Cape Wrath Challenge- 4 races in the week for lone Doncaster AC member Susan

My second Cape Wrath Challenge week. May 2017.  Durness, Sutherland, North West Highlands, Scotland.

I arrived in Balnakeil, Durness on Sunday after a days train travel to Inverness to stay with my old friend Anita (ex fell runner who due to hip replacement no longer runs).

Monday 15th May – I was full of cold so marshalled at the 9 mile mark on Mondays Half round Loch Eribol with Neil -a fisherman from Fife whose 75 yr old triathlon partner Jane runs every race every year!   The Half & 10k was so windy & wet we had to set up the water cups in the back of his van!

Tuesday 16th May – Two Lochs 5 mile trail race 1:04:38. Warm, no wind but muggy. Slippy on the grass & muddy round the loch. Steep hills & sheep!

Wednesday 17th May – Sandy Robbins Around Durness 6 mile trail race 1:16:51. Every sort of weather!  A night out to see Budapest Jazz Cafe on tour in the village hall.

Thursday 18th May – Balnakeil Beach fancy dress fun run, 3 miles, no official times. 30 mins. Rained so hard my tiedye cotton long johns got longer! Wet & soft beach & sand dunes very hard to run on!  Pasta night prepared by the parents from the high school at the village hall & served by the kids

Friday 19th May – sunny rest day but drove for hours to Thurso & back for fish n chips. Late night.

Saturday 20th May – Cape Wrath Marathon, up at 4.50 for a 6 ferry crossing to the start on Capeside. Rough going and soaking wet & cold- 26.2 miles over 2275 feet of ascent… 6:45. My second marathon only a month after my first in London!

It includes a ride in a ferryboat at 6am to the Capeside for the steep start up to Cape Wrath Lighthouse then back down for another ferryboat trip at 22 miles! (time on ferry not included) The last 4 miles is so tough after the sit down on the little boat.
I was supposed to get a lift down to the ferry with John the ferryman but he went without me! I jogged down 2 miles in waterproofs & all my gear to change into for the ferry back. Luckily Lucy the timekeeper gave me a lift on the last bit. Panic over but I was in such a state I took my long sleeve run top off & kept only my vest & showerproof jacket on – big mistake! Within the first Mile I was soaked & so cold I couldn’t get up the steep rough start. By 3 miles a fellow new runner Sian suggested I wrap my silver foil blanket round my body under my zip up to keep warm as she had done.

Took some doing but it helped tho made an awful rustling noise!  Stopped at every water point & talked to all the fab marshalls & Assynt mountain rescue service (& 3 times for a loo stop on the moor) not a soul in sight & hated the cattle grids & track.
Got to the Cape Wrath lighthouse, the furthest inhabited North West UK mainland, to run round the pole & stop for fuel provided by marshalls Lorna & Martin – whisky, homemade tablet, banana & mars bar then another shot of whisky!

Made my way back down to the ferry carefully as the gravel paths were like little torrents. Still misty over the moors. Caught sight of the sea through the fog, then a seal on a sandbank in the Kyle of Durness.

Ran on my own but runners passing me asked if I was ok as I was walking lots.
Once down at the ferry I changed into my warm top & winter run jacket, more whisky & mars bar then a brisk breezy boat ride. Back on mainland my card was marked & I set off determined to finish tho I knew I was the last of 93 runners. Once up the hill to Durness, marshall Pete offered to run the 2 mile loop to the finish at the Hall with me (70 plus experienced Marathoner from Bristol & just had heart surgery 3 weeks ago!)
Got clapped & cheered by the few passers by & the officials at the end. My Garmin & Mobile had died at 25 miles. My little medal proudly around my neck but too tired to take photos!

What a relief to finish but was so late. I had my hot soup, sarnies & cake (provided after every run) then home for a hot bath & lie down before the awards & amazing evening meal & ceilidh at 7.

Rather proud of achieving my own challenge after injuries & a few health scares earlier this year & doing two completely different types of Marathons with basic training. Next year Edinburgh or the Islands? Barra is on my list!