Why the Cape Wrath Ultra 2018?

by Jan 16, 2018Cape Wrath Ultra 20180 comments

Written by Claire Maxted

January 16, 2018

From now until the end of May I’ll be sharing my training, preparation and kit tests for the 8-day Cape Wrath Ultra race this May, 250miles (400km) from Fort William to Cape Wrath at the far North Western tip of Scotland.

I will start with WHY ON EARTH AM I DOING THIS???


This is what I look like on a multi-day race. HAPPY!!!!

There are 5 reasons:

1 Sounds like such a fantastic journey across Scotland with likeminded people and a way to see remote parts of it that I would otherwise never make the time to venture into. I even just found a blog post from 3 years ago where I get really excited about the 2016 CWU!

2 I love this style of event where all you have to think about is running, eating, chatting, sleeping, repeating. So relaxing. Like a holiday… ?

3 I’m really proud of the Claire who trained so well for the Coastal Challenge over the winter of 2014/15. I like that person! I would like to be that Claire again. So I will be.

4 I trained really well for 6 marathons in 6 days on the Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica Feb 2015 but skipped Day 4 due to a lurgy, and also I absolutely detested the heat. This is my way of proving to myself that I can complete a multi-day event, but in weather conditions I much prefer! (Cold, rainy, boggy, windy, ahhh. Magic!)

5 Secretly, I’m a very lazy person. I lack motivation for anything apart from eating, yoga, watching comedy and sleeping unless I have a true, fiery passion for a goal. In my working life this was Trail Running magazine, now it is Wild Ginger Films YouTube channel and blog. Fitness-wise it is the Cape Wrath Ultra and I’m very excited and motivated about both the training and the journey.

My approach:

As mentioned, I’m a lazy person. I don’t really love pain, well not pain that stabs you with every footfall, making a run hideous at every step.

I know 8-days running through the mountains will definitely be very challenging and you can’t expect to breeze it, but my aim is to train and prepare so well for this event (with advice from 2016 winner, coach Marcus Scotney) that I enjoy as much of the running and fast-hiking as possible. Let’s see if this is possible!

Why a multi-dayer?:

I like sleep. I like people cooking me food. I like people putting my tent up and ferrying my drop bag to the campsite (luxury!). And I like the time spent at camp taking in the beautiful surroundings and chatting to likeminded runners in our various states of disrepair and exhaustion.

Although I can appreciate the efforts and motivations of others for events like the 268mile non-stop Montane Spine Race along the Pennine Way in January, and I absolutely loved reporting on the incredible runners in 2017, I’m not personally excited by running non-stop races like this myself for 2 reasons.

Firstly, the mental state that lack of sleep puts me in is not enjoyable. It’s definitely doable if I had to move someplace 268miles north to survive, but I don’t enjoy feeling that way. I really badly managed my jet lag coming back from San Francisco last October and I verged on suicidal for a week. It was honestly horrifying.

Secondly, I love the mountain views. I do this kind of race to explore and see parts of the world I might not otherwise go to, so especially in January with a large proportion of the journey in the dark, I’d feel I was missing out on huge chunks.

I’m not into suffer-festing, and for me that’s what a non-stop race like that would be. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone but me. I know that if I had to make a journey like that to survive or to save a life, I could and I would. But until I really have to, I’m not signing up!

Mental strategy:

I’ve recently also become slightly obsessed by nuns after randomly seeing a short programme on YouTube, so I’m watching the BBC’s 4-part series, The Convent. Stay with me, there’s a reason behind this.

Four women are living there for 40 days and 40 nights, mostly in silence, getting up at 5am, praying 7 times a day and talking about a religion . What an endurance challenge! Especially the silence. And the praying. Such respect for those sisters who have actually chosen to live this way. I’d be interested to see if I could bear it.

I think 8 days of living in a convent (in silence, argh!) would be much more difficult for me than the Cape Wrath Ultra, so I am going to think about that when the going gets tough. And probably talk to my GoPro…

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