A dominant day one display from Great Britain’s Jo Meek was the highlight in the Cape Wrath Ultra that got underway on Sunday, May 21.
She has opened up a 20 minute gap to second place after just 37km of the mammoth 400km, eight day trek through the Scottish highlands – to give some context, the top six men are covered by just under 11 minutes in the race.
The opening stage of the race began in Fort Williams heading South West along the shores of Loch Eli before competitors navigated their way through the hills of to the west of Ben Nevis.
Scotland’s David Parrish heads that men’s field by under half a minute from Spain’s Fernando Alvarez – although all that could change with a testing 57km day two on the horizon.
You can follow the action live on the Cape Wrath Ultra race tracker.
Meek dominates day one
It was a sensational display from Meek as she dominated the women’s race on day one – she outpaced the field by 21 minutes and six seconds over the opening 37km of the mammoth 400km, eight day challenge.
Meek, who has shown fine form on the UTMB World Series circuit this season with wins at the Chianti Ultra Trail 2023 (100K) in Italy and Amazean Jungle Thailand by UTMB (50K), led compatriot Elaine Bisson over the finish line.
Bisson – who finished second in the 2021 Montane Dragon’s Back Race and 2022 SILVA Northern Traverse – was a further three minutes and 12 seconds ahead of a third Brit Jana Szczepaniak. In fact, seven of the top ten were from Great Britain with Sarah Perry, Debbie Matin-Consani, Maxie Scheske and Anna Bienkowska in contention.
The Netherland’s Eeke Triggs Hodge is the lead overseas runner in the women’s race after day one. She completed the first leg in a time of 3:39:29 – just under half an hour off the pace of Meek. Frenchwomen Bénédicte Saintier and South African Kerry Koen were the other members of the top ten.
Meek’s display, however, was extraordinary, given that this is one of the strongest women’s field the Cape Wrath Ultra has ever seen.
Parrish heads close field
In the men’s race it was Parrish who enjoyed home comforts as he crossed the finish line in the lead on day one. The Scotsman was one of two athletes to complete the 37km opening stage in under a three hours. He led Spain’s Alvarez over the line by 26 seconds.
Not far off the pace were the British trio of Richard Lindsay, Jonathan Hall and Ian Malcolm, as well as Australian Michael Bray. The top six are covered by 11 minutes and 43 seconds.
Another British trio, Mark Caldwell, Alistair Smith and Sam Hill were a further 10 minutes or so back, while Scotland’s Gavin Bussey rounds off the top ten a further seven minutes off the pace.
Day two awaits
Day two of the Cape Wrath Ultra has runners ascending into some of the remotest areas of Scotland – clipping the end of Scotland’s two longest dead-end roads. Even the night two camp is far, far away from civilisation.
Beginning in Glenfinnan, competitors head north through the valley before the course rises up towards Strathan and past Glendessary. Runners then head west all the way to the edge of Loch Nevis at Sourlies before once again heading North.
Another brush with the coast at Loch Hourn comes towards the end of the stage as the course head East for the final few kilometeres. Kinloch Hourn is the final destination for runners on day two.
Standings after day one of Cape Wrath Ultra
- David Parrish (GBR) – 2:55:59
- Fernando Alvarez (ESP) – 2:56:25
- Richard Lindsay (GBR) – 3:04:57
- Jonathan Hall (GBR) – 3:07:13
- Ian Malcolm (GBR) – 3:07:17
- Michael Bray (AUS) – 3:07:42
- Mark Caldwell (GBR) – 3:17:21
- Alistair Smith (GBR) – 3:18:57
- Sam Hill (GBR) – 3:18:59
- Gavin Bussey (GBR) – 3:26:38
- Jo Meek (GBR) – 3:09:40
- Elaine Bisson (GBR) – 3:30:46
- Jana Szczepaniak (GBR) – 3:33:58
- Eke Triggs Hidge (NED) – 3:39:29
- Sarah Perry (GBR) – 3:56:54
- Debbie Martin-Consani (GBR) – 3:58:17
- Bénédicte Saintier (FRA) – 3:59:11
- Kerry Koen (RSA) – 3:59:52
- Maxie Scheske (GBR) – 4:00:44
- Anna Bienkowska (GBR) 4:06:56