News - Sun 20th May 2018 - Day 1: Runners Keen To Get Started - Cape Wrath Ultra

Day 1: Runners Keen To Get Started

20th May 2018

Nervous anticipation turned to smiles and enthusiasm for almost all of the runners as they set out – and completed – day one of the Cape Wrath Ultra 2018.


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Day One start: Smiles all round! ©Jimmy Hyland


After many months of preparation and training, the 177 participants of the Cape Wrath Ultra 2018 were finally on their way on the first day of the race. The weather was overcast but dry to start with, then gave way to drizzle and rain. Temperatures remained warm.



A two-hour procession of runners set out from the Nevis Centre in Fort William and walked through the centre of the town to reach a passenger boat on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe. In groups of 50, the boat transported the runners the short breadth of the loch before another walk along the western shore to the start point at Treslaig.


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The ferry across to the start from Fort William to Treslaig ©Jimmy Hyland


A bagpiper offered a Scottish welcome to the runners on the shoreside and locals manned the village hall supplying coffee, tea and biscuits to participants. “A lovely second breakfast,” said one runner. “It was a charming way to support our runners,” said Gary Tompsett, the race course planner.


The piper also joined in the send-off as everyone counted down from 10 to one. And then they were off…


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Davy the piper heralds the start of the race ©Jimmy Hyland


A 'gentle' start to Scotland’s expedition race

Start and finish: Fort William to Glenfinnan

Distance: 37km (23 miles)

Total ascent: 500m

  • Singletrack (ST) = 16%
  • Double Track (DT) = 51%
  • Road/tarmac (RT) = 33%



As the volunteer crew collapsed the starting gantry and packed up the Ourea Events banners, the runners headed off on the first section of today’s route. It was a fairly fast start for many with tarmac under foot and fresh legs.


Before the start various runners offered their thoughts on Day 1:


Ed Walker (181), of Bath, England, who was sporting kinesiology tape on the front of his calf, said: “The tape is for tendonitis but today is pretty flat I think so it will be okay. I will be taking it easy.” (He finished in 4:39:54)


Alan Li (105), of London (originally from Hong Kong), was also nursing an injury. He said: “I had a torn calf and I haven’t been running for a while so today will be a tester. I am glad it is the easiest day. I hope to be running the rust off and trusting that my recent recovery procedures will have paid off.” (He finished in 3:33:01.)


Four Belgiums, who had travelled to Scotland in pairs and met at the event, were very upbeat. Thomas Van Roost (174), Johan Hollants (78), Giovanni Bryssinckx (23) and Davy Jordens (87) all saw the first day as “a warm up”.


Friends Thomas: 3:40:54 and Johan 3:40:52 finished together, while Giovanni arrived at the overnight camp in 3:25:18 and his friend Davy finished in 5:35:10.


Lorraine Lawson (100) was thrilled to be in Scotland and reported she was very much looking forward to the race experience. Lorraine, who has travelled from Australia, will celebrate her 50th birthday this week. She said: “This trip is my birthday treat to myself and I can’t wait to get started. It is going to be brilliant. I think today will be achievable although I know I will be slow. That’s fine though.” She finished in 6:02:09.


After the tarmac start the runners headed up on to a Landrover track and then on to a singletrack path that undulated through hills and moorland of Ardgour. Several participants said they stepped into bogs and wet moors.


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The highest point of day one is a mere 380m above sea level ©Jimmy Hyland


The course rose to a high point of about 380m. The winding descents took some runners, especially those from flatter countries such as The Netherlands, by surprise. One Dutch runner said: "The descents were hard; I had to slow down a lot."


The final stretch headed back on to a wider Landrover track and sections of boardwalk as the runners closed in on a final section of road to the campsite at Glenfinnan. The village is famed for the "Harry Potter" viaduct and an iconic monument that honours the fallen Jacobite clansman. 


Read today’s sound bites from runners on the course



Event team jumps into action


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The event team weigh participants' dry bags onto the vans at race start ©Jimmy Hyland



Racing ahead (in cars and vans) to Glenfinnan, the 70-strong team of volunteers and event staff put in a hard few hours of work setting up the camp.


Many large blue tents were erected to provide accommodation for all the participants, while several white marquees provided a place for a dining room, a catering kitchen, medics and admin.


A large area of grass was set aside for the Ortlieb dry bags that are filled with the week’s overnight kit of each runner.


The camp was incredibly well organised and manned and a very cheerful team of volunteers helped, supported and fed runners as they came across the finish line.


Finish times varied from first placed Robert Barnes (7) in 2:38:19 to Jeff Cohen in 6:46:13. The first female was Carol Morgan in 3:10:24.


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Carol Morgan, winner of the 2017 Berghaus Dragon's Back Race® ©Jimmy Hyland


Tammy, volunteering in the catering tent, said: “We will have food on the go from the first runners until about 11pm. There will be a range of things to eat, from chips and soup for the first round and then baked potatoes and cottage pie later on. People can come back for as much as they want throughout the evening.”


Chips were very popular and were covered in a variety of cheese, coleslaw, salt, vinegar, tomato ketchup and brown sauce. “This is exactly what I want just now,” said one participant. “And I have to have salt and vinegar. This will help my recovery.”


Volunteers Owen and Mark are a paired team offering general basecamp assistance. Owen said: “We are doing this and that and we are happy to do anything we are asked. We have been directing people in vehicles and helping to hand out overnight bags to runners. That sort of thing.”


Top three male and female runners


Finishing in the top three places today:

  1. Robert Barnes (7) Britain 2:38:19
  2. Jim Mann (112) Britain 2:40:51
  3. Jamie Ramsay (32) Britain (Gore ambassador) 2:52:50


Top 3 females

  1. Carol Morgan (124) of Ireland 3:10:24
  2. Joanna Zakrzewski of Britain 3:15:16
  3. Edwina Sutton of Britain 3:20:08


Please check back for day-to-day Cape Wrath Ultra 2018 reports on this website. 


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