Ultra Tour of Arran
Report by Sheena Jackson
Julian and I completed the Ultra Tour of Arran this weekend. This is a 2 day event; day one being just over 28 miles and day two is 32 miles.
Day one was gloriously sunny and clear and we had a fantastic run to the south of the island. There were some tough hills to climb with just over 4,000 feet of ascent. The terrain was mixed with forest trails, a bit of tarmac, rough paths and boggy moorland – not forgetting the Bog of Doom, complete with scary dolls hanging from trees and eerie music… We were treated to some amazing views and the camaraderie was fantastic. Day one, although demanding, is just a gentle introduction for day two…
Day two’s forecast was for 40 mile an hour winds on the tops and a wind chill of minus eight, and it didn’t disappoint! The first climb was tough and I was glad to have my poles as I’d have been knocked off my feet a few times otherwise. The views out across the mountains to the sea were stunning and there were patches of snow still on the top. The descent from the top was hard work over rough, pathless moorland and took its toll on our legs. I took a tumble on the way down but the resulting cuts and bruises looked more dramatic than they actually were and we carried on to pit stop one at the distillery. From here it was a 9 mile trek along the coastline into a strong headwind, clambering over boulders and rocks to pit stop two where the red bull team were waiting.
Then it was up the valley to Goat Fell and another long ascent with a bit of scrambling. We opted for the low route near the top as I didn’t fancy the ridge in the wind (next year I’m definitely not wussing out!!). The views again were stunning from here and we stopped for photos and a chat with fellow Rat Racers. Then it was on down the valley to the beach and onto the sports centre to finish. In total we did just under 5,850 feet of ascent.
The route was brilliantly marked on both days, so no navigation required and it really is an excellent adventure. Rat Race tout these events as challenges rather than races but I think our total time was about 17 hours 20 minutes for the two days and 60ish Miles. Definitely not my fastest running but I’d highly recommend the event for the experience! The only problem was getting stuck on the island after Monday’s ferries were all cancelled but we found a lovely hotel on the beach and just chilled out for an extra day.