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Fastest male shares podium with 2 females in Cape Wrath Ultra 2021

Written by Fiona

August 13 2021

Running coach Ian Stewart, of Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands, won the Cape Wrath Ultra 2021, closely followed by two women, Sally Fawcett in second place and Lisa Watson in third position.

The top there runners held their places for the entire eight days of the 400km challenge from Fort William to Cape Wrath.

But rather than it being a race of fierce competition, the trio of accomplished hill runners maintained a friendly rivalry and each said the event was a personal goal.

Ian Stewart led from the start. © No Limits Photography

For Ian, the triumph in a total time of 50 hours and 29 minutes was also an end to unresolved business.

Ian, originally from Yorkshire, had returned to the race for a second time after a 2018 attempt when he finished but felt that he didn’t do himself justice.

Ian, who is the founder of Trail Running Scotland and coached three of the Cape Wrath Ultra 2021 finishers, said: “It was never about racing anyone else but about just having a good eight days of running.

“That was my best eight days of running ever.

“Last time, I was broken at the Torridon stage of the race and had to limp to the end. I am very pleased with how the race has gone this time.”

Sally was first female and second overall. © No Limits Photography
Lisa was second female and third overall. © No Limits Photography
Sabrina Verjee, who recently set a record for a Wainwrights round, was third female. © No Limits Photography

Great running by Sally and Lisa

Sally and Lisa finished in second and third places in 52:56:23 and 53:25:10 respectively. The friends who are both members of Dark Peak Fell Runners also held these positions for the whole challenge.

The two friends, who are members of Dark Peak Fell Runners, ran together on several days of the race.

They enjoyed a fun sprint together for the finish line at Cape Wrath Lighthouse, which is the most north-westerly point on mainland Britain.

Sally was 2 hours 17 mins behind Ian overall. She said: “I didn’t go into the event to race but to enjoy myself. It was great to be able to run with Lisa on some of the days. We really motivated each other and we run at a very well-matched pace.

“I also enjoyed running with Sabrina [Verjee; 3rd place female] at times as well. It has been a brilliant week although it is the hardest thing I’ve done. It’s the tiredness that has been compounded day after day throughout the week and the lactate I’ve had in my legs is like nothing I’ve ever had before.

“I really never expected to be first female and second overall.”

Lisa and Sally sprint to the finish for fun. © No Limits Photography
Selina McCole. © No Limits Photography
Dolf Darnton. . © No Limits Photography
Runners make their way along Sandwood beach. © No Limits Photography

Lisa, who turned 31 during the event, was equally enthusiastic. She said: “I wanted this week to be a holiday and to enjoy it and I have had that. It has been a lot of fun.”

Lisa won the last outing of the Dragon’s Back Race, also organised by Ourea. During the Cape Wrath Ultra she suffered with leg pain over the final few days of the race. She said: “It’s a shame my ankle flared up and so I couldn’t keep up anymore with Sally but I have really enjoyed it.”

A runner does a headstand for fun on Sandwood beach on the last day of the challenge. . © No Limits Photography
© No Limits Photography
© No Limits Photography
© No Limits Photography

Cape Wrath Ultra: The results and emotion

There were 87 competitors on the start line with a 66 males to 21 females. By the end, 60% of the men completed the race, while 57% of females finished. The runners that did not make it were either timed out at checkpoints or the finish line, or decided to retire due to injury.

Emotions were high as the competitors crossed the finish line. Here is a what some of the runners said:

Andrew Richardson said: “I am glad it is done. It has been awesome.” 

Mark Smith said: “I am burst but happy. It has been great.”

Lynsay Hay said: “There were hard days and good days and I had a few falls but overall it was really good and I enjoyed it.” 

Alasdair Moore said: “What a run and what a race. It’s been the best and such a great antidote to the last year and a half. It has given me a chance to spend time on my own and to get in my own head. It has been pretty painful but good; I hated it but I loved it, too.” 

Terry Addison said: “It has been fantastic and the scenery, wow. It has been a pure buzz.”

Colin McFadden said: “I am so, so happy to have finished. It has been the hardest thing I have done by a mile; by 100 miles.”

back at camp celebrations. © No Limits Photography

Kevin Bisset was emotional as he revealed that he had done the Cape Wrath Ultra for his mum. He said: “My dad has dementia and my mum has to look after him 24/7 and so I have done this challenge for my mum. After eight days of hard work, I know it’s over for me, but my mum has to keep going to care for dad. It has been on my mind throughout the race.

“Plus I want to give a big thanks to my girlfriend who religiously massaged my feet every day for two months before the race to keep them soft. I have no blisters at all.

“This is the hardest thing I have done without a shadow of a doubt.”

Alasdair Meldrum said: “It was pretty tough and easily the hardest thing I have done. The back to back days have been hard. The inner chafing has recovered and I don’t seem to have many aches and pains. I feel lucky compared to many others.”

Richard Lander Stow, who carries his daughter’s toy rabbit with him in his rucksack, said: “Ultra bunny is fresh as a daisy. She has kept going and mopped up my tears!

“I feel absolutely broken in every possible way but I am over the moon. In 2018, I had to walk every step of that last day so to be able to run it has been absolutely brilliant.”

