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The challenge of the Cape Wrath Ultra


The Cape Wrath Ultra is an epic expedition race that takes participants on an 8-day journey across the best landscapes Scotland has to offer. The race takes place every year at the end of May, and is organised by Ourea Events, who also organise the famous Skyline Scotland events and the Dragon's Back Race.

We caught up with Eleanor Claringbold, Marketing Assistant at Ourea Events, to get her take on this now iconic race.

On the Cape Wrath Ultra, runners start in Fort Willliam, and journey across the remote Scottish wilderness of Knoydart, Kintail, Torridon and Assynt to the most northwesterly point of the Scottish mainland - the Cape Wrath lighthouse. Participants tackle bog, mountains, and stream crossings on the 400km journey, but are rewarded by some spectacular scenery.

Each day, participants must run between the overnight camps. When they finish their day's journey, they arrive at a 'pop-up' campsite, where participants will get hearty snacks, dinner, and breakfast. This is also an opportunity to catch up with fellow participants, have access to the race medics and, crucially, get a good night's sleep in tented accommodation. All of the overnight baggage is transported between the campsites.

More and more runners are drawn to this epic challenge each year for a variety of reasons. For many, this kind of event provides an escape from everyday life. 2022 finisher, Claire McCann, was drawn to the event during the Covid-19 pandemic. Originally from Scotland, but now living in Ireland, she found herself missing the wild landscape of Scotland. "When I first viewed the Cape Wrath Ultra website I was mesmerised by the scope of the event. A little part of my brain lit up at the possibility of racing across the remotest Scottish Highlands."

For some participants, the Cape Wrath Ultra is an excellent way of seeing the best parts of Scotland all in one go. This was Laura McCauley's reason for signing up. She said, "I really wanted to do the journey. I'd love to go from here to Cape Wrath and I didn't fancy taking 3 weeks to do it, so I thought this would be a good way - an all-inclusive trip."

Others are drawn to the idea of a physical and mental endurance challenge. 2022 finisher, Stuart Taylor, said, "the whole singular reason for coming, was to find where the limit was, and I found it. I managed to push through which is hugely satisfying."

The Cape Wrath Ultra is completely unmarked, and participants have to navigate themselves through the course. This is where HARVEY Maps come in. HARVEY Maps play a crucial role in the Cape Wrath Ultra, producing the beautiful map that details the entire 8-day course for the participants. Every participant receives one of these maps, and they are invaluable in helping participants navigate through the course and tricky terrain.

Course director of Ourea Events, Graham Gristwood, said, "HARVEY Maps have worked with us very closely over a number of years to produce our bespoke race maps. It has always been a collaborative and productive relationship with excellent customer service and a fantastic end result every time."

Chris Beacock, Production Manager at HARVEY Maps, has worked with Graham on the Cape Wrath Ultra for several years. "Producing a map that will stand up to the rigours of the Cape Wrath Ultra is not an easy task but it is one that our cartographers really enjoy. The map is carefully designed so the whole race fits onto one sheet, the detail of the route and the surrounding terrain is clearly shown and we work closely with Ourea Events to ensure the route is shown as accurately as possible. Of course, the map is also printed on waterproof and tearproof material that will last the 8 days in the Scottish wilderness!

We take a great deal of pride in our work, and our aim is for the event map to be both a practical tool during the race, and also a treasured memento of an epic journey which competitors can look back on for years to come."

The Cape Wrath Ultra is a challenge unlike any other. It's an incredibly tough undertaking and demands every bit of resilience and endurance that participants have. However, it is also a hugely rewarding experience. 2022 finisher, Nicole Morgan, said, "The Cape Wrath Ultra is easily the toughest, but by far the best, challenge I have ever embarked on!"

Entries are open for the 2023 event on 21st-28th May. You can find out more on the Cape Wrath Ultra by visiting their website www.capewrathultra.com

You may also be interested in ...
- If you are interested in exploring this route at your own pace, HARVEY publishes 2 maps that cover the trail from Fort William to Cape Wrath. HARVEY Cape Wrath Trail North & South maps





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