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Rat Race Ultra Tour of Arran

13-Apr-2019 Brodick, Isle of Arran, UK (Scotland)

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1 REVIEWS
Mountains Race Race Terrain
97KM / 60Miles
2 Days - 700 Runners

DIFFICULTY Race Difficulty Advanced  

Entry From £200 GBP

They say Arran is Scotland in miniature.

From dense forests and coastal scenery in the South to crumbling castles and dramatic mountains in the North, the Isle of Arran delights at every turn. Welcome to Ultra Tour of Arran – a 2 day off-road running adventure from Rat Race – the UK’s favourite adventure sports crew.

We do events differently.

And for this one, we love the notion of setting sail to a location ‘over the water’ where you will feel a million miles away, but where you are in fact within easy reach of the mainland.

With a simple 55 minute ferry crossing and a bundle of easy logistics thrown in, we encourage you to raise your clan and bring them over with you, enjoy our basecamp vibe, camp, run and be merry.

We know you’ll love Arran; and it’s not just the running.

The island itself has a lot to offer with its own whisky distilery, artisan cheese, great food, history and a lovely ambience.

And the running?

Well, this wee piece of paradise has it all: Don’t let its size fool you though – packing an Ultra into each day over a 2 day weekend you will rack up 60 miles with some serious vertical gain.

The mountains are high, the glens deep, the forests enchanting and the coastal scenery stunning.

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Rat Race Adventure Sports

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Beginner

Elevation: Very little change < 500 metres. Benign running terrain, not technical.

Suitable for: First ultra runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running in the last six months.

Intermediate

Elevation: Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed at least one ultra distance race (or similar event) or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Advanced

Elevation: Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for: Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Expert

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat) and or technical terrain

Suitable for: Experienced runners who have completed at least regular ultra distances in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Brutal

Elevation: Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude) and or technical terrain.

Suitable for: Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to evidence of recent qualifying race participation and recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Type: An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for: Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Global - Virtual

Type: A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for: For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Review Rat Race Ultra Tour of Arran

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10:01 17-04-18

2018's inaugural race delighted, surprised and did it's best to break the 300+ runners, with its wonderful range of scenery that was a real challenge. Day 1 incorporated hills and beaches, forests and peat bogs. The first real challenge was the alternating boulder-strewn beach and snaking, undulating boardwalks running down the east coast. Both the potentially ankle-turning rocks and the algae-covered and constantly twisting planks of the boardwalk demanded maximum concentration. More muddy hills, some lovely coastal villages complete with seals bobbing in the water took us through the first two checkpoints. Then it was uphill through forests that soon turned into jungle-like deep pine forest, with sodden peat bog underfoot. This was a real pace-slower, with you never knowing if your next step would just sink ankle deep into the freezing water, or it would be knee-deep with the muddy peat trying to keep your running shoes. This was real wilderness, with no tracks and only the marker tape to follow, for well over an hour. Course marking throughout this race was truly excellent though, so no real worries.

Eventually gravel roads emerged and a final long steep climb gained altitude for the final descent into Brodick base camp. Only just over 45k according to my Garmin but 5 hours 16 minutes for me, for a top 20 finish. Most chose to camp on the local rugby field and the race organiser laid on a food and beer tent with meal tokens given, along with water and flapjack to help start putting some calories back.

Some raced only the first day but most were up again for day 2, which this time headed north and back to take in the highlands. More bogs and beaches but the main feature of this day was the mountains. After starting with a run along the beach, we soon started climbing past Arran brewery and into the foothills that rapidly became true mountain running/walking/climbing. As we ascended the temperature dropped, the first snow patches arrived and then the wind chill really hit. A ridgeline run at the top allowed you to pick up a little speed, so long as you weren't blown over, before a tricky steep descent through the heather warmed the runners up again. Soon we were in a sheltered valley with the sun out and the temperature making it too warm for the gloves and hat needed not long before. Lots more bog-hopping and stream crossing led eventually to the first checkpoint at Arran distillery. No whisky on offer but Red Bull if that's your thing, hot drinks, fruit and the usual offerings helped revive energy.

We then headed to the north coast, with clear views to the mainland, before turning and running along the coastal path heading south again. On the map this looked to be an easy 10k section but the rocks and ever present boggy patches conspired against fast progress with a relentless headwind making this rather gruelling. The second checkpoint at the end of this section provided more refreshments, with the unexpected extra refreshment of a waist-deep river estuary crossing. Running again on the other side soon warmed you up again though but the sand in my shoes was an irritant for the rest of the race.

We now turned inland and started gradually climbing from the coast towards the highest point of the race - and of the island - Goatfell, at 874m. This was a actually a morale booster after the energy-sapping headwinds of the coastal path but the rain soon started and we gradually climbed into cloud. Running, slowed to hiking, which soon slowed to climbing and I do mean climbing. Both hands were needed in places to pull yourself up gulleys and over rocks too high to simply step on. Eventually we reached a point where a decision had to be made to continue with the high course to the summit, or to take a low route down Glen Rosa back to Brodick. If you missed the cut-off the decision was made for you but others chose the low course voluntarily too and I believe it was enforced a little sooner than expected on others due to deteriorating weather. The marshals also enforced a change into full waterproof jacket and trousers for those continuing up. Yes, we really did have to actually use those waterproof trousers everyone packs to pass the kit check but never expects to really use. The reasons soon became obvious. Driving rain turned to sideways sleet. Wind strength tore at any loose clothing or straps and visibility closed in so much it became difficult to see the next marker flags, despite the snowy background. Reassuringly there were other safety-marshals at and near the summit but though I pitied them camped out there for hours in such conditions, they were ever-cheerful and encouraging.

Finally the descent began; a bit more of an obvious path/staircase but too steep to run properly and with every step/jump trashing your quads and beating your knees. As we reached lower altitudes visibility improved, the rain stopped and it became too warm for the waterproofs but I for one didn't want to waste time stopping to take them off. Glancing backwards I saw a few runners that I didn't want to overtake me and tried my best pick up my pitifully slow pace. It worked and I held them off as we reached roads again and rejoined the route out, going the opposite direction along the beach this time before cutting back to the camp site and the race finish. My time was 8 hours 45 minutes for just over 50k but this really was a mountain run with no easy kilometres, I think keeping me in the top 20, maybe improving depending on who did or didn't go via the high course.

The results are still pending but in a way they don't matter. This was a brilliant, tough but beautiful race, though the adjective I heard most from runners after the race was 'brutal'! It was of course - but that's what helped make it so worthwhile. The course designer did a great job.

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