Cape Wrath Ultra, Scotland: 400 hard-earned km over eight days

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Photo: ©IanCorless

Near-perfect weather conditions led to a higher-than-predicted finish rate for Scotland’s inaugural Cape Wrath Ultra – a 400 km staged ultramarathon through the rugged Scottish Highlands. Race report by Press Release, photos by Ian Corless.

Marcus Scotney (UK), ran down the track towards the Cape Wrath lighthouse at 11:05 on Sunday 29th May, and was cheered into the finish of the first Cape Wrath Ultra™ by a small group of fellow runners, media, and race staff. Running strongly, he arrived in the lighthouse compound high up on the cliffs and was directed into the tiny yet welcoming Ozone Café to punch in for his finish time (yes, there is a café here! In fact, it is the only reason anyone is here normally as the lighthouse is automated).

Photo ©IanCorless

Photo: ©IanCorless

With the final day being a short day, just 16 cross-country miles, he was not the first to finish, which meant he had a welcome reception from some of those who can best appreciate what he has accomplished. He had run a controlled and measured race from the start to win the inaugural Cape Wrath Ultra™ in an amazing 41 hours 40 minutes. Scotney said, “The Cape Wrath Ultra™ is a truly stunning and amazing route up through the Highlands of Scotland. No two days were the same, and each one offered something different. Day 4 around Beinn Eighe was the most stunning even with the pathless section. I always wanted to run around that mountain“.

He continued, “I discovered how far I could push my body each day, learning what my limits are, and discovering a lot about myself on the run and will definitely want to try more more multi-day runs. I don’t know if any would compare to this, as the Cape Wrath Ultra™ really is unique, totally incomparable.”

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Photo: ©IanCorless

Having staggered the start times earlier that morning, the runners arrived at the Cape over the following hours, including the ladies’ winner Ita Emanuela Marzotto from Italy, who spoke to Rob Howard from SleepMonsters, “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. This race is the hardest thing I’ve done, harder than the 10 day race in Australia or the Marathon Des Sables.”

The event was lucky to hit a purple patch of weather enjoying almost wall to wall blue skies, sunshine and a gentle breeze that kept the dreaded Scottish midges at bay. Shane Ohly, the Event Director said, “The almost perfect weather certainly helped increase the overall finish rate, with 59 out of 95 starters completing the full course, giving a finish rate of 62%, which is about double our pre-event expectations. I am absolutely delighted that so many of the participants were able to experience the full course, because the journey is totally incredible and I am confident the experience will leave a life long impression”.

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Photo: ©IanCorless

The Cape Wrath Ultra™ certainly has left an impression on the competitors and event team who have been unanimous in their praise for the event on social media after the event. Roxane Andersen, who finished 47thexplained, “What an adventure. 400km and 11,200m up and down later, I’m sure I left a bit of my heart somewhere along the Cape Wrath Trail. It’s amazing how quickly the pain disappears, and all that remains of those 8 days are the good memories of amazing places and beautiful people!”