Close To The Edge
As you might expect the finish line of the Cape Wrath Ultra™ was extraordinary and that bit different.
The Cape Wrath lighthouse stands proudly atop some towering cliffs and overlooks a large sea stack and caves and this iconic place has been the aim of the participants for the past 8 days. Many of the old surrounding ruins are now tumbling down, the lighthouse is automated, and the only resident is the owner of the Ozone Cafe and his dogs.
Team Denmark - Henrik Aniol Hansen, Flemming Madsen, and Mogens Gisselbaek at Cape Wrath ©Rob Howard
For the first few arrivals it was only John, the cafe owner, there to welcome to them as the ferry boat bringing the race staff and media across was delayed! Once it had arrived the marshals got the finish organised for everyone and luckily the rain from the morning never returned so it was another dry and calm day. (It could be very unpleasant in bad weather at Cape Wrath.)
There was quite a crowd of racers gathered out in the sun, most with legs raised high up against the walls. (The two buses shuttled back and forth but it was an hour each way, so took a while and there was a bit of a wait.) Among them was Ita Emanuela Marzotto who told me that yesterday she was close to giving up, very close.
Ita Emanuela Marzotto, absolutely overjoyed to reach the finish line - ©iancorless.com
“Twice I was so close to pressing that emergency button,” she said. “I had no energy, nothing, but I kept thinking of my son Ettoro who was waiting at the finish and that helped. Everybody was so supportive so encouraging that I couldn’t give in to exhaustion even though I fell on the road right at the end.
“When I got in I couldn’t eat and didn’t think I would start this final day, but Ettoro said exactly the right thing, that I should press the button if I felt I really needed to. He knelt down and took off my wet socks – I never thought he would do that, though I’ve done it for him many times. This race is the hardest thing I’ve done, harder than the 10 day race in Australia or the Marathon Des Sables.
Ita Emanuela Marzotto heading through the Beinn Eighe massif on day 4 - ©iancorless.com
“I love the idea of reaching the end of a country – it feels like the top of the world! The most amazing thing for me is the landscapes and the nature. It’s been quite incredible, the way the valleys and lakes combine, it’s all very harmonious, like a piece of classical musical. I can relate to it.”
At the end of our talk she suddenly asked, “Did I win in the end?” She has lead much of the way, but I didn’t know the answer and nor will she until the prize giving tonight.
[She did hold on to her lead to be the first lady finisher.]