Ella Corrick, crying happy tears, said: “I am so happy. It is the hardest thing I have done. I am good at crying happy tears.”

Marco Castelo said: “It has been great. It was the hardest thing I have done. I loved the scenery.”

Sandwood Bay on the final stage of the Cape Wrath Ultra 2021. © No Limits Photography

Mike Brock said: “There have been so many ups and downs. The downs have been so low and the ups have been so high. There is no way you could repeat something like this. It has been so amazing. It has been something else.

“I can’t believe it’s done and I think it will take weeks to sink in and process.”

Richard Hoyland said, joking: “It was the right distance! I think a mile more than I might have exploded!” He added: “It has been epic.” 

Tzvetie Erohina said: “I am a bit broken so I am so pleased to have survived. I have been protecting my shin for days and then my hips hurt as a consequence. It is fair to say it has been the hardest thing I have done and I have done some hard and stupid stuff before.”

Tara Taylor said: “I was ready to give up on day two so I can’t believe I am here. I have got pains where I have never had pains before.”

Jacqueline Toal said: “It has been hard. I have done many other races but it was the hardest. It has been brilliant, too.”

Michael Butler said: “I am relieved. I don’t know… It is complicated isn’t it? Give me about two weeks to work it out. If I hadn’t have done it I would have spent so long regretting it but now I have I can put it to bed and it felt amazing.”

At 65, Lenny Hughes was one of the oldest in the race. He said it was the hardest thing he has done. He added: “It’s harder than the Montane Dragon’s Back Race®. The mountains are longer than the Dragon’s Back, which are shorter and sharper. There are more of the hills but they are over quicker on the Dragon’s Back. Here in Scotland they go on and on. 

“Anyway, I am doing the Dragon’s Back Race again next month.”

Kirsty Oliver said: “I feel really elated but absolutely battered. It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Every single day has something different and gives you a new challenge and a new thing to go into your mind with. It has been so hard.”  

Iain Loader said: “The pain seems to have gone now. I have no idea how the pain has gone but I think it must be the adrenaline. I am very pleased to have finished.

“It has been hard because we had to keep going day after day and I wasn’t sure I could keep going after day five.”

Paul Jarvis said: “There have been the highest highs and the lowest lows… but I am delighted to have finished. I have had all the niggles and complaints you can think of but I am so chuffed to be here. I think I am a bit more in shock than emotional. I am blown away. 

“The scenery across the course has been even more amazing than I could have imagined. It has been phenomenal. The things I have seen and the places I have been to over the course of this race have been phenomenal.”

Cath Bunn said: “It feels good now it’s done but it was the hardest thing I have done. My strategy was just to finish with Selina. We got each other through. It’s strange that only a few hours after finishing I am already thinking the pain was worth it but it really was very tough.

“I just want to say that day seven was by far the hardest. On day seven, Ourea Events created hell. They took the most tortuous aspects of the previous six days and combined them to push competitors to the limits. There was so much vertical ascent and vertical descent and boggy track along lochs that never ended.

“I thought it would never end but eventually it did.”

Selina McCole said: ”It was brutal. Absolutely brutal. It’s for sure the hardest thing I have ever done and each day I didn’t know if I would finish. I am so pleased I made it to the end.”

Cheers… © No Limits Photography
…Then beers. © No Limits Photography
Kirsty Oliver at the finish line. © No Limits Photography

Top 5 finishers

While the first three places were set from the outset of this year’s Cape Wrath Ultra, there has been more jostling for fourth and fifth positions.

George Winkley, who is aged just 28, had been sitting in fourth position in the middle of the race but a niggling ankle injury had slowed his pace in more recent days.

While he ran a solid 3:23 today to give him fifth place overall with a time of 55:56:35, it was Ritchie Williamson who finally took fourth place overall after running 3:18 today.

George said: “It has been a really tough week and tougher than I expected. I think I would do it again though but this time with more training.”

Ritchie was thrilled with his time today and an overall placing of fourth in 55:51:02. He said: “I am so glad to finish. I set my target as top 10 so anything above that is brilliant.

“I am so happy. It was so hard. It was the hardest thing I have done but so amazing. I know I will be day-dreaming about this for years. It has been phenomenal.

Cape Wrath Ultra race director Shane Ohly gave his thoughts on this year’s event. He said “I think it has been special because we are geared up logistically for 300-plus runners and, while the numbers have been reduced due to the pandemic, we can’t really reduce the support for it when you have a vision of what we want the race to be.

“As a result, participants this year have had a very special experience and they have been incredibly well supported from the operational side.

“I also think that the coming-out-of-Covid spirit has really shone through and people have needed that time in the hills and the chance to connect back with the outdoors and ultra running community. It has been tangible.”

Cape Wrath Ultra 2021 results


Ian Stewart 50:39:44

Ritchie Williamson 55:51:02

George Winkley 55:56:35


Sally Fawcett 52:56:23

Lisa Watson 53:25:10

Sabrina Verjee 58:16:47


Ian Stewart 50:39:44

Sally Fawcett 52:56:23

Lisa Watson 53:25:10

Ritchie Williamson 55:51:02

George Winkley 55:56:35

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