Fiona Outdoors logo My independent guide to the best of Scotland outdoors

Launch of new Ochil Ultra race

Written by Fiona

February 10 2017

Spending hours driving between Glasgow and Perth for work gave runner Ben Finch the idea for a new race. His view was the Ochil Hills and he decided they would make the perfect venue for a new Ultra.

After poring over maps and trying a few recce walks and runs, Ben, a business analyst from Auchterarder, discovered it would be possible to complete a route of 50 miles over the Ochils from Stirling University to Perth city.

And so was born the inaugural Ochil Ultra, which is now open for entries for September 30  2017.

Ochil Ultra

The Ochil Ultra joins a fast-growing stable of ultra distance running races and offers the chance to run trails in Stirlingshire and Perthshire. The event offers a choice of two courses, 50 miles and 30 miles. Entrants can race solo or in relay teams of up to five people.

The Long Ochil Ultra starts almost at sea level, includes 8300ft of total ascent and rises to a high point of 1900ft near Madday Moss, close to Tillicoultry

The Short Ochil Ultra, which starts in Glen Devon and also finishes in Perth, has a total climb of 3643ft. The highest point is 1439ft at the top of Borland Glen in Glendevon, Perthshire.

The race will not require navigation and follows paths with waymarking and marshalling.

Views and running in the Ochils

Ben’s idea for the Ochil Ultra

Ben is organising the Ochil Ultra with his dad Ted, who is a former Great Britain orienteer and a runner. The father-and-son team own Keep It Simple Timing, a company that offers electronic timing for races.

They also organise the Strathearn Trail Series in Perth & Kinross and the annual Carmichael Challenge in South Lanarkshire.

Ben told me: “I kept on looking across at the Ochils as I was driving on the motorway. I thought they looked like such a great place for a run. Once I looked into the paths on these hills a bit closer I found out there is actually a series of accessible Core Paths, designated by local councils and Scottish Natural Heritage.

“They are not completely joined up and so I have had to work out some connecting paths for the race, but I was surprised by how much terrain is runnable in these hills.”

 

As well as offering a new race, Ben was keen to showcase the Ochil Hills, which he describes as “surprisingly wild and wonderful”.

The Ochils are situated north of the Forth valley and bordered by the towns of Stirling, Alloa, Kinross, Auchterarder and Perth.

Ben says: “The hill range is in the heart of central Scotland and close to so many urban places yet they are still relatively unknown. I have been running sections of the route for months now and I hardly ever see any other people.

“We want to encourage more people to discover this beautiful hill range and to show runners and walkers you do not need to go far from the towns and cities to enjoy peace and quiet in the country.”

The future of the Ochil Ultra

Ben hopes that the race will lead to the establishment of a Core Path extending the full length of the Ochil Hills. He says: “Our ambition is to work with SNH and the various councils to establish a path right across the hill range.

“It would be great to have a path called the Ochil Trail that people could walk over two or three days or dip into as they fancy for shorter hikes.

“There are enough access point in the hills to make this viable yet people will still feel like they have got away from the normal hustle and bustle of life.”

Ochil Ultra details

The Ochil Ultra is £40 to enter. Relay teams are £70 for two people and various prices for teams of three to five. Organisers will be giving a donation to the local mountain rescue team to thank them for their support.

See www.ochilultra.run and www.facebook.com/ochilultra/

More Like This

Adventure

Review: Salewa Ortles Light Mid PowerTex (PTX) boots

Adventure

Historical landmarks of the Golden Triangle – A journey through time, taste and tranquillity

Adventure

Six new sports you might like to try

Adventure

Cycling on the Black Isle

Adventure

Cycle Aviemore to Inverness

Run

Strategies for making a meaningful impact in life