Entries are now open for what’s billed as ‘probably the most demanding marathon on mainland Britain’.
The Cape Wrath Challenge Marathon (Saturday, 18 May) features 2415 feet of climbing on an extremely exposed route, tucked up in the furthest corner of north-west Scotland.
The accurately measured 26.2-mile course takes runners through some of the country’s most spectacular wilderness, from Capeside all the way to the famous Stevenson lighthouse at Cape Wrath. From there, runners return to Capeside where timing is suspended for the ferry journey back across the Kyle. At Landside (Kyle of Durness) timing is re-started, and the runners head to the finish at Durness Village Hall.
The Marathon can also be done as a team of two runners (with 11 and 15.2-mile stages) or three runners (with 11, 11 and 4.2-mile stages), with each member running independently of the other(s).
But the Marathon is only part of the story of the Cape Wrath Challenge: it’s actually the last fixture in a week (Sunday, 12 May–Saturday, 18 May) packed full of both running and social events.
The first events are the Loch Eriboll Half Marathon and 10K (Monday, 13 May), two road runs around the ‘epic sea loch’.
They’re followed by the Two Lochs Trail Run (Tuesday, 14 May) a 5.5-mile off-road race on established tracks and footpaths, taking in both Loch Caladail and Loch Meadaidh.
Midweek sees the Sandy Robbins Around Durness Run (Wednesday, 15 May), which offers runners a choice of distances (10 miles or 6 miles) as well as stunning views and a mix of terrain – including tracks, grassy paths and some road.
The last weekday event is the John Walker Beach Run (Thursday, 16 May), a fun, family-friendly race whose distance depends on the tides. Based at Balnakeil, the route takes in sand dunes, and, if the tides permit, both the first and second beaches. Fancy dress is encouraged, but not mandatory, at the event, which also doubles as a fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
In addition to the runs, Cape Wrath Challenge week also features a full diary of social events, including a welcome reception (Sunday, 12 May), pasta party, yoga, quiz night and buffet-style awards dinner featuring vast amounts of locally prepared foods to help runners refuel.
Image: Cape Wrath Challenge