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Gamekeeper turned runner to take on Cape Wrath Ultra 2024

Written by Fiona

May 14 2024

A Scottish gamekeeper and deerstalker who has only recently taken up running is among the participants who will line up at the start of the Cape Wrath Ultra 2024 this month.

David Fergusson was inspired by watching the action in previous years and will join more than 180 athletes from 19 different nations when the race starts in Fort William on Sunday May 19.

David Fergusson at work.

What is the Cape Wrath Ulta?  

Founded in 2016 by Ourea Events, the Cape Wrath Ultra is a 400km journey over eight days through the Scottish Highlands, from Fort William to Cape Wrath at the most north-westerly point of mainland Britain.

Ultra-runners face challenging terrain that links ancient footpaths and remote tracks through some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes, including Knoydart, Kintail, Torridon, Assynt and Sutherland. The race does not use any signs or waymarking to show the route and participants are required to use a combination of traditional navigational skills with a map and compass, supplemented by modern GPS technology, if they wish.

The Cape Wrath Ultra takes runners through remote Highland landscapes. Credit: Steve Ashworth
Laura O’Driscoll in action at the 2022 CWU. Credit: Cape Wrath Ultra & No Limits Photography

Cape Wrath Ultra 2024

The line-up for the Cape Wrath Ultra includes athletes from different walks of life and across a range of experience.

One of the potential front-runners is Bridget Glaister. She is an experienced ultra-runner and was second lady in the 2022 Dragon’s Back Race, which is also organised by Ourea.

Meanwhile, in the men’s race, Tristan Stephenson is one to watch, after finishing second in the Arc of Attrition in 2022 and fourth overall in last year’s Dragon’s Back Race.

Elsewhere, Barry and Natalie Dawson will be the first father and daughter to take on the event in the same year, while father and son Tim and Will Robinson will also be running.

David is a member of the Atholl Highlanders.

Gamekeeper David’s Cape Wrath Ultra aspirations

David, 34, is originally from Lochaline, Morvern. After graduating with a biology degree, he studied gamekeeping and wildlife management and has worked as a deerstalker on several Scottish estates. He is also a member of the Atholl Highlanders, the only private army in Europe.

Since 2020, David has been estate manager and deerstalker at the Camusrory Estate at the head of Loch Nevis, where he lives with his wife Carol.

The Cape Wrath Ultra route passes through the estate and the couple has assisted the organisers with logistics and management. This triggered David’s interest in running – and now in tackling the race.

David said: “I have never participated in any formal running event before but after helping and watching in recent years, I decided to take the bull by the horns and register for the 2024 event.

“I’ve been training in extreme weather and conditions for a year now and I am really looking forward to taking on the extreme challenge that the Cape Wrath Ultra offers through the dramatic Scottish landscape. 

“I have also decided to use the opportunity to run a fundraising page for Thunderbird Project (David Fergusson is fundraising for The Thunderbird Project (justgiving.com)), which is a charity that carries out research into sending drones into remote and difficult-to-reach mountainous areas with emergency medical supplies.

“The charity was set up by a fellow Atholl Highlander who sadly passed away last year, so it is a fitting tribute and close to my heart.”

Thumb’s up from Scotland’s Paul Manson at the 2022 CWU. Credit: Cape Wrath Ultra & No Limits Photography

Cape Wrath Explorer

The Cape Wrath Ultra will take place alongside the Cape Wrath Explorer, which allows participants to tackle part of the route each day. It is designed as a more accessible route into an iconic event for those who don’t think they can complete the full course, or are not yet ready to try that. 

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