Report from Susan Forbes on her 3rd Cape Wrath Challenge holiday week

Monday. Loch Eriboll Half, a really challenging road route. Everyone met at Durness village hall for the briefing before filling mini busses to be taken to the start. No wind, light cloud cover and sunshine made this a very warm run. The heat seemed to radiate back off the road even though it was only 11am. A small field of runners saw me at the back on the first downhill, where I stayed. Between admiring the scenery, dodging camper vans, cars, and motor bikes who seemed to think the NC500 is a racetrack, I soon lost sight of the runners in front of me. The rises get bigger from about 9 miles, when it also seemed to be the hottest. Coming up one rise to a beautiful view over Ceanabeane beach, and seeing people on a zip wire, the last downhill, a few more houses dotted along the road and only a mile or so to go. A difficult run due to the unexpected heat. The last mile seemed the longest but I did it! Came in last in a time of 2.50 minutes. A massive thankyou to the race director and his amazing team of helpers for waiting for me.

Tuesday. Two Lochs Trail. 4.8 miles, mostly trail apart from the bit at the start from the community centre to the trail and the last bit back on the road to the finish. The day was totally different to yesterday, bit of a breeze and a light sprinkle of rain at the start. The small field of runners, spread out quickly with Jane -a triathlete V70 and I deciding to run together. The trail twisted and turned up and round two Lochs, the hills in the background shrouded in mist, which was getting too heavy to stay in the sky. The marshals were fantastic, lots of encouragement and making sure we didn’t take the wrong route. Lovely mix of rocky trail, light bog and grassy hillocks. The finish on the road was a tough uphill sting but a lovely run overall. Time 1.05 & I wasn’t last!

Wednesday. Round Durness 6m multi terrain. Totally different weather today with the sun playfully popping out from the clouds. A wonderful mix of tracks through heather, bits of road and skirting the edge of Balnakeil Craft Village with a glimpse of the beach & the most amazingly distracting views to help the miles go by. Sheep and lambs didn’t seem bothered by us all invading their space and sometimes watched with an expression that could only be… what are they up to? Although it was undulating, until the last mean tarmac hill in Durness, it was lots of fun talking to Naomi from Edinburgh Run Network. There were times I was a bit warm but just as it was getting too much I’d crest a hill and get the welcome chill breeze to keep me going. Has to be my favourite run of the week. A time of 1.17 & not last!

Thursday. Easy 2.3m run, hot day, along Balnakeil Beach, through the dunes and back with a touch of fun- lots of great costumes and local school children. All we had to do was wait for the tide to go out far enough then enjoy the route and the sights around. Finished in 29mins with a dip in the sea! A rest tomorrow before Marathon marshall duties on Saturday!

Saturday! Last day of the challenge marshalling the Cape Wrath Marathon. A very early start which didn’t go quite to plan as the tide was too low to get the ferry at 5.45. When I say ferry, think xl metal bath tub with a few seats and tiny motor, holds 12 people. Once on Cape Side it was a minibus up the first steep hill to our MOD Veddette for a water stop at 2m/20m with Maddie also from ERN & Alan from Mountain Rescue with views over the Kyle to the Atlantic. The route (I did it last year) is a dilapidated and broken road 11 miles to the light house, one lap round it and return to ferry. The time is taken and stopped until on the other side and set off on the last 4 road miles back to the community centre and the finish. Stunning views of the turquoise water and golden sands along the coast, barren and inhospitable moors. Loved it! Back on bus & ferry after 6 hrs for soup & sarnies. Socials included indoor bowls, yoga, Gaelic music, pasta night, spinning wool, sunset beach fires. I didn’t do the Celidh!