Time Out at the Kintail Lodge
The first checkpoint of day 3 was set up at the Kintail Lodge Hotel, and pleasant place to stop while on a tour of the highlands to take in the views out across the sea loch, but for several participants today it was the end of the Cape Wrath Ultra for the day, or in one case completely.
The lodge was the first of two cut-offs today and participants needed to arrive by 12.30 to be allowed to continue. Most made it, but not all.
It’s another glorious day, but perhaps too hot for running. (Not quite what most expected probably!) The trails across from Kinloch Hourn were better than the boggy tramps of previous days but to make progress along the course you had to be on the right trails ... and not everyone was. Two of the higher ranked racers, Peter Fairhurst and Darren Grigas, quickly went astray, and it was to be a costly mistake as they were last to arrive at CP1, well after the cut off.
One group of racers arrived just in time, passed through – then stopped at a cafe 500m down the road! They need to stock up on drinks and take a rest, but had to out of the checkpoint by 12.30. Pavel Paloncy has this problem covered as he arrived at the CP carrying a can of lager he’d bought along the way! Another racer was wandering along the road eating an ice cream and was offered a lift by the wife of Graham Plant. He said he thought he’d miss the cut off but wouldn’t take a lift just in case ... and it turned out he was in plenty of time and he continued. (I think it was Jack Christian.)
Two racers who did arrive in time but decided to stop anyway were Jon Scanlon and Alistair Jacob, who said, “I’d not really anticipated this terrain, and was taken a bit by surprise. With the heat I thought I’d probably not make CP2 in time and that would be much harder to get out from. It’s one of those races you just have a go each day and see how far you get.”
Scanlon had decided this was as far as he was going to get. “I’ve got bad blisters on the soles of my feet,” he said, “and they are not going to improve with days more running through bogs. We don’t have trails like this in Hampshire!” Jacob agreed, “It’s a mix of rock, bog, heather ... then repeat and I’m not used to it and couldn’t get a rhythm to my running.”
Another CP1 retiree was Graham Plant (Australia) who commiserated. “Blisters are so annoying. Such little things but they cause so much pain!” He’d had his own problems, moving slowly and had been vomiting so the medics treated him for dehydration.
The last of all to arrive at the CP were Grigas and Fairhurst, who had somehow gone way off course – over 7km and well up the sides of a mountain, a route they then had to retrace.. “I’ve done orienteering races before,” Fairhurst said, “but there are no features here to navigate by!” The pair had had plenty of time to come to terms with their mistake and were philosophical about the outcome as they will now not be ranked and can’t restart tomorrow.
Fairhurst was not looking forward to camp. “We’ll be asked over and over how made such a cock-up!” he said.