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Jack Wright and Cat Graves win Jura Fell Race 2024

Plus a guide to the iconic Scottish mountain race for 'more ordinary but still sparkly' runners

Written by Fiona

May 29 2024

A runner from Ambleside AC triumphed in one of the toughest UK hill races this month. Jack Wright won The Isle of Jura Fell Race 2024 in a time of  3 hours, 18 minutes and 58 seconds. He was closely followed by Tom Saville, of Dark Peak Fell Runners, in  3:20:18 and Luke Taylor, of Highland Hill Runners, in 3:21:38.

In the female race, Catriona Graves, also of Highland Hill Runners, took the win in a time of 4:01:08.

Eleanor Johnstone, of Pennine Fell Runners, was second female in 4:09:30, while Bryony Halcrow, also of Ambleside AC, finished third in 4:11:40.

Competitors need to get a ferry to Jura from the mainland and camp.

What is the Jura fell Race?

The Jura Fell Race extends to seven mountain summits, a distance of 28km and almost 2400m of ascent. It take place on an famously tough terrain of rocks, scree and boggy ground.

Conditions on the day included an overcast morning, with the clag hanging around for longer than forecast. Eventually, it lifted and the sun came out, making it quite warm for the rest of the afternoon. 

Another aspect of the race, is that you need to travel from the mainland by ferry and most competitors camp for two nights.

Debut Jura Fell Race for Luke Taylor

While Jack and Tom were return competitors to the race, it was Luke’s debut. The 27-year-old runner described it as “a day I’ll not forget in a hurry”. 

He added: “It was my first time on Jura so I didn’t really know what to expect from the race or terrain. 

“I also knew there was a really talented field of runners, so at the start of the day I decided I would be pretty happy getting into the top 20. 

“I went off quite conservatively and gradually moved up through the race field. It was one of those rare days when my legs felt great. 

“I was in quite a large group of runners for most of the race and went over the last couple of hills with Alistair Graves, of the Ochil Hill Runners. I didn’t realise at the time that we were in third and fourth place until I asked a marshall how many runners had been through. Our position came as quite a surprise.

“On the last descent I managed to get a gap on the other runners, making the road run slightly less stressful then it might have been. 

“It was a total shock to take third place in such a historic race – and be among such great athletes.”

Cat’s win in female race

Fellow Highland Hill Runners club member, Cat was 43rd overall. She said: “The race went really well and I was leading from the start.

“I was a bit apprehensive prior to taking part because I am not a fan of rocky technical descents but apart from the last Pap they were a lot better than I expected.

“I knew I was close to running sub-four hours, which spurred me on as I had no idea how far ahead I was of the second female. 

“That last 5k was hard but sadly I couldn’t quite run under 22 minutes to break the four-hour mark.”

Cat, also 27, added: “I’m really pleased with the win especially as I have had various injuries over winter so haven’t been able to train consistently.”

The top four teams in 2024 were Ambleside AC in first place, followed by Carnethy Hill Running Club, Dark Peak and HHR.

Finlay Wild holds the course record of 2:58:09 set in 2022 and  Jasmin Paris set a female record of 3:38:43 in 2015.

Lynsey in the Jura Fell Race 2024.

Jura Fell Race for ‘more ordinary, but still sparkly’ runners

While impressed by the front-runners and their times, there are many other “more ordinary, but still sparkly” runners in the field of 250 competitors. This is a description that I have come up with among friends and by “more ordinary” I mean they are competent hill runners but with different expectations.

Rather than being the first to finish, many will be aiming to experience a classic but tough Scottish hill race, or to “simply finish”. Yet, they will still sparkle as they do.

Lynsey Munro, 46, of Westerlands Cross Country Club – The Westies – is a good example of this type of runner. She said: “It’s a race that I have long known about and a classic hill race that has been on my bucket list. I have always known it is a big under-taking and I have worked my way towards the Jura Fell Race.”

To gain an entry to the Jura Fell Race potential competitors must meet a criteria to prove competence on the terrain, over the distance and the navigation required for remote mountains. Lynsey had previously completed the Arrochar Alps Race and The Two Breweries Hill Race.

While she had gained entry to the Jura race in 2023, due to a busy work and home life, Lynsey decided to postpone for the 2024 event.

She said: “I work full-time and have three young children. I don’t have a lot of time to train and my husband and I often juggle work, kids and our dog between us.

“Last year I felt it was all too much to then add training on top, but this year I have managed to find some time for training.”

In the build up to Jura, she also competed in a couple of events, Kaim Hill Race and Beinn Dubh Hill Race. She is a regular attender at Westies hill runs and has focused her training on gaining strength and ensuring running fitness with plenty of elevation.

She said: “You always think you need to do more hills and running but I have done as much as I could fit in. I was worried leading up to the Jura race I’d not done enough and on the day itself I felt very anxious.

“But I told myself I just wanted to get round safely and without injury. I wasn’t bothered about what time I got.”

Lynsey, who was supported by her husband Tony and their dog Buddy,  finished 15th in the V40 female age group in a time of 6:17:40. She said: “I am really pleased with how the race went and I am delighted to have finished without any major issues.

“The first pap has the biggest amount of accent and it felt relentless. My leg muscles were screaming and I stopped a few times for a wee rest on that climb. After that, the other climbs were okay. 

“The mountain terrain and rocks were what I had expected and the hardest part was actually a boggy section towards the end of the race. I was prepared for the famous scree although it was brutal all the same.

“I knew the final tarmac road section would be very hard and it was, but not as awful as the miles of boggy ground once we came off the mountains. I kept losing my stride and going over on my feet and ankles.

“I found the navigation fine despite a claggy start. I took up the chance to start the race a bit earlier and I am pleased I did although then I was overtaken by many of the faster runners. I didn’t really mind though because I wasn’t in it for a particular race time. It also got sunnier as the day went on.

“I have completed an iconic and tough race and I am proud of myself.”

See Isle of Jura Fell Race to keep track of entries for 2025.

  • Thanks to Dawn Waugh for photos.

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