Running the Tiree Ultra
This hopefully gives you an idea of what to expect, and what to train for! Course maps will be provided in your goodie bags, but it’s well worth familiarising yourself with the route.
Start line: on the beach a short walk from the community hall An Talla
The route goes round the island in a