That’s a wrap. The runners passed last night on the beach eating delicious food provided by the Knoydart Tea Room and being entertained by an excellent ceilidh band. Conditions remained glorious for the 3rd and final day and the runners all reached the line in jubilant moods.
Congratulations to Tomas Rybar the winner of Highland Ultra 2022. Tomas led from almost the first step and has dominated throughout without ever seeming to reach the point of discomfort. Affable and excited throughout, Tomas has managed the trick of making this exceptionally tough course look easy.
In 2nd place is Andy Quicke who held onto his position despite Tommy While pushing on to take 2nd place on today’s stage. Tommy takes 3rd overall despite his massive effort today.The first woman in was Liss Johansen who has finished 1st on every stage running alongside Frode Lein. From the early stages, Liss looked set to take this win and sealed it with an excellent performance in the blazing sun today.
2nd overall was Iva Baranova who also clung on to her place after a fight-back from her nearest rival. Sall Minchella takes 3rd overall after beating Iva on the final stage.
Sonny Peart, our guest bloggist for this year’s Highland Ultra has written a summation of the event which we think sums up the experience better than we ever could, so we’ll leave you with his words. Scroll to the bottom for the final overall results.
Nobody involved with this year’s Highland Ultra has ever seen anything like it before. In all likelihood they never will again. Three days of dry hot weather on Knoydart in mid-April. Seventy-five runners set off from Inverie on Thursday morning, and spent three days in the rough bounds, covering approximately 125km, with never a drop of rain. There was the occasional gust of wind, and every now and then a cloud could be seen over some distant peak, but otherwise the sky reflected off every body of water an azure blue more associated with the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. At Kinlochhourn, the overnight camp on the first and second nights, once the sun peaked over the eastern end of the valley, lighting up hillsides all down Loch Hourn, chilly night turned to warm day, remaining so until sunset. For the runners, sunscreen was more important than waterproofs. Those of us who ran the course in October hardly recognised it. In my mind, this was the Dryland Ultra.
Of course, every ultramarathon is different, each time it is run, though perhaps the variation is not always as wide as on this occasion. But while weather conditions and underfoot conditions change, somethings are unaltered. Footcare and nutrition are always a paramount consideration for runners. Fatigue is every-present once the race gets underway. And the topology of the landscape changes too slowly in this part of the world to be noticeable within the lifespan of a generation. The hills we ran in October were run again in April. The peaks, cols and saddles remain to be conquered by tired legs. The long climbs and sharp descents must be achieved step by step by every runner who wants to call themselves a Highland Ultra finisher.
Unchanged too is the logistical challenge of staging a race of this length and difficulty in such a remote location, while ultimately keeping runners safe. Taking part in this race from ‘the other side’ so to speak, I got to see a lot more of what the staff and volunteer team do to ensure a seamless, safe experience for every runner. It was a pleasure to play my small part in it. And I’ll be happy to bring my cowbell back to Knoydart in the future.
What also remains constant is the camaraderie of trail and ultrarunners. Yes, there was some sharp racing at the front of the field, with minutes counting as the difference between podium finishes. But there was a collective will for everyone to succeed, whatever their goal for the event. Every runner was cheered and applauded over the finish line each day. Each evening, runners shared their stories of the trail and swapped advice as they patched up their bodies and planned their next day’s run. On the final day, back at the beach at Inverie, they congratulated each other over drinks and freshly cooked pizza. Not one of them will forget their first experience of Knoydart, even if, like me, they return in the future, as a runner or a volunteer.
Douglas Fraser, in his Highland Landscape, writes that:
Here, there is beauty every sense can share
Against the moving backdrop of the sky,
The murmur of the stream, the scented air,
The various enchantments for the eye.
So it has been in Knoydart this week, and so it shall be again. Though perhaps not as dry next time. Or the time after that. You have been warned.
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STAGE THREE RESULTS
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