Long Score.

20.2 Team 2. Classes up to B and Medium Score.

20.3 Team 3. Classes up to C and Short Score.

20.4 Sessions.

20.5 Strength sessions.

20.6 Flexibility sessions.

21. The Effects of Running with a Rucksack and Load.

21.1 The effect on your centre of gravity.

21.2 The effect on your stride length.

21.3 The effect on your running speed.

21.4 The effect on your energy consumption.

21.5 The effect on your fluid consumption.

21.6 Training while carrying full equipment.

22. How Many Events Can You Do In A Year.

22.1 Suggested yearly training and event guide.



23. In the Weeks Leading Upto the Event.

23.1 Ensuring that you have all the correct kit.

23.2 Ensuring that your tent is in good condition.

23.3 Ensuring that your cooking equipment is working.

23.4 Ensuring that your torches and batteries are working.

23.5 Deciding to stay overnight before the event or not.

23.6 Tapering down your training.

23.7 Deciding of responsibilities.

24. In the Days/Hours Leading Upto the Event.

24.1 Final event details.

24.2 Taking on fluid and energy.

24.3 Tapering down your training.

24.4 Kit preparation.

24.3 Travelling to the event.

24.4 Registration.

24.5 Staying overnight.

24.6 Preparation checklist.



25. The Start.

25.1 Where do you report to.

25.2 Who do you report to.

25.3 The layout of the starting grids.

25.4 Moving through the starting grids.

25.5 Event maps.

26. Day 1.

26.1 The finish of Day 1.

27. Overnight.

27.1 Selecting a camp spot.

27.2 Preparing a meal.

27.3 Rehydration.

27.4 Results of Day 1.

27.5 Sleep.

27.6 Breakfast.

27.7 Toilets.

27.8 Breaking camp.

28. Day 2.

28.1 The start.

28.2 The day.

28.3 The finish.



29. Travelling Home.

30. Recovery.

30.1 Immediate recovery.

30.2 Short term recovery.

30.3 Long term recovery.

31. Preparing for the Next Event.



32. Medical.

32.1 Known medical conditions.

32.2 Feeling unwell during the marathon.

32.3 Hay fever and other allergies.

33. Injuries.

33.1 Blisters, bruised feet and damaged toenails.

34. Hypothermia.

35. The Effects of Heat.

35.1 Heat exposure.

35.2 Heat cramps.

35.3 Heat exhaustion.

35.4 Heat stroke.

36. Exhaustion.

37. Ticks.

38. Midges

39. Calling for Help.

40. Giving Assistance.

41. Waiting for Help.

42. When Help Comes.

43. Withdrawing from the Event.

44. Erosion and Other Green Issues.

45. Appendices.



About the Authors

The Run Off-Road Series.




The Walks

Customer Reviews

What do our customers think about this guide?

CompassSport. September 2014


The Mountain Marathon Book by Stuart Ferguson and Keven Shevels, Trail Guides Publications, £19.99
Available from  ISBN 978-1-905444-49-6  224 page full colour A5 paperback
This is the first specialised book that I have seen on mountain marathons so I was keen to give it a read and see if it had much to offer keen mountain orienteers.
Reading through the chapters show the excellent coverage this book gives to many aspects of mountain marathons: The Basics; Equipment; Food and Drink; Training; Pre-event Preparation; The Event; After the Event; and Health and Safety.

Those of you who have done mountain marathons by now will by now be thinking that a mountain marathon is the combination of fell running and orienteering so should there not be a significant section on navigation and route selection in the mountains? This lack is explained at the start of chapter 4 “The skills and techniques of navigation … is outside the scope of this book which is aimed predominantly at the more tangible aspects of the mountain marathon”. It then explains that there is a companion book “Navigation for Off Road Runners”. Reading the back cover which states “Everything from the different types of course and classes … are included here”. In fact it also mentions another companion volume of Mountain Marathon Preparation.
Moving on to what is contained rather than what isn’t, I found it very thorough although primarily aimed at novices, teaching them lots of tips which they’d only otherwise pick up after doing a lot of events themselves. The early sections describe the many events around these days, the types of course and the different classes. Readers of this book wouldn’t make the same mistake one pair did the night before one event treating our reply of “E” with contempt as they were doing the “B”.
The section on equipment covers all the items commonly found on the compulsory kit lists and even suggests how you can pack the rucksack. There is a nice picture to describe the latter although unfortunately it contradicts the text with respect to placement of the tent.
The training section is very thorough with training schedules for 3 levels of runner from the lower classes up to Elite. I assume this is aimed at people who are used to downloading training plans for marathons and following them religiously. These plans are progressive, but I felt more emphasis should have been placed on navigation training like evening orienteering events, fell races which require navigational skills and night orienteering in the winter. There are good sections on stretching, strength training and intervals, but the biggest savings to be made in a bad weather mountain marathon are in accurate navigation.
The sections on the final preparation and the event itself are very thorough and give a good idea of what to expect in the major events. Novices in particular will arrive far better prepared having read these chapters in the week before the event, but I’m sure there are tips there for more experienced competitors too.
So, in summary this is a well written book by two experienced mountain marathoners and explains very well the basics of what the sport is about and what is required to compete. It is therefore a great introduction for beginners wanting to know what it is all about. I believe there will also be hints and tips that would benefit experienced orienteers or fell runners who have done a few events and want to train smarter to move up a class or get their pack weights down. To me though the most fundamental skill required for mountain marathon success (the navigation) is missing. Having said that, what is included is good, thorough and very well explained.

(Review by John Kewley MDOC, the first person to win both KIMM (OMM) Long Score & Elite courses.)

Trailguides comments. We wholeheartedly agree with John's views about the importance of navigational ability. For that reason and to do this subject full justice, we do have a full and comprehensive book purely on navigation, Navigation for Off-Road Runners. Both books can be bought together as a bundle.

Trail Running magazine. Spring 2012.

The Mountain Marathon Book by Stuart Ferguson and Keven Shevels has masses of information, includingkit, fuel, training, teamwork and first aid. GIVE IT A READ !!

Rene Borg - Mud, Sweat & Tears. Worldwide Off-Road Running website.


I was lucky enough to recently receive a free copy of the latest offering in the ”Run Off-Road” series by TrailGuides: The Mountain Marathon Book, so let me share my impressions with my fellow mountain runners…

This 224 page tome clearly aims to be the definitive treatise on the topic and I’ll start by ruining the suspense: co-authors Keven Shevels and Stuart Ferguson do a fine job of doing just that. “The Mountain Marathon Book” does more than that and includes excellent advice for anyone contemplating one of the 24-hour challenges (such as the Bob Graham and Wicklow rounds) or any off-road ultra-distance races.

“Simply put, a mountain marathon is a long-distance navigation exercise held over upland and mountainous terrain. Normally held over two days it involves carrying all the equipment and supplies needed to be self-sufficient over the period.” – The Mountain Marathon Book

As the authors point out, mountain marathons are a unique discipline occupying a space somewhere in between fell running, orienteering and ultra-running while having elements of classical outdoor expeditions and thus previous books in the “Run Off-Road” series have covered different angles of the concise information presented here. To their credit TrailGuides have done very well to avoid duplication and produce a book that can both stand alone as well as supplement the earlier publications.

The book is broken into eight main sections and more than forty-five chapters: “The Basics”, “Equipment”, “Food and Drink”, “Training”, “Pre-Event Preparation”, “The Event”, “After the Event” and “Health and Safety” making it easy to hone in on the area of particular interest to you. My own understanding of mountain marathons is fairly basic so I jumped straight into the introduction to the discipline in the first section.

Here you are introduced to the four main obstacles a competitor will face: weather, terrain, teamwork and navigation before moving on to answer what I imagine will be some of the most pertinent questions for first-time mountain marathoners: the events you can choose from (as it proves there are sixteen events on the British and Irish isles), the differences in courses and levels and the rules and kit requirements.

The book utilises photos and graphics extremely well, my favourites being the drawing of how to properly organise and pack your bag and the sketch of typical terrain run. The lengthy “Training” chapter manages to cover all important aspects of training (such as endurance, uphill, strength and flexibility) and delivers specialised training schedules for the event separated into the three levels of experience corresponding to the difficulty classes of the mountain marathon courses: A, B and C.

There are some hefty long runs in store late in the programme but the training rationale is always well explained and the experience of the authors shines through. The schedules are 30 weeks long and are essentially a perfect adaptation of Arthur Lydiard’s training principles to this specialised discipline. Any off-road runner wondering how to adapt the philosophy of the great coach to their sport will find themselves inspired here. I did.

I finished reading with the feeling that very little I needed to know had been left out completely and for the few topics that received shorter shrift, such as navigation, the reader was referred to the excellent sister volumes such as “Navigation for Off-Road Runners”.

The writing style of the TrailGuides authorship always sat well with me: the explanations are clear, the tone one of common-sense, a degree in physiology or years of immersion in the peculiar linguistics of off-road running is not necessary.

So if you are preparing for a mountain marathon or if you always wondered what exactly the effects of running with a heavy backpack are, or how to deal with ticks and midges, then consider investing the RRP of £19.99 in “The Mountain Marathon Book”. I have followed TrailGuides since they published their first “Run Off-Road” book and the small publishing company seems to be improving with every new publication. I will look forward to the next book in the series.

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