8 great Scottish ultra running events
Ultra running is on the increase in Scotland with more runners than ever keen to take on the challenge of a race that is more than 30 miles long. To meet demand, there is a growing list of events to challenge and inspire these long-distance athletes.
I wrote about eight of the best Scottish ultra running events in a recent Sunday Mail column. Read the pdf or see the article below.
Go ultra extreme: Top Scottish ultra running races
West Highland Way Race
Distance: 95 miles
Total ascent: 14,000ft
When: June 24, 2017.
The annual West Highland Way Race is one of the world’s longest established ultra marathons. The race, which starts in Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, and finishes in Fort William in the Highlands, first took place in 1985.
Since then it has developed a worldwide reputation as one of the classic ultra-marathon races and attracts runners from across the globe.
The off-road trail race heads through some of the most beautiful countryside. in the southern Highlands and along the shore of Loch Lomond.
Incredibly, the fastest ever time recoded for this race is Rob Sinclair’s amazing WHW Race run this month in a time of 13 hours 411 mins and 8 seconds.
Entry is via a ballot. To register for 2018 see the website.
Great Glen Ultra
Distance: 71 miles
Total ascent: 10,800ft
When: July 8, 2017
Starting from Neptune’s Staircase near Fort William, the route follows a series of glens along one of Scotland’s geological faultlines to Inverness.
The route heads through some of Scotland’s most stunning Highlands scenery with beautiful mountain views and alongside lochs and rivers.
Runners then around 22 hours to cover the 71 miles to the finish line at Inverness Athletics Stadium.
Devil o’ the Highlands Footrace
Distance: 43 miles
Total ascent: 6560ft
When: August 5, 2017
The race follows the West Highland Way trail through the Highlands from Tyndrum to Fort William.
This year’s event will be the 18th, which makes it the second oldest ultra distance running event in Scotland.
Tiree Ultra Marathon
Distance: 35 miles
Total ascent: 738ft
When: September 10, 2017
The Inner Hebdrides island of Tiree measures only 11 miles by six miles and is famed for its white sandy beaches and unspoilt landscape.
The ultra race follows the beautiful and rugged coast of the island to complete a full circumference.
River Ayr Way Ultra
Distance: 40 miles
Total ascent: 1530ft
When: September 16, 2017
The route starts at the source of the River Ayr at Glenbuck and finishes at the sea in the town of Ayr. The terrain is a mix of trails, rural paths and some road sections.
The race can be completed as a solo runner or a relay team and explores a lesser-known long-distance Scottish trail.
Salomon Ben Nevis Ultra
Distance: 68 mikes.
Total ascent: 13,100ft
When: September 16, 2017.
Weaving through remote glens, crossing high mountain passes and embracing the superb wilderness of the Highlands, this is a race for keen ultra-runners.
The route starts from the southern shore of Loch Ness, tops out on the summit of the UK’s tallest mountain of Ben Nevis and finishes at Kinlochleven.
Runners will encounter a mix of runnable tracks, technical single track, the airy ridge of Carn Mor Dearg Arete and some mountain roads.
The race is new for this year and there are still places (as we go to press).
Salomon Glen Coe Skyline
Distance: 34 miles.
Total ascent: 15,600ft
When: September 17, 2017.
The Salomon Glen Coe Skyline combines mountain running and alpinism in a test of speed, endurance and skill on an uncompromising, world-acclaimed course.
The route features long sections of scrambling terrain and high ridge traverses.
It takes in an ascent of Curved Ridge on the iconic Glencoe mountain, the Buachaille Etive Mor, and the infamous Aonach Eagach ridge.
The event is only suitable for highly experienced competitors and all entrants are vetted for experience. To apply for 2018, see the website.
Dunoon Loch Eck Ultra
Distance: 34 miles.
Elevation gain: 4822ft.
When: October 7, 2017.
New for 2016, the ultra marathon returns this year with a solo and a relay option for runners.
The route starts from Benmore Botanical Garden, near Dunoon, on the Cowal Peninsula.
It climbs up the gorgeous gorge path through Puck’s Glen and reaches a high point of almost 2000ft on forest trails.
A descent is followed by an undulating shoreline run along Loch Eck and towards the finish line at Dunoon.
There are plenty more ultra running races in Scotland but I had to pick a few!