Cape Wrath Ultra

  • UK (GBR)
  • Off-Road Running

Ian Stewart Triumphs in the Cape Wrath Ultra 2021

Press Release / 09.08.2021See All Event Posts Follow Event
Race winner Ian Stewart
Race winner Ian Stewart / © No Limits Photography

Ian Stewart put an end to unresolved business when he finished first overall in the Cape Wrath Ultra 2021. 

The Aviemore-based runner has led from day one and finished in a total time of 50 hours and 39 minutes at Cape Wrath Lighthouse. 

Today, he ran the fastest time for the 26km course from Kinlochbervie to the most north-westerly point of mainland Britain in 2:54:59.

Ian, originally from Yorkshire, had returned to the event for a second time after a 2018 attempt when he finished but felt that he didn’t do himself justice.

Ian, who is the founder of Trail Running Scotland and coached three of the race finishers, said:  “I am really pleased. It was never about racing anyone else but about just having a good eight days of running. 

“That was my best eight days of running ever.

“Last time, I was broken at the Torridon stage of the race and had to limp to the end. I am very pleased with how the race has gone this time,”

Women Take 2nd and 3rd

Sally Fawcett and Lisa Watson finished in second and third places in 52:56:23 and 53:25:10 respectively.  The friends who are both members of Dark Peak Fell Runners have also held these positions for the whole challenge from Fort William to the most north-westerly point in mainland Britain.

Arriving together again, the women had a final bit of fun when they found the spirit to sprint for the finish. In the end, there was less than half an hour between them overall. Sally was 2 hours 17 mins behind Ian overall.

The first placed female said: “It has been a really good last day and really special on the beach when I ran with Lisa and two other women, Selina and Cath. 

“I also enjoyed running with Sabrina at the start, too. What a great run that was especially as I woke up and I didn’t think I had 16 miles in me.”

She added: “I’ve had a brilliant week. It has been more ‘felly’ than I thought it would be and that has suited me. It’s a proper fell runner’s course, is this. 

“It is the hardest thing I have done. It’s the tiredness that has been compounded day after day throughout the week. Last night, the lactate I had in my legs was like nothing I have ever had before. 

“I never expected to be first lady and second overall. I think it helped that Lisa and I ran together a lot, we  motivated each other.

“We seem to be exactly the same pace and we have had a great time together.” 

Lisa was equally enthusiastic. She said: “I wanted this week to be a holiday and to enjoy it and I have had that. It has been a lot of fun.

“It is a shame my ankle flared up and so I couldn’t keep up anymore with Sally but I have really enjoyed it.”

Last Day Fun Run - I Don't Think So!

If any of the 51 competitive runners – plus eight non-competitive – imagined that they might have an easier day of running on the final 26km of the 400km Cape Wrath Ultra, they were in for a shock.

The course left Kinlochbervie for an undulating section of tarmac road before picking up the path to Sandwood Bay at Blairmore.

At the vast sandy beach the participants faced an energy sapping run along the bay and then headed on to rough and pathless terrain along the north-west coast headland.  The hills went on and on with grass, heather and peat bogs to negotiate. 

Fortunately there were spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, pretty coves and high cliffs to distract the mind. The final 700 metres of ascent brought the total elevation for the eight-days to 11,200 metres. 

Paul Jarvis said: “That was a solid 16 miles and it was hard… but It wouldn’t be the Cape Wrath Ultra if it was an easy last day.”

George Winkley said: “Today was the first time we have been by the sea consistently and it was another tough but beautiful day.”

Mike Brock added: “It feels like we have seen the whole of Scotland in a week. That bit on the beach today completed the set after mountains, fells, glens and rivers.”

Every runner has commented on the fabulous and varied scenery on the Cape Wrath Ultra route. Andrew Richardson summed it up, saying: “The views are fantastic all the way to here. What a great route.”

Top Five Finishers Overall

While the first three places were set from the outset of this year’s Cape Wrath Ultra, there has been more jostling for fourth and fifth positions.

George Winkley, who is aged just 28, had been sitting in fourth position in the middle of the race but a niggling ankle injury had slowed his pace in more recent days.

While he ran a solid 3:23 today to give him fifth place overall with a time of 55:56:35, it was Ritchie Williamson who finally took fourth place overall after running 3:18 today.

George said: “It has been a really tough week and tougher than I expected. I think I would do it again though but this time with more training.” 

Ritchie was thrilled with his time today and an overall placing of fourth in 55:51:02. He said: “I am so glad to finish. I set my target as top 10 so anything above that is brilliant.

“I am so happy. It was so hard. It was the hardest thing I have done but so amazing. I know I will be day-dreaming about this for years.  It has been phenomenal. 

Race Director: It's been a very Special Race

Cape Wrath Ultra race director Shane Ohly gave his thoughts on this year’s event. He said “I think it has been special because we are geared up logistically for 300-plus runners and, while the numbers have been reduced due to the pandemic, we can’t really reduce the support for it when you have a vision of what we want the race to be. 

“As a result, participants this year have had a very special experience and they have been incredibly well supported from the operational side.

“I also think that the coming-out-of-Covid spirit has really shone through and people have needed that time in the hills and the chance to connect back with the outdoors and ultra running community. It has been tangible.” 

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