Get ultra excited about Argyll’s ultramarathons

Author: 
Wild About Argyll

An ultramarathon is any race longer than the classic marathon distance of 26.2 miles. It’s a fast-growing sport, with more and more runners catching the ultra bug. Most ultra races are on off-road trails, in spectacular places.

With a wild and varied landscape, Argyll is becoming one of Scotland’s top ultra destinations. The routes make the most of Argyll’s varied terrain. You might find yourself running along the beach, scaling a hill, darting through a forest or jogging next to a loch. It’s not just the hills that will leave you breathless; Argyll’s ultramarathon routes are designed to take in local beauty spots and viewpoints.

Ultramarathons are more achievable than you might think. Argyll’s ultras are in the 30 to 40-mile spectrum and all offer a relay option. Whether you’re yet to run a marathon or you’re a seasoned ultra pro, there’s an ultra race for you in Argyll.

If you want to experience the wildest, most exciting and most spectacular ultra running in Britain, then sign up for one of these Argyll ultras. Just one word of warning. The scenery in Argyll is so stunning that you may want to add an hour to your estimated finish time - simply for photo stops!

Kintyre Way Ultra - 5th May 2018

Tarbert to Campbeltown along the Kintyre Way is one of Scotland’s most scenic long-distance paths. And the Kintyre Way Ultra Marathon, featured on the BBC’s Adventure Show, is trail running at its very best. The 35.5-mile route is a stunner, using hill paths and forestry tracks through some of Scotland’s most magnificent scenery. The run begins at Tayinloan and criss-crosses the Kintyre peninsula, treating runners to epic views across the sea to Arran, Islay, Jura and Gigha. You can also do the run in a relay of three sections, making it a great option for ultra newbies. There are two cycling option too. The Ultra Cycle begins at Tarbert and covers 75 miles over a mixture of tough terrain and road. The Cyclosportive is a shorter option at 42 miles.

The Kintyre Way Ultra is an exceptionally friendly and well-organised event, with plenty of refreshments at checkpoints along the way, helpful stewards, electronic timing and great technical goody bags for finishers. The Ultra Village at the finish point provides food, drink, music, activities and a kids’ fun area.

Race organizer Andrea McShannon said: ‘We now have less than one month to go until The Kintyre Way Ultra when over 200 competitors will take part in this serious trail running & cycling event. The event has something for (almost) everyone, for the more adventurous try the Ultra Marathon (35.5 miles) or Ultra Cycle (75 miles). If this sounds a little too much how about getting a relay running team together or enter the Cycle Sportive? Entries close on the 15th April, so you’ll need to be quick!’ Sign up for the Kintyre Way Ultra here.

Cowal Way Chase & Ultra – 14th July 2018

This ultramarathon take place on another of Scotland’s great trails. The Cowal Way is known as ‘Scotland in 57 miles’. Starting at Portavadie on Loch Fyne and finishing at Inveruglas on Loch Lomond, it gives a tantalising taste of everything the Highlands has to offer, from tranquil glens to majestic mountains. The Cowal Way Chase & Ultra is a fabulous way to experience this lesser known part of Argyll. You won’t be running the entire way though! The Cowal Way Ultra Route is just over 30 miles and this year will use the more northern section of the Cowal Way, starting and finishing in Lochgoilhead. You can expect varied terrain with hard-packed paths, loose gravel and forest roads, and stunning views of lochs, mountains and waterfalls. There’s also a relay option and new for 2018 an 18-mile trail running option. Cyclists are catered for with a 60-mile gravel race.

The Cowal Way Chase is organised by No Fuss Events in partnership with Colintraive & Glendaruel Development Trust. You can expect a great atmosphere, with a goody bag, hot food at the finish, support stations and all the extras.

Sign up for the Cowal Way Chase & Ultra online

Dunoon Ultra Marathon – Saturday 6th October

Here’s your Argyll ultramarathon to finish off the season. The Dunoon/Loch Eck Ultra Marathon is a 33-mile feat of endurance amid stunning coastal countryside. Starting from the famous Benmore Botanical Garden, the route takes take you through some of the area’s top beauty spots. Climb up the gorge path through magical Pucks Glen and then race along the forestry trail and climb high above Loch Eck. You’ll be treated to fantastic views north and south of the loch, particularly as you reach the highest section of the run 600m above sea level. Descend through Glenbranter Forest and return south on the west side of Loch Eck. Then it’s back to Dunoon through the forest trails and natural woodland of Bishop’s Glen. This last mile stretches north alongside the beach giving you beautiful views of the hills above Wemyss Bay, Inverkip and Gourock. The route finishes at the iconic Dunoon Pier in the centre of town where you’ll l be treated to roars of approval from the crowds. If you don’t fancy doing the entire distance, there’s a relay option to split the route into three sections.

Again, you’ll get all the extras, including a technical goody bag, finish line fun and lots of support from volunteer stewards.

Dunoon is easily accessible from Glasgow by public transport. Just take the train from Glasgow Central and buy a return ticket all the way to Dunoon. You’ll catch the passenger only ferry from Gourock Train Station which will drop you near Dunoon Pier. From here, there’s a shuttle bus to the start line at Benmore.

Sign up for the Dunoon Ultra Marathon online.

Try a triathlon?

If an ultramarathon doesn’t appeal, how about trying a triathlon instead? A triathlon combines swimming, cycling, and running in one event. Although it sounds daunting, in Argyll there are opportunities for all ability levels and ambitions with different race distances ranging from sprint to full. The Mid Argyll Triathlon in Lochgilphead is a good choice if you’re new to triathlons while MOK Triathlon in Kintyre is a stunning route. Entries open next week for the ever-popular Craggy Island Triathlon near Oban, when you swim across the sound to the island of Kerrera where the rest of the race is entirely off road.

Header photo: Kintyre Way Ultra 

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