From 31 August – 1 September 2019, Jenny Tough (who is well known for her ability to cover large distances on both foot and bike) is putting on an ultra-distance running event like no other. Set in the Scottish Highlands, there’s no set course, no feed stations, no base camp, no massage tent — and no mercy.
To win, since it’s like a rogaine, there are various ways to ‘make it’ depending on what you set yourself as a target once you have seen the maps. You can aim to get all the lower point checkpoints in easier locations, or go big and aim for the harder to reach ones which have a greater value. Making it as much about being tactically savvy and hot on navigation as it is about speed. Sound interesting? Then read on as Jenny explains exactly how the event works and just how hard — yet fun — it will be!
What is Type 2 fun?
“Type 2 fun is an experience that’s anything but enjoyable whilst you’re actively doing it. It’s the type of activity you curse while you endure it, probably saying you’ll never do it again, yet weirdly can’t wait to repeat it the moment you’ve finished. It’s a sense of truly earned enjoyment: An activity that has you celebrating it only after you suffer — the best type of fun there is. Combine this version of fun with a fun run of sorts, and we think you’d agree — you’re on to a great idea. Well, that’s what we thought at least. So here we are!'”
There is no race route – how does that work?
“There is a start/finish base that racers need to return to within the 30-hour time limit, but where they go in that time is pretty much up to them! The race is won by collecting the highest number of points, not by distance or speed. There will be checkpoints scattered all around the area, the value of each of them relating to their difficulty. Racers will try to get as many points as they can, strategically planning their own routes based on their own abilities. There are, however, a few mandatory checkpoints that will ensure a minimum distance that has to be run and take racers to some of the best Highlights in the region.
The old-school style of mountain marathons forbids using technology to navigate, but I designed this race to encourage more people into this style of exploring the outdoors. That’s why we’re letting all racers choose to navigate with whichever tool/system they prefer. Paper maps and compasses are important, but we feel that a lot of people coming into the sport will be more comfortable with digital technology, such as smartphones or wearables. I know from experience, for example, that using komoot in tandem with old-school nav tools can be really efficient, but runners are free to decide if they would rather go without technology.”
How hard is it?
“We’ve already had the reaction that this sounds like “the UK Barkley”, which I was kind of pleased with. But the truth is that it’s as hard as you make it. Runners get to pick their own routes, so the race will challenge everyone to varying degrees whether they’re beginners or experts. The beginners can stick to the mandatory checkpoints and work out their own navigation systems, which I hope will help them learn new skills and build the confidence to expand next year. To win the race, though, the experts will have to run some serious distances over difficult terrain. They will have to hit as many of the most challenging checkpoints as possible, meaning they’ll need to be accomplished strategic navigators as well as mountain runners to come back within 30 hours with the most points. All abilities are more than welcome.”
30 hours – how do people sleep and eat?
“There are no aid stations, so each racer needs to make their own decisions about this. There are a few bothies and plenty of wild camping opportunities on the course (wild camping is legal in Scotland), so there are unlimited opportunities for the self-sufficient. There are also towns in the area, so racers can decide whether they carry enough supplies for 30 hours, or stock up mid-race. It’ll be interesting to see which strategies work best. Personally, I would opt to sleep for a short amount of time and know that I’ll run and navigate much better, but some might decide to get the most out of the total 30 hours on the clock by never stopping.”
Why should runners sign up to this race?
“There truly isn’t another ultra like this. There are loads of ultras in the UK racing calendar this year, but this one is really doing things differently. The focus on this race is really about community, with everyone starting and finishing at the same time means that runners of all different abilities will be brought together for an awesome weekend in the outdoors.”
If reading this has whetted your appetite for a challenge then head over to read the events full details and sign up!
Follow Jenny Tough’s adventures on komoot: https://www.komoot.com/user/385673470997