Day 5 of the Cape Wrath Ultra was another hot one, with early cloud clearing away to leave clear blue skies as the participants made their way through the Fisherfield Forest to camp beside Loch Broom, just south of Ullapool.
The race has settled into a regular pattern now and it was no surprise that Marcus Scotney set the fastest time of the day, another exceptional time of 4.08.45, for a cross country distance of 27 miles – more than a marathon. As they look at the results in the competitor tent each night there is shaking of heads from other participants as to how this is possible ... and on day 5.
There were a couple of surprises. No one got seriously lost today, which was good, and the race had organised ice creams for the finishers. Also for the first time two runners arrived at the finish ahead of Scotney – only just, and they had started a lot earlier, but they were delighted none-the-less.
Times were also a bit quicker today, and finishers not quite so late, which meant everyone could enjoy a lovely camp set up beside the ancient Loch Broom Church, overlooking the loch. It was a short walk down to the water over soft grass to bathe, and there was even some entrainment as a local farmer on a quad bike was out training half a dozen young sheep dogs. It was a very pleasant camp in the evening sunshine, though down jackets came out promptly when the sun dipped behind the mountains.
A most relaxed campsite atmosphere at day 5 finish - Gary Tompsett, race director, takes time to chat with participants ©Tom Hecht
In the mess tent I was talking to Pavel Paloncy who competes in adventure races and endurance challenges the world over. He was talking about recent trips to China for a multisport race and Tibet for a skyrun, a trip to the Brazilian jungle for the Adventure Racing World champs and the fact he will be back in the UK in weeks time for the Three Peaks Yacht Race, which finishes in Fort William.
He’s well known in the UK as a double winner of The Spine and from taking part in adventure races here and he too is talked about by other racers, mainly as they can’t figure how someone of his size and build can move so fast! (One told me they thought he runs in the way they imagine the Big Friendly Giant would!)
Pavel Paloncy above the final descent into Clachan at the foot of Loch Broom - ©iancorless.com
Although today he had improved his 3rd place position, gaining time on 4th, he still said the wasn’t feeling great and it was too hot – not the best conditions for him. “I expected Scottish rain and mist,” he said, “and would do better then, but it is nice to have the fine weather to see all the scenery.”
He’s not the only adventurer among the participants; another is Luke Robertson who recently became one of the youngest to ski to the South Pole unaccompanied. It’s a remarkable achievement on its own, and more so as he has a heart pacemaker fitted and had to put the trip off for a while to recover from brain surgery.
“One of my main motivations is to show others they can still achieve things, even if they have setbacks and difficulties,” he said. “I’m also running for Marie Curie, a cause close to my heart and on tough days like today it helps to keep me going to think of that obligation.”
Hazel Clyne and Luke Robertson crossing through the wilderness of Fisherfield - ©iancorless.com
He is running with his fiancé Hazel Clyne and both were footsore today and concerned about knee problems. “I hope we can make tomorrow,” Luke said, “but if we can’t we can’t and that’s it.” He was clearly worried about the distance, a huge 45 miles to cover, but the pair are determined to give it their best shot having come this far.
They are hoping to “be a bit more organised” and to be on the start line for 7am for day 6 tomorrow.
Chilling out at overnight camp 5 - ©iancorless.com