Checkpoint 2 and Into Knoydart
Day 2 of the Cape Wrath Ultra™ began early as the camp woke up for a breakfast of beans, eggs and porridge. It looked like those queuing for the canteen tent at 6 am were all waving to someone across the field, but in fact they were trying to bat away the midges, which had now put in an unwelcome appearance! The sensible participants had their midge head nets out.
Peter Fairhurst heading up NE out of Glen Finnan ©iancorless.com
The starts are open from 7am to 9am each day and times are allocated to participants based on their previous day's speed (though they can start earlier if they want to). The longer you take one day, the earlier you have to start the next!
There was quite a rush for a 7am start as the participants were keen to get going. They had an early finish yesterday, the midges were out and it had been light for many hours already, plus most don’t want to take any chances with the cut-off times. The leaders started nearer 9am, extra sleep and no breakfast queue for them – the benefits of being quick!
Their first checkpoint of the day (CP2) was set up at a bridge at the end of Loch Arkaig and marshals and medics were positioned here in case anyone wanted help or to withdraw, not that anyone did, though Sherif Hampton was close to the cut-off time. He made it and continued though, so all the participants passed the first checkpoint of the day.
Those I spoke to on the trail were in good spirits, and had every reason to be as the weather has been fine all day so far, with plenty of sunshine but not too hot. In fact, near perfect conditions for running.
“The scenery is totally amazing!” said Aly Wren, “All the cliffs, mountains and waterfalls – stunning!” She was smiling from ear to ear, revelling in the highland mountain scenery.
Gene Dykes said he’d had too close an encounter with a cliff. He took off his hat and waved to me as he paddled through some bog, smiling and saying, “Here I am in Scotland, falling down cliffs!” He was fine and happy, so it must have been more of a trip on the rocky ground I think.
Lillian Deegan of Ireland said, “That was another great descent – really wet again, but great fun.”
Most of those I saw were jogging along as they prepared to enter Glen Dessary and the more difficult country in Knoydart (the latter part of the day is harder), but it was around CP2 that the fast runners caught up, moving at a markedly different speed and racing past the slower competitors.
At this point Pavel Paloncy was tracking Marcus Scotney and Thomas Adams, all 3 still fairly close together. The Czech is tall and stockily built, not the physique you would normally expect of a mountain runner, but he’s fast and relentless, especially over ultra long distances. While the other two picked a way across a small river Paloncy just ploughed through without a pause!
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the day pans out between these 3, how much slower participants will be on the more difficult ground, and if anyone will be caught by the second cut-off point at CP3 at 16.00. (Which is only accessible by boat.)
The participants are aiming for camp 2 at Kinloch Hourn tonight, a magnificent coastal location at the end of the longest dead end road in the UK.
Words by Rob Howard @ Sleepmonsters