This weekend it’s one of the UK’s toughest running events – the Montane Cheviot Goat. 55 miles of wide open countryside, rolling hills and lots and lots of peat bog!
First things first, let’s answer some questions about the race. What’s the connection with Montane? Other races they sponsor include the Spine Race, the Yukon Arctic Ultra and Tor des Geants. Ah, I see, they like to add their name to events where the runners suffer. Whether it’s miles of knee-deep bog, self-supported Arctic adventures, or 330km of mountains non-stop, they like it tough.
And why is it called the Cheviot Goat? Somewhat chillingly, the Cheviot goat is the only animal that is left to fend for itself in this area in the winter. Other livestock is taken off the hill. So runners are treated as less than sheep, and on a par with goats. Read into that what you want.
So why is the Cheviot Goat so popular? First and foremost, runners will get to experience one of the UK’s last wildernesses. There’s little accessibility for vehicles for much of the course and it’s a very sparsely populated area, so there won’t be many Starbucks to provide a break for the runners. They’ll get to run along the border between England and Scotland, as part of a big loop from Ingram village hall.
The fact that the race is in December means that the conditions can be particularly testing with a lot of the race being run in the dark. Do you hope for snow and ice, so that you can trot over frozen bogs and keep your feet dry? Or do you hope for slightly warmer conditions so that your hands and ears are less uncomfortable, but you spend hours up to your knees in peat bogs? It’s a tough choice.
This year the list of entrants includes: Galen Reynolds, this year’s men’s winner of Dragon’s Back; Ricky Lightfoot, legendary fell runner and winner of many iconic fell and mountain races; Jim Mann, who ran all 3 UK rounds in one month in winter (as well as many other race wins including Dragon’s Back); John Kelly, Barkley finisher and attempter of the ‘Grand Round‘; Carol Morgan, winner of the Spine and Dragon’s Back; and fan of double rounds, Nicky Spinks.
If you’re a fan of dot watching you can track the runners here: http://live.opentracking.co.uk/cheviotgoat19/
Header image Paul Mitchell/Wildman Media