News - Thu 28th Jul 2016 - How Hard Can It Be? Trail Running Magazine Extra Content - Cape Wrath Ultra

How Hard Can It Be? Trail Running Magazine Extra Content

28th Jul 2016

trailrunningmag_capewrath

 

To complement the "How hard can it be? Could you run an 8-day epic through wild Scotland" article featuring the Cape Wrath Ultra™ in the latest issue of Trail Running Magazine, we've got some extra content for you to savour featuring Hazel Clyne (joint 58th with Luke) and Iain Prentice (20th). Thanks to Claire Maxted for the questions!

We really rate the article and the other content in the mag, so be sure to subscribe or at least pick up the latest issue in your local stockist! This is the cover you're looking for:

 

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Hazel Clyne

 

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©IanCorless

 

What do you like best about mountain running?

The freedom, the meditative focus required for technical descents and the ever-changing perspective you have of the surrounding landscape. I feel very calm in the mountains – very much aware that they have been around much longer than I have and will be here long after I’ve gone If you don’t respect them, they won’t respect you.

What trail running achievements are you most proud of?

By far the Cape Wrath Ultra! That has taken trail running to another level for me. 

Why do you like multi-day races?

The journey.  I’m not a fast runner, but can keep going, and I like the endurance element of running more than one day. It feels almost like going back in time, to when humans had to cover huge distances on foot through wild and barren regions. It’s also an amazing way to see remote parts of the world you wouldn’t otherwise get to see, which is such a privilege and you also get to eat what you want most of the time!

What’s your dream race win or achievement life goal?

I’m definitely more about the adventure and the journey than the win.  I was very inspired by the ages of some of the competitors, with a 68-year old tearing down hills in front of me. To be still running multi-day ultras at 68 would be a dream in itself!

Why CWU?

A chance to see Scotland at its finest and most remote, take on a real beast of a challenge and run it all with my fiancé, Luke!  We are both raising money for Marie Curie (www.justgiving.com/hazelandluke)

What’s most exciting about doing a 8-day supported race like CWU?

The remoteness of the terrain, meeting people from all over the world, not having to cook (or carry!) your dinner and the physical and mental journey; it’s effectively 8 days of self-discovery.

How did you train for it – weekly training brief overview.

I had a base level of fitness from the Beyond the Ultimate Ice Ultra in February and then did a few hilly runs each week and a bit of strength training.  We didn’t get as much training in as we had hoped…

Any initial concerns or excitement?

A lot of excitement and probably a good bit of naivety in there too, having never run anywhere near the distances or duration we ended up running. We had our first taste of avoiding the checkpoint cut-off on Day 3 (42 mi, 2400m), making it into camp just in time.  This was something (again perhaps naively) we hadn’t really considered as an issue beforehand, but which certainly upped the pressure and also the adrenaline levels for the rest of the race.

Any hairy moments or triumphs over the weather, bogs and river crossings?

The weather was just unreal; deep blue skies, baking hot sun and barely a breath of wind at times. A slightly hairy moment on the furthest day (45 miles), when we’d been running with no shade for almost 10 hours. Even with lashings of factor 50 sunscreen, electrolyte tablets and lots of food, my body began to overheat.  A few stream head-dunkings later and with my waterproof jacket on to keep the sun off my skin, I was back to normal. As a fair Scot, we are not used to such good weather!

How did your body react? Sleep, blisters, chafing etc?

It was incredible how the human body can get through 8 days of running like that. Each evening as we set our alarm for 5am, and each morning as we creaked out of the tent, we thought “how will we get through another day?”, let alone the rest of the week. But with proper body management (stretching, a high intake of protein and raising our legs) each evening and then after warming up in the morning, sure enough we were running again. And loving every second of it.

How important was navigation in addition to fitness and determination?

Navigation played a massive part. It was particularly important to us, as t times we were close to the checkpoint cut-off time and so any significant navigation errors would have seen us out of the race. The navigation certainly kept you focussed! Working as a team definitely helped in this respect too, as we would (politely!) question every decision the other made, even if it was just to play the devil’s advocate with regards to correct navigation.

