Torridon Trails and Trials
Day 4 of the Cape Wrath Ultra took the participants into the mighty peaks of Torridon on another fine day, but at times in the morning still with a very cold wind blowing.
From the first pass of the day the view of the peaks of Liathach and Beinn Eighe straight ahead was breathtaking. Aly Wren and Andrew Heaney, who have been running together, stopped to take photos and take in the view despite the bitter wind. “We were so glad to finish yesterday,” Wren said, “and were an hour inside the cut-off, so we started a bit later this morning for the shorter day.” Many others did the same – there was not quite the same early morning rush for breakfast ahead of a 7am start!
Not everyone got to start unfortunately. The oldest competitor in the race, Gene Dykes of the USA was outside the 23.00 course closure time last night and was told that under the rules he could not race today. This brought the non-competitive total to 17 (i.e. those taking the day off or being inserted at the half way point), with 9 participants so far retired.
The second part of the route took participants between Liathach and Beinn Eighe, then right around Beinn Eighe to finish at the village of Kinlochewe. For the most part the paths were good, and for a change dry and they were mostly across bare rock, but there was a section of very rough ground and more difficult navigation on the North side of the mountain.
This took the participants up to the high Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair which is surrounded by horseshoe of cliffs, another very memorable place to visit, and it was after this that the trackless section tested everyone’s navigation. Once again there were a couple of participants whose sense of direction was found faulty.
Stuart Macdonald and John Gittins both made the same mistake and headed due North instead of due due East from Beinn Eighe, and they kept going until they hit the main road some miles away from the finish at Kinlochewe. MacDonald returned to the finish along the road, and Gittins was picked up by one of the race safety staff in a car to get back Kinlochewe so recorded a DNF.
MacDonald, who was in the top 10 overall, had added considerably to his time for day by his mistake and was also awarded an hour penalty. Shane Ohly said, “In this case it was such a big mistake and they went right off the race map which is a safety issue. We do need the participants to be paying more attention to navigation!”
The camp at Kinlochewe is in the sports field beside the Community Hall, which the race is using. So tonight there is no mess or catering tent and everyone is eating inside. It’s been a much easier for the camp and marshal team too.) Well not everyone, this is the first time the race has been in a village overnight, and this one has a hotel and bar, so that’s a popular destination tonight, especially for those struggling a little with the vegetarian race menu. I think the hotel has had a run on burgers!
With the continuing fine weather, the shorter day and the local facilities there is a lively and cheerful mood in camp tonight, it’s a bit like a half time break for the race!
However, the long hard miles will resume in the morning with a crossing of the Fisherfield Forest.
Photo ©Tom Forrest at the Cromasaig B&B, Kinlochewe
Words by Rob Howard @ Sleepmonsters