The Jura Fell Race by Claire Aspinall

G2EACA Jura, UK. 28th May, 2016. The Jura Fell Race is one of the toughest British Hill Race challenges with a 28km course taking in 7 mountain summits and a total rise of 2370m. Taking place on the Scottish island of Jura and sponsored by the Isle of Jura Distillery, over 250 runners took part in the event with the winner Finlay Wild completing the course in 3 hours 9 minutes and 53 seconds. The Women?s race was won by Jasmin Paris in 3 hours 40 minutes and 59 seconds. Pictured: Runners entering the first checkpoint at Dubh Beinn © Richard Dyson/Alamy Live News

The Jura Fell Race

After completing the Jura Fell Race on the 28th May 2016 in a time of 4 hours and 59 minutes, people have asked me whether or not I would attempt the race again. My initial thoughts are the terrain was horrendous, I narrowly missed being hit by head sized boulders, I am black and blue with bruises from the scree and I ripped my shorts. I also look exceptionally red faced in all the pictures as I desperately tried to keep up with double Bob Graham record holder Nicky Spinks. Yet, I feel confused and aware that I need to reflect a little more before giving a response.

Nicky Spinks in Sight - G2EACA Jura Fell Race, UK. 28th May, 2016. Pictured: Runners entering the first checkpoint at Dubh Beinn © Richard Dyson/Alamy Live News

Nicky Spinks in Sight – G2EACA Jura Fell Race, UK. 28th May, 2016. Pictured: Runners entering the first checkpoint at Dubh Beinn © Richard Dyson/Alamy Live News

My adventure on Jura started a couple of days prior to the race as I wanted to do a bit of a recce to get my race lines wired. As the weather turned from sunshine to rain, I decided to save my legs and identify the best lines from below rather than on top of the Paps of Jura. This seemed a sensible trade off to make at the time.

Recce Day in the Rain - Photo Credit Mike Hutton

Recce Day in the Rain – Photo Credit Mike Hutton

Recce Day in the Sunshine - Photo Credit Mike Hutton

Recce Day in the Sunshine – Photo Credit Mike Hutton

After a day’s rest, more people started to arrive on the island and a tent village was quickly erected in front of the Jura Hotel. We mingled amongst familiar faces and fell running legends as we enjoyed the afternoon sun. As the afternoon turned into evening, the midges made their presence known and people quickly sought the refuge of the pub, their tents or their midge hats. I was now cursing the fact that I had left my Craghoppers Nosilife clothing and midge hat behind!

The Tent Village – Photo Credit Mike Hutton

The Tent Village – Photo Credit Mike Hutton

After a slightly restless night’s sleep, race day finally arrived. As I saw the cloud swirl around the top of the Paps, I marked up my map with bearings and tips from those who had run the route before. It was not long before we were all on the start line ready to go. After a minute or so we were off. The race started well as I had Nicky Spinks and Kirsty Bryan-Jones in sight and found their race pace a comfortable one. However, after a couple of hours racing, we had the descent of the first Pap to contend with. This is where a shout from above, awakened me to the fact that there was a head sized boulder coming in my direction. It narrowly missed me and my vision started to blur as I went into mild shock. I staggered off to the side of the scree gully and cowardly crawled my way down the rest of the descent. I promised to have some more food and water when I got to the bottom as I felt that I needed a few home comforts.

“A sudden wave of strength came over me as my legs stepped up a gear on the descent”

Safely at the bottom, my composure slowly restored. However, I had lost sight of Nicky Spinks and could see Kirsty disappearing into the distance. Oh well, I thought to myself, at least the visibility was now good and I had eyed up my descent of the third Pap a couple of days before. I decided to take the rest of the race at a steady pace until I got to the last of the seven summit’s. This strategy worked well until I got to the third Pap and took a poor descent line. As the scree line I was on came to an end and I looked across to my left, I could see 10 or so runners happily sliding down past and beneath me. I now had large sized boulders to contend with before I could get across to them. It was during this moment of doubt that a large boulder rolled onto the back of my leg and caused me to fall. In the process, other smaller boulders took chunks out of my legs and shorts. I felt and looked a mess but was also strangely buoyant at the fact that I only had one small summit to climb. As I reached the top of the last summit and checked my watch, I realised that I only had 57 mins to reach it to the finish line if I wanted to complete the race in under 5 hours. A sudden wave of strength came over me as my legs stepped up a gear on the descent. I had never felt so strong in a race after 4 hours before and knew that the training and steady pace had paid off. As I sprinted my way over the bog and down the road, I overtook about 15 people. I was waiting for cramp to take hold but it never did. I felt elated as I crossed the finish line in just under 5 hours. I quickly gulped down some water before seeking the refuge of the cool sea.

Jasmin Paris Leading for the Women

Jasmin Paris Leading for the Women – Photo by Mike Hutton

“The people, the place, the atmosphere and the weather have given me some very happy memories”

After a quick wash, I clapped other runners in before the afternoon and evening festivities began. Surrounded by endorphin fuelled fell runners, I felt happy and at home. As people have told me so many times before, Jura is not just a race, it is a special pilgrimage and it certainly felt like that to me. The people, the place, the atmosphere and the weather have given me some very happy memories which have paled into insignificance any pain or fear that I felt during the race. So yes, I would enter Jura again; only with a tougher pair of shorts!

End in Sight - Photo by Mike Hutton

End in Sight – Photo by Mike Hutton

If you fancy having a go at fell running visit the Peak Discoverers website at https://www.peakdiscoverers.co.uk
or, contact Claire Aspinall at claire.aspinall@peakdiscoverers.co.uk
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