What was the absolute best view?

At the top of Ben Dreavie, looking out west over all the hills and sea lochs, which were shimmering and sparkling in the bright sunlight was a magical moment

Most dramatic moment? (really big this up, describe it in all it’s gory detail)

Day 3 (45mi, 2400m) – we managed to keep over an hour ahead of the check point cut-off times, until later in the day when our margin slowly started to shrink. We had 10 miles or so to go, including a final climb and technical rocky descent, and the prospect of not making it in time really hung over us.  We ended up forming a group with other runners, and taking it in turns to lead and navigate, everyone pushing each other on and willing each other to make the cut off.  We reached the final summit, exhausted and elated, as the sun had set beyond the surrounding mountains.  After an initial steep descent, the gradient relaxed and adrenaline kicked in: we tore down the hillside as a pack of runners, like deer bounding over springy heather and winding our way through the woods, our eyes just about adjusting to the diminishing light.  All aches and pulsing blisters seemed to subside and we just ran and ran and ran.  After a couple of final river crossings, and now in the dark, we arrived at the camp in time, and were still in the race. It was a huge boost to our confidence.

Fave snacks/food/drinks on the move and at camp and why?

On the move: nakd bars, mini cheddars and frazzles. We mainly ate nakd bars as they vary in flavour, are a good balance of carb, fat and protein and are easy to eat and digest.  Mini cheddars and frazzles provided salt, which was exactly what our bodies craved later in the day, especially on the hottest days, and were a pleasant change from all the sweet snacks.

Camp: hot, salty chips! To be greeted with them after a gruelling day was surreal, and would often push us on during the last few hours of the day.

Listen to music or use of gadgetery - what and why?

I didn’t listen to any music - the sound of birds and streams was inspiration enough! On the gadgetery front, my Garmin watch and the GPS were essential.  I found I enjoyed the day more when I wasn’t checking distance on my watch, but mainly using it for time.  Checking the distance every few hours provided a real boost at knowing how far we’d covered.

Your most essential piece of kit and why?

Poles – they saved my knees on the descents, especially towards the end of the 8 days. As the week progressed, this run became more and more about body management.

What was the camaraderie like?

Very special.  Everyone wanted everyone else to succeed.

Describe CWU in three words

Epic, wild, journey

How does it compare to multi-day races or ultras you have done?

A different level.  Those extra 3 days, compared to a 5-day multi-day I’ve done before, were extremely testing on the body and mind; you really have to play the long game and not push yourself too much early on when you’re feeling strong.  I loved the navigation element of it as well.

Describe CWU as something else

It’s like a giant beast that eats you up for breakfast, or makes the Marathon des Sables look like a beach holiday

If you could go back and do one thing on the race differently what would it have been?

Reviewed the map and elevation profile fully and in more detail the night before.  We did this for Day 3 and beyond, but for Day 2 we didn’t fully know what to expect and the last few climbs of the day really threw us mentally.

How would you have altered your training knowing what you know now?

More training! Definitely 2 or 3 days back-to-back to get really used to running on tired legs.  More practice on blister prevention as well…

What’s next? Apart from a good old sleep! We mean trail run or race-wise.

Next race is slightly different…the Marathon du Medoc in France in September…essentially a fancy dress marathon with wine from local vineyards every mile.  Then next year the London Marathon and Marathon de Sables (better get the heat training in!).

Anything else you’d like to say about this epic race?

Sign up for 2018 :)

 

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Hazel reaches the finish in joint 58th place. Look at that beaming smile! ©Ian Corless

 

Quick fire

Number of toenails lost - 0

Number of toenails black - 0

Number of blisters - 8

Percentage of skin lost to chafing - 0!

Weight of kit carried - Maybe about 4kg with water and snacks at the start of a 15 hour day

Hours of sleep per night - most - 8, least - 4.5 (all sleep very broken!)

The one single piece of kit you couldn’t have done it without - Poles

Number of miles that you truly 100% enjoyed - 248 – loved every second of it

Number of pain-free miles - Hmmm,  considerably less...

What percentage did your feet swell up by? - 0% (we put our legs up for at least 20mins every evening to drain the fluid which saved our feet and legs!)

Total enjoyment factor out of 10? - Absolutely 10

 


 

Iain Prentice

 

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©IanCorless

 

What do you like best about mountain running?

The views, the freedom, the navigation, the sense of where you are

What trail running achievements are you most proud of?

Finishing every event I've started. 3rd in Wenlock Olympian 100 miler in 25hours 30

Why do you like multi-day races?

Better chance to get to know the area and your fellow runners, more opportunity to cover greater distances

What’s your dream race win or achievement life goal?

I don't dream of winning, just completing to the best of my ability. Jungle Ultra would be my ultimate event

Why CWU?

Inspiring route with wonderful opportunity to get out into remote areas of Scotland - the names have captured my imagination for years - Knoydart, Torridon, Assynt - just sound magical

What’s most exciting about doing a 8-day supported race like CWU?

It allows you to run over long distances at reasonable pace carrying just your day pack, rather than just slogging over the mountains carrying all you need for the entire event

How did you train for it – weekly training brief overview.

Background of running many single stage ultra events. Tried for 2 weekly club runs (6 miles each) plus one long run at weekend (20 miles+ when possible). Only managed one weekend with Sat and Sun runs on consecutive days. Tried for one night core stability work, one night stretching and one morning swimming. Often not possible to do this much due to work and family commitments. I think too much is made of the need for excessive training - you do what you can when you can and with a decent background level of fitness your desire can carry you through.

Any initial concerns or excitement?

The unknown - having no idea whether my body could take successive days of long runs

Any hairy moments or triumphs over the weather, bogs and river crossings?

I struggled with the heat especially towards the end of day 2 approaching Kinlochhourn and needed to learn to use the streams better for drinking and cooling off

How did your body react? Sleep, blisters, chafing etc?

Surprisingly well - finishing each day in reasonable time allowed good recovery time at camp especially out in the sunshine. Even after days 2 and 3, my hardest, and after fairly little and disturbed sleep, my body had recovered enough overnight to get up, have a decent breakfast and do it all over again. A few minor blisters were also able to settle overnight after cleaning and fresh air therapy with minimal need for taping. No muscle stiffness like I would usually get after a long single stage run.

How important was navigation in addition to fitness and determination?

Vital, whether by map and compass or GPS or combination of both. I soon learned that I wasn't as good a navigator as I had thought! Fellow competitors were very helpful and we all helped each other out at difficult sections. Most of the track sections were straightforward but the parts without any trail were often tricky.

What was the absolute best view?

So many! At 8.30 on day 2, I hit the top of the pass after Glenfinnan before dropping down to CP1. The sun was sparkling through the clouds around the high peaks above us, and I thought what a wonderful way to see Monday morning, so much better than arriving at work!

But my absolute favourite was near the end of day 7, before approaching Kinlochbervie. We reached a checkpoint just after a bridge and views gave out onto a beautiful sea loch surrounded by gorse in full bloom and backed by the spectacular mountains of Assynt. I have never seen anywhere so beautiful in my life.

Most dramatic moment? (really big this up, describe it in all it’s gory detail)

Not gory but dramatic in its own way - at the end of day 2 I lay collapsed in the camp with borderline heat stroke, trying to cool off, and noticed that one of the lads had a can of coke. This was like gold dust and exactly what my body wanted after a long hot hard day in the mountains. Word was there was a tea room just round the corner, but I had better get there quickly as they were running out of coke quickly! When I arrived, the proprietor and I had a moment of immediate mutual recognition - in my normal life I am a vet from south Shropshire, and Tony the tea room proprietor had been one of my clients for years, I knew and had treated his handsome dog Woodstock for many years, and unbeknown to me he spent half of his year in Kinlochhourn and half in Shropshire! He found me a coke and from that point my lowest point of the week was transformed and I never looked back.

Fave snacks/food/drinks on the move and at camp and why?

Strange one for me this - despite carrying plenty of bars and fruit and nuts, the heat stopped my appetite completely while out on the hill, and over the whole week I managed just one flapjack, a couple of bars of chocolate and a few apricots. I used shotblocks and sports beans in the second half of the week to boost me before climbs, and had small blocks of kendal mint cake to cheer me up when I was really flagging. Favourite drink was fresh cold stream water no question. Once I settled into a rhythm part way through the week, I found that for me a decent breakfast and dinner was enough to sustain me through the day and I suppose that I was running in my fat-burning zone successfully. If the weather had been wet and miserable I would have eaten much better!

 

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©Ian Corless

 

Listen to music or use of gadgetery - what and why?

No music - I like to listen to the birdsong and chat to my fellow runners. Minimal gadgets - I like the simplicity of just running to what you see around you.

Your most essential piece of kit and why?

Camera -to try to record some of the incredible views and memories

What was the camaraderie like?

One of the highlights of the week - in the tent, out on the hill, back at camp - excellent support for all of us from all of us at whatever level/speed including the wonderful organisers and volunteers. Genuine will for everyone to succeed and respect for all that started and sympathy for those that had to retire injured. Great friendships have been made on this Cape Wrath Ultra

Describe CWU in three words

Great big adventure!

How does it compare to multi-day races or ultras you have done?

Have done no other multi-dayers. More intense and deeper involvement the longer the week went on. 

Describe CWU as something else – it’s like a giant beast that eats you up for breakfast, or makes the Marathon des Sables look like a beach holiday

It's like an extreme annual scout camp or an adrenaline-fuelled international student exchange

If you could go back and do one thing on the race differently what would it have been?

Drunk more on day 2! Actually I wouldn't have changed anything because you learn from every event, and now I know I need to work on my navigation and my technical downhills and my nutrition and my temperature control. But I also know that I managed to find a way to make it work and succeed despite these difficulties so it's not so bad!

Seriously I should have volunteered to wear the kilt on the final day but I wasn't an elite runner - I'm a Scot born and bred but brought up in England and would have loved to celebrate my Scottish heritage at that moment

How would you have altered your training knowing what you know now?

I would have learned how to use my GPS Christmas present better! I wouldn't have changed my running training because life's a balance with family and work and long-distance running is self-indulgent even if it is wonderfully addictive!

What’s next? Apart from a good old sleep! We mean trail run or race-wise.

Wenlock Olympian 100 km in July. King Offa's Dyke Race in September - another new event, 185 miles over up to 4 days - looks like I've got the multi-day bug....

Anything else you’d like to say about this epic race?

Epic is an over-used word but describes CWU perfectly. It takes something special to surpass my expectations, which were already high due to the tantalising route through wild remote country. It's a perfect excuse to discover a little-known part of the UK, with some wonderful companions, and experience a week or so that will stay with me for ever.

 

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Iain at the finish, in 20th place no less! ©IanCorless

 

Quick fire

Number of toenails lost0

Number of toenails black 0

Number of blisters - 2 small, 1 moderate, all only started day 6

Percentage of skin lost to chafing 0

Weight of kit carried - Don't know but I wasn't as minimalistic as many, and brought back most of the food with me that I took out that morning!

Hours of sleep per night 4 very deep, 4 lying awake trying to sleep before the cuckoos and ladies tent woke up!

The one single piece of kit you couldn’t have done it without Buff - for soaking in cold stream water and wringing out over my head

Number of miles that you truly 100% enjoyed - First half each day I felt fresh and strong, 3rd quarter I flagged in the heat as faster runners overtook me, 4th quarter my adrenaline kicked in again and I rallied for home. So that makes it 3/4 genuinely enjoyed at the time, 168 miles?

Number of pain-free miles230 or so - I got tendinitis on day 6 like many other runners and the pain came and went with this on the last 2 days, but by that stage nothing was going to stop me

What percentage did your feet swell up by? - Don't know - big comfortable Asics trail shoes had plenty of give in them so I never had any problems with this

Total enjoyment factor out of 10? 11


 

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