Cape Wrath Challenge – Susan Forbes Report

If anyone had told me I’d take part in the Cape Wrath Challenge a year ago I’d have laughed. It’s a unique week of running events held each May in the North West Highlands on the tip of mainland Scotland. Races include a 10K or Half Marathon Road Run round Loch Eriboll, a 10k Two Loch trail run, a 6 or 10 mile Around Durness tough Trail, a fancy dress beach run . . . and the Marathon which takes you to Cape Wrath Lighthouse, the most NW location on Mainland UK. Involves two boat rides across the Kyle and 2,4000 feet of climbing. Alongside is a full programme of social events like a pub quiz, dance practise to live music, buffet and a final night presentation meal and ceilidh. Fantastic week, brilliant location, superb beaches and no midges!

Monday morning’s race- shower, skins & base layers to keep warm, porridge & tea1 for fuel, wellies & waterproofs for after my first 10k as part of The Cape Wrath Challenge -round Loch Eriboll along the NW Highlands coast road past beautiful Ceanabeinne beach uphill back to Durness. Eek!
First race- I might have been last but I ran & smiled the whole way & got Doncaster Athletic Club on the list!
Tuesday morning. Second race of my Cape Wrath Challenge – 5mile Two Lochs Trail – cold & foggy but stunning scenery, rough underfoot, steep & slippery but fun! Stopped to take photos with Martin the Marshall! Not last this time!
Wednesday morning. Third day of my Cape Wrath Challenge -Round Durness 10mile off road, tough terrain, partly same route as Two Lochs then up & over the golf course down to Balnakeil then uphill to stunning views of the coast, but miserable cold wind & rain. A wee dram off the lovely Marshall Lorna near the end got me to the finish! Last again but I was only going to do the 6 mile!

Thursday lunch. Cape Wrath Challenge -10miles of tough terrain yesterday in awful2 weather & boy do I ache today but off for a fun run in fancy dress later! It’s so cold & wet & windy I’m putting every layer on I have with a flowery top & Widow Twanky makeup!
Fourth race of my Cape Wrath Challenge- fancy dress 2 mile beach run on Balnakeil Bay in wet wind- so the only thing that ran was my makeup! My fellow runners looked hilarious & the local schoolkids joined in too.

Friday is a day off – but I went for a long beach walk up & down along the coast. I feel so lucky to be given the opportunity to run the last part of the Cape Wrath Challenge Marathon in the morning as part of a 3 woman team called 50+
Bus down at 10am for 4 miles road race from the Kyle of Durness round the loop to the Finish at the Village Hall whereas the others have to be there for 6am for the bus down to the ferry over to the lighthouse!
Saturday morning. Fifth & last race of my Cape Wrath Challenge Marathon – my bit3 was only the last 4mile but I did it for the 50+ ladies team! Wet & dull this side of the Kyle. Fifth race of my Cape Wrath Challenge – last stretch of Marathon- only 4mile but had a dodgy tummy & was wet & muggy but so pleased I did it.
Next year I’m going capeside for the lighthouse & doing the 11 mile!!
Ideal for my year of being 60!

Sunday was supposed to recover but I went for a long walk around the Kyle Coast to the ferry & back home to the Craft Village but I went of the route & got a bit lost!

Monday was the last day up here before a stop over in Edinburgh -beautiful weather over in Thurso for tea. I’m so pleased to have taken part in every run over 5 days & walked miles on the other days -I’ll be back next year for the Marathon! Any other Pacers welcome -see me for info as it’s accommodation that fills up fast! You won’t get more scenic races & fantastic food & super socials!

Tuesday up early to get the 8am minibus from Balnakeil down to Lairg, then on the 4little train to Inverness then onto Edinburgh for the night.
My eyes hurt from looking at so much stunnng scenery & an overload of sky, sand, sea, mountains, glens & lochs!
Not to mention the fabulous food, fresh air, exercise- both running in the Cape Wrath Challenge Marathon & walking miles & dancing with good music.
But most of all the hospitality of the wonderful folk up here & meeting new people from all over the world. It’s been a blast! Thanks especially to Anita my old friend for putting me up in her old MOD home.
Long bus & train journey after my week doing the Cape Wrath Challenge Marathon, down to a very warm, sunny Edinburgh, had to take a double room in a posh hotel -The Place in York Place near Calton Hill & Leith Walk parallel to Princes Street- off for a run round then shower & dinner out & a longer run down to Leith & the Forth in the morning then onto the Art Galleries. Doing this for my Dad on his birthday, he would have had a twinkle in his eye & a smile on his face if he were here & having a good laugh at me running!!

Worked out I ran over 40 miles!

Back from bonny Scotland & my Cape Wrath Challenge- worked out I ran over 405 miles in a week – mostly tough trails in all sorts of weather & lots of walking too. Only one day out of ten I didn’t get my kit on! Forgot to mention the Village Hall had great hot showers & changing facilities & for a fiver you got a choice of homemade soups & sarnies & freshly baked cakes & scones after every race plus the chance to talk to folk. On the Wednesday afternoon I booked in for a full Chinese body massage with Ron the therapist & musician fir £30- money well spent as the whole event only cost me around £55 plus £150 return train fare & I paid for food. Felt great till I walked up The Mound to Edinburgh Castle & coming down the cobbled hill I hurt my knees! Typical! Feel I’ve missed coaching a lot of the Beginner’s & can’t remember anyone so please do say Hello especially if I’m your mentor as I only got one name? Ps I came back & ran the Time Trial too on the Thursday after coaching Begginers -no stopping me now!

I was a Beginner 18 months ago – look what Pacers can do to you!