Day 3: Running Through Kintail to the Straths of Wester Ross
Waking up to sunshine and mostly clear mountain tops in Kinloch Hourn provided a much needed boost to today’s runners in the Cape Wrath Ultra 2018. An amazingly cheerful bunch, even at 6am as they ate breakfast with sleepy eyes, the atmosphere of the race remains impressively high-spirited.
Day 3: Kinloch Hourn to Achnashellach
Distance: 68km (42 miles)
Total ascent: 2,400m (7,874ft)
- XT = 20%
- ST = 56%
- DT = 16%
- RT = 8%
Leaving the edge of the remote wilderness of Knoydart, the runners face what is expected to be the hardest day of the race, although it is not quite the longest (day 6 is 72km). The route also includes the most checkpoints with cut-off times, which can create a heightened level of anxiety for many participants.
Runners enjoy the "runnable" trail on Day 3. Credit: www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk
The route passes through the stunning mountains and glens of Kintail to reach the wide straths (valleys) of Wester Ross. The highest point is met in the first 10km at more than 800m – just below the dramatic Forcan Ridge – although there is another high point in the final section of the day including a muscle-busting ascent to more than 600m. By the time the runners made the descent to day 3's camp at Lair, Achnashellach, they will have faced a huge mix of terrain, including more than 75% of singletrack and pathless routes.
Heading down towards the Glomach Falls. Credit: Jimmy Hyland/JHPvisuals
A very smiley runner out on today's course. Credit: Jimmy Hyland/JHPvisuals
Jumping for joy. Credit: Jimmy Hyland/JHPvisuals
‘What a great start in fabulous scenery’
Many people were hoping for a more “runnable” course today and to start with this proved to be the case. As the participants ran towards CP2 close to the Kintail Lodge Hotel, there were plenty of happy faces and fairly speedy legs.
Smiley, happy runners in Kintail. Credit: www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk
Steve Lee (102), Australia, had a big smile as he said: “This is much better than yesterday, which was very wet. The sun is out and I can take in the fabulous scenery. I am enjoying it so far.”
Gore ambassador Jamie Ramsay (32), originally from Scotland, said: “It is day three and that is always better than day two in my opinion. My injuries even feel better. I am actually feeling really good today.”
Glenn starts the day with a smile and "good legs". Credit: www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk
Glenn Tait is from Edinburgh and racing as number 64. He said: “I am surprised by how well I am running after yesterday, when I didn’t think I would want to run again. The sun is out and the scenery is amazing. I am optimistic.”
Lestyn Lewis (104), Australia, had found today's start a bit tough. He said: “I wasn’t sure how it would go at the start this morning but it seems much more runnable than yesterday, at least so far. It is dry today and I am enjoying being able to see the spectacular scenery.”
Eoghan Meehan (116), of Ireland, also struggled over the first couple of miles. He said: "It took a while for my muscles to loosen off. Yesterday, my left knee hurt and now my right knee hurts. My feet are not good either but I feel better than yesterday and I can see the scenery. Actually, I must remember to look up and around me as I run!"
Matt Smith has been enjoying the rugged trails. Credit: www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk
Matt Smith (157), of Scotland, said: “The scenery lifts your spirits, doesn’t it? My Achilles has been sore, which is a new one for me, but I feel like I am loosening off and starting to settle into the day.”
Katherine remains positive. Credit: www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk
Katherine Welch (184), who is American and lives in Thailand, was in a philosophical mood as she headed towards CP 2. She said: “I feel more tired than I want to and I don’t feel very fast. I am finding that I need to concentrate on the trail ahead a lot more than I expected to.
"But I have to remind myself how far I have come in the last year.” Katherine fell while trail running last year and broke her femur. She added: “I have to remember where I was then and where I am now. I have a lot to smile about.”
For another female runner, Kathleen Fogelberg (56), of America, the day got off to a “fantastic start”. With a wry smile she said: “I have yet to 'embrace' the bogs of Scotland so yesterday was very hard for me, but today is so much better for me. I am happy again.”
Julie was happy to reach CP2 - and head onwards. Credit: www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk
Reaching CP2, Julie Pritchard (142), British, said: "Well, I am still going. There is not much more I can say!"
The campsite this morning. Credit: Jimmy Hyland/JHPvisuals
Checkpoint 2 cut-off – and ‘insertions’
As I sat in the Kintail Lodge Hotel busy with my blog updates a number of race staff and volunteers took advantage of quick sit down, coffee and lunch. They were joined by a short stream of runners, who had not quite made the 12.30 cut-off, or had decided they did not want to continue.
While the cut-offs are strictly adhered to, retiring runners for that day if they do not make it to the CP on time are allowed the option of being “inserted” back into the race at convenient points. Insertions can only be accommodated if logistics allow and there are appropriate places for runner drop-offs, but the organisers do all they can for all runners to let them continue just not competitively.
Graeme Hornsby (80), of England, had made the cut-off at CP2 but he was suffering with sore quads and made the decision to stop for the day. He said: “It is too painful for me to run downhill and I am finding it hard to lift my legs for all the boulders. Yesterday took it out of me.
"I am happy to retire for the day and now I will treat the trip as a running holiday. Hopefully the organisers will allow me to run some sections on different days going forwards.”
Kate seemed very happy to make the most of missing the cut off at CP2. Credit: www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk
Kate Driskell (48), of England, was another day 3 retiree. She said: “I didn’t make the cut-off at CP2 but I am fine about that. The terrain over the last two days has taken it out of me. It has been much harder than I thought it would be, although I have a lot of experience of multi-day running. Last year, I ran from Land's End to John o'Groats. This race is much harder, in my opinion."
She seemed very happy to sit down in the nearby Kintail Lodge Hotel, drink a pint and tuck into a meal of steak and chips. “Lovely,” she said. “I started out tired today and I need to have a break now. I am happy enough and I will decide what to do for the rest of the week later on.”
Later on, Day 3: Find out how the day progressed for the Cape Wrath Ultra 2018 runners, as well as final placings.
Runners make their final descent to the finish after a long day. Credit: Jimmy Hyland/JHPvisuals
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