The Yomp Mountain Challenge
Organised by the Rotary Club of Upper Eden (Sunday June 2nd 2019)
How to define the Yomp?
Is it a Fell Race?
Is it a Trail Race?
Is it a long distance walk?
Yes, yes, yes. . . to all of the above!
‘Yomp’ in the event title comes from the Forces term for a long march over open terrain, and our Yomp was started in recognition of the much harder Yomp made by the British Forces when they marched right across the Falklands to re-take Port Stanley from the Argentinians.
But apart from being shorter, and not in full battle gear, the biggest difference between then and now is that those finishing the Mallerstang Yomp are not shot at, but given a certificate, a hot drink and a bun!
For young people or those building up to the full course, there are shorter options, but let’s look at the long event.
The easiest way to describe the route is to say that it follows the watershed of the Upper Eden Valley, going almost due South from Kirkby Stephen, over Wild Boar Fell at 708m and then Swarth Fell, before dropping down a thousand feet to cross Mallerstang at the parting of the waters where rain to the North flows down the Eden to the Irish Sea, and to the South into the Ure and eventually into the North Sea. Carrying on round the edge of the scarp bounding the East of Mallerstang, topping out at 709m on High Seat summit, the highest point on the Yomp, we are not only on the Mallerstang watershed, but also the spine of England’s watershed, all the way to the mysterious 9 Standards Rigg, (which at 662 metres is the highest point of the Half and Short courses) before heading back down to Kirkby Stephen again.
As you sit with your brew after finishing, clutching your hard-earned certificate, you will have covered 23 miles and 1,300 metres of ascent – the equivalent of around 30 miles on the flat!
Start and finish are of necessity on metalled roads, but nearly 80% of the route is on exposed, open fell. Part of this in on more or less defined tracks, but 50% is pure fell ground. So, the Full Yomp course satisfies the FRA definition as a Fell Race (category A for length but category B for climb per kilometre).
The claim to be considered as a Trail Race is more tenuous. For the Long Course to be considered as a Trail Race it should have at least 70% of the distance on trails. It could be said that there are followable pathways most of the way round, guided by the flags which mark out the route. But the way is high and committing, much more fell than track!
So perhaps we should be content with the description of the Yomp as a long-distance skyline walk or run, with its own distinct character. It does have its roads and tracks, but they are not the main element, which is the open, exposed fell. But unlike other long fell races the course is flagged, which makes the Yomp a great event for runners seeking to make the transition from the road, and onto the hills.
On the day itself, the wide appeal is apparent right from the start. At 8 in the morning the early walkers are lined up and ready to go, with the runners following after 9 o’clock. More join in as participants are individually timed out and back again, walkers over the next hour, runners later. In 2017, race winner Carl Bell recorded a time of 2 hours 36 minutes, beating his own course record of 2 hours 43 minutes set in 2011.
If this is your first off-road race, don’t be daunted. The Yomp is well flagged and marshaled – and if 23 miles is too much, start with the Half Course which, when the height to be climbed is taken into consideration is pretty much the equivalent of a half-marathon on the flat. Or try the Short Course – at 6.5 miles a chance for the younger contingent to show their paces, after a trip up Tailbrigg Hill in a Cumbria Classic Coach, and for the old guard to have a pleasant half-day stroll.
There’s something for everyone. Do come along, you won’t be disappointed!
The Full Yomp
The Full Yomp (23 miles, 4000 ft height gain) starts at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School and heads South out of town and past Wharton Hall, continuing over Wild Boar Fell and on to Swarth Fell before swinging off the tops down to Aisgill Moor. Climbing back from the valley via Hell Gill onto Mallerstang Edge the route passes over High Seat and High Pike and drops down to the Swaledale road near the top of Tailbridge Hill. The final stage is the ascent to the Nine Standards, and then down to Kirkby Stephen. Minimum age for entry is 18 (FRA Rules).
The Half Yomp
The Half Yomp (11.5 miles) provides a less demanding course, but with some rough terrain and the full ascent of Nine Standards it is still more than equivalent to a half-marathon on the flat. It follows the Full Yomp course past Wharton Hall, then by a (new for 2012) fell route to the top of Tailbridge Hill, rejoining the main route to the Nine Standards and then down to Kirkby Stephen. 11.5 miles, 2000’ climb. Minimum age for entry is 11 (FRA Rules).
The Short Yomp
The Short Yomp, starting at Tailbridge Hill (NB After registration at The Grammar School first) covers the same ground as the final section of the two longer routes, including the summit of Nine Standards, providing a great challenge for children of 5 or over walking with their parents or teachers. 6.5 miles, 600’ height gain.
All routes are over fell land, bog and tussock, and the full course rises to 710 metres, and is over 600 metres for long sections. Routes are flagged.
In 2018 all times will be recorded using the Sportident system. You will be guided through the procedure on Yomp Day, but for those new to electronic timing here is a brief description of what it is and how it works:
On registering you will have an electronic ‘card’ in the shape of a ‘dibber’ fastened to your wrist. This will be programmed with your race number. To start, and to record your start time, you will dip your dibber into a recording box. On the way round the course there will be further timing boxes at key checkpoints for you to ‘dib’, and a final one at the finish. Your time will have been recorded by each box. Your dibber will then be removed, and the information in it downloaded into a computer. You will then be handed a printed ‘till roll’ record of your performance, to the nearest second. As runners come in, on-screen listings will show placings for all three courses. Certificates of performance will be printed out from the computer.
Run or walk, Team or Solo
The Yomp is tackled with enthusiasm by hundreds of runners and walkers every year. Some participate on their own and some in teams. Some participate for the simple pleasure of a fine day out in the hills, some with serious intent to win a trophy or set a new record time.
Number of Entrants
The number of entrants is limited to 800. Despite the numbers, the routes never appear crowded due to staggered start times and varying Yomp lengths.
Method of Entry
Please book on-line via Si Entries if you possibly can. This will make life much easier for everyone.
Trophies, Medals and Certificates
All entrants will be timed to the nearest second. Finishers will receive a completion certificate and a medal. There are 20 trophies awarded to individual and team winners in the various categories. Latest finishing time to count for trophies is 4.00pm. The Full Yomp is a FRA registered event, class BL.
Upper Eden Rotary Club
The Yomp Mountain Challenge is organised by the Rotary Club of Upper Eden on behalf of nominated charities.
Builders merchant JT Atkinson have been the principal and ongoing sponsors of the Yomp Mountain Challenge since 2010. The picture shows John Andrew, then President of Upper Eden Rotary Club, receiving the 2010 cheque from Alan Barr, Brach Manager of JT Atkinson in Kirkby Stephen with members of their staff looking on. John expressed his thanks on behalf of the club for the continued and greatly valued support of the Yomp by JT Atkinson.Website
Each year UERC donates the net proceeds of The Yomp to charities. The primary charities supported in 2019 are:
Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw Children’s Hospice
Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw Children’s Hospice care for children, young people and adults from North Cumbria, who have life limiting illnesses. Care is provided in a purpose built setting where a home from home environment creates a relaxing atmosphere for patients and families. They also work in partnership with children and young adults and their families, making their stay as special and enjoyable as possible.Hospice Website Jigsaw Website
We will of course be delighted if you choose to help us to raise money for our chosen charities. In addition, if you participate in the Yomp to raise funds for a different cause, we would very much like to hear from you, so that we can, after the event, publicise just how much money the Yomp has raised, directly and indirectly, and for which charities.Information
If you would like to help advertise the Yomp Mountain Challenge you can download a poster by clicking on the 'Yomp Poster' below.
Local accommodation for visiting Yompers is available in hotels, b&b and caravan/camping sites. See links below.