This evening we’re left with the unenviable task of following the amazing blog written yesterday by Sonny Peart. Sonny is now over at Camp Two at Kinloch Hourn, ready to be one of the speakers we’ve scheduled to entertain and inform the runners. Tonight, we’re afraid you’ll have to settle for our take on the day’s events, but hopefully Sonny will be back to help round up the event when it ends.
Last night the temperature was mild and the sky crystal clear. A number of runners lingered late on the beach to take in the stars over the high tops all around on the horizon. A far cry from this time in October when they were emerging from their tents having passed a restless night being lashed by wind and rain, the runners started this morning with breakfast under a stunning sunrise. The favourable conditions seemed to settle pre-race nerves and the assembled athletes gathered at the start line under an atmosphere flavoured more with excitement than anxiety. A cheer went up as they took their first steps onto the course.
Stage One begins with a loop of 14miles around the area north-west of Inverie. A long slow uphill drag on a narrow single lane used by the few vehicles that connect the scattered houses that hide among the inlets, turns to a winding loch-side path as they turn northeast. Here they were afforded incredible views of the Isle of Skye, though they’ll have had to take care about looking up to absorb the spectacle as the conditions underfoot there range from waterlogged and boggy, to technical and rocky. Large birds of prey hung over the small beaches along the way and seals were seen playing in the water. After a turn south-east back to Inverie, the runners saw face to face the growing woodland being planted and maintained by our friends at the Knoydart Forest Trust.
Once back at Inverie, around the halfway point of the stage, the runners struck out for Kinloch Hourn. From here they tackle a long, slow, grinding climb through the hills which formed the stunning backdrop behind Base Camp, before they drop to Barisdale and once again find themselves at Loch-level.
If they’ve taken in the elevation profiles in the race pack we sent them, they could be forgiven for thinking that the final stretch is the easiest, a gently undulating dash to the finish. This is emphatically not the case. On the ground, those gentle undulations reveal themselves to be sharp technical climbs with deep boggy ground between. It’s a strength and morale-sapping experience that was the cause of a lot of colourful language back in October. Conditions have been drier of late but there will have been nothing ‘easy’ about that final leg today.
At the time of writing, all bar 4 of the runners have reached the finish line and are resting and refuelling at camp. There is no signal at Kinloch Hourn and we are able to contact our team there only with short messages sent via our GPS tracking system, but they have let us know that all runners at camp are safe and well, and in good spirits. We’ll learn more about their experiences across the day as the race unfolds.
They’ll need their rest tonight. Tomorrow’s stage is similar in distance but has nearly double the elevation. Those still pushing to reach camp will find things particularly difficult in the morning as they have the least time to rest and recuperate. That stage will begin at 07:30 (UK Time), allowing a little extra time to tackle those climbs.
The first runner over the line today was Tomas Rybar who led from almost the first step and wore a massive grin throughout. Shortly after him came Andy Quicke and Tommy While who crossed the line together.
Within 20 minutes of the winners came the first woman, Liss Johansen. Liss finished an hour ahead of her closest rivals, Petr Latka and Iva Baronova who also crossed together.
N.B. – We’ve just been informed by one of the residents that there’s a good chance the runners will get to see the northern lights tonight from Kinloch Hourne, a message we’ve relayed over via the trackers. The incredible conditions here continue.
Goodnight from Knoydart.
Stage One Results: