Cape Wrath Ultra

  • UK (GBR)
  • Off-Road Running

Day 1. Runners Enjoy Sunshine, Good Chat and Great Views

Press Release / 02.08.2021See All Event Posts Follow Event
Day 1 at the Cape Wrath Ultra
Day 1 at the Cape Wrath Ultra / © No Limits Photography

The first day of the Cape Wrath Ultra 2021 started with a short boat journey from Fort William to the western shore of Loch Linnhe. With the uplifting sounds of bagpiper Louis McMillan and amid a stunning Highlands landscape, the 86 runners headed off on a 23-mile / 37km run to reach Glenfinnan.

The route today comprised a warm-up on a section of road and then on to paths and tracks as competitors progressed through spectacular Cona Glen, a glacial valley through the Ardgour peninsula. Ardgour means “Height of the Goats”. Most participants welcomed the sunshine, although conditions were hot during the afternoon.

The wisest runners were aiming to take it slowly and steadily.

Looking Forward to Getting Started

First days nerves mingled with excited chatter and smiles from most of the participants as they headed to the start line of the Cape Wrath Ultra 2021 today. 

Jacqueline Toal (no.7), of Northern Ireland, said: “I am nervous and excited; I am not quite sure how I am feeling be honest, but I want to get started.”

Ernest Marais (no.16) is originally from South Africa and now lives in Windsor.  He said: “I am looking forward to getting started with the race today although I do have some worries. I am worried about getting lost, injuries, the midges, small tents, rain, running out of food, drinking dodgy water and more. I am worried about a lot.

“But I am looking forward to seeing the mountains that I have been staring at in photos for so many years. I am also looking forward to being on my own a bit and being out in the glens. Being a teacher, solitude is in short supply so I will enjoy being in remote places on my own.”

Top Day 1 Finishers

Ian Stewart (no.47) is taking part in his second Cape Wrath Ultra. A finisher in 2018, he decided to enter again during lockdown. He said: “I am really looking forward to completing the race again. While I finished in 2018, it wasn’t a comfortable run.  I overcooked it in Torridon on day four and then hobbled my way to the finish.

“That was the start of me doing longer runs. It was survival for me doing Cape Wrath Ultra the first time so this is hopefully going to be more enjoyable. I want to be able to run more of it.” 

Mags McHardy (no.54), from Edinburgh, described day one as being similar to an Olympic diving event. She explained: “It’s the same as the diving, when you’ve got required dives and special dives. Day one of the Cape Wrath Ultra is ‘required’.

“I have just got to get through it, in one piece and with some confidence and feeling good and ready for the days ahead.”

Ian Stewart (no.47) was first to finish at Glenfinnan today. He ran what he called a fairly comfortable 22 miles in 3:04:58.  The founder of Trail Running Scotland said: “It was all very cruisey and sociable to start with today. I was running with a group of about six. I am not really sure how I ended up on my own but I sort of naturally drifted apart as we went through the glen.

“Overall though I felt comfortable and I had an awesome day.”

Second finisher Chris Todd (no.91), of Wiltshire, said: “It was really enjoyable and better than I expected. It’s the first time I have run with people since 2008, which was the last time I did an event. I usually run on my own but it was good to chat to other people.” 

Chris was runner up in the 140-mile Gobi Challenge. He was keen to do the Cape Wrath Ultra because he wanted to do a race in the UK.

He said: “My travel ethics have changed and so this is a more local race because it is in the UK. It is also nice to get away from home and to a place I’d never been before.”

Ritchie Williamson (no.72) was in third place. All three of the fastest runners finished within four minutes of each other. Ritchie said: “I went a bit quicker than I should have done. I was enjoying it and I will probably pay for it, but while it lasts I’ll keep going.”

It is Ritchie’s longest and furthest race to date. Originally form Glasgow and now living in Yorkshire, he said: “I spent my childhood in the north-west Highlands on holidays. I am looking forward to seeing it all again during this race.”

First female and fourth overall on day one was  Sally Fawcett (no.14) in 3:10:07. She said: “It was a good day . I enjoyed it. I was steady on the road and holding it back to start with.

“We ran as a small group earlier on. When I saw the lads pushing on, on the hill I let them go. I thought to myself, ‘I am not playing that game this early on.’ I let them go and kept it steady.”

Lisa  Watson was second female, around five minutes later. She said: “It was really fun, beautiful and enjoyable. It was a great warm up day. We had a really nice chat along the road and then we strung out a bit as we got on to the track in the glen. I stayed in my comfort zone as there  is a long way to go yet.”

Sabrina Verjee (no.19) finished in third place, some 12 minutes after Lisa. She said: “I am realising that this is going to hurt a lot. I am okay but my body is going, ‘Oh you have just done a lot.’ I am happy and satisfied given my situation and if it stops being okay I will happily duck out but it’s still fun.”

Finish Line Smiles and Relief

At the end of day one, Alasdair Meldrum (no.37) looked happy. The 50-year-old from Ayr set a fastest know time on the Ayrshire Coastal Path in 2020. He said: “It was good but warm today. I had slightly sore feet but I took it easy and it was fine.

“I haven’t done any of this route before and I am seeing it as it comes. This race is for my 50th birthday!”

Glenn Christie (no.71), from Darlington, said: “It has been delightful. It has been magnificent. There has been such great weather and good craic on the course and I can’t complain.

“I haven’t done multi-day races before so this is breaking new ground. I am looking forward to the next seven days.”

Tzvetie Erohina  (no.5) said: “It has been good. I really tried not to go out fast and I may have gone a bit fast but it felt comfortable. This is my home terrain because I live in Fort William.”

Jacqueline Toal (no7), from Northern Ireland, had earlier voiced her nerves before starting the race. As she closed in on the finish line on day one, she said: “I am happy enough I think with today. I haven’t done a stage race before although I have done some mountain ultra races. I have actually never been further north than Fort William before. I just want to keep pacing it right.”

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