20th October, 2021
It’s Highland Ultra eve here in Inverie and at the time of typing the runners and race team are gathered around the Village Hall being briefed on what to expect over the coming days. It’s dark here, the wind is whistling in off the Loch and shortly the runners will retire to their cozy tents and find out for certain if they packed a warm enough sleeping bag.
The Race begins tomorrow but the adventure began when these runners left their front doors. We make a point at BTU of racing in places that are uniquely stunning and remote, an ethos that led us to select the isolated peninsula of Knoydart as the home of our first race in the UK. There are only 2 ways to reach Inverie without a helicopter and that’s to take a ferry or to hike more than 15 miles from the closest road. And that’s once you’ve made it into the West Highlands. We have runners here who have travelled 2 or 3 days just to be here.
The ferry crossing itself is stunning. On hearing the word ‘Ferry’, most of the runners, quite understandably, assumed they’d be stepping onto something more commonly seen crossing the English channel, something like a floating multi-story car-park. The ferry here is, in fact, more in the region of a reconditioned fishing boat with the runners gathered on the deck looking out at the mountains, exposed to the sea spray.
There are a lot of familiar faces among the runners. Team members who have worked together on various races across the years, ultra-runners who last saw each other in wild and wonderful locations around the world years ago. After a year and a half of Pandemic disruption and the empty race calendars, there’s a real reunion feel around Race HQ. We’re insanely excited to be back to racing again and to meet friends old and new.
The stage tomorrow is 50km and starts at 8:15 in the morning. They’ll tackle a good 1400m of climb along the way and encounter everything from hard-packed 4×4 trails to ankle-deep mud, all whilst the wind and rain come at them from all angles. Sea otters and some massive birds of prey have been spotted in the area already and early in the day there’s a good chance the runners will get to see some of the area’s population of deer.
We’re working with the Knoydart Forest Trust who are doing incredible work expanding woodland areas and creating places for this area’s incredible indigenous flora and fauna to thrive. Tomorrow the runners will get to see some of the areas were helping to develop in person. You can learn more about the Knoydart Forest Trust and the work we’re supporting here.
Providing updates will be tricky as we will encounter very little mobile signal or wifi out there among the Munros, but we’ll do our best to send you updates and you can follow everyone’s progress live via our GPS tracker on the homepage.
Wish them luck
BTU HQTags: Highland Ultra, HU21, Race Blog, Race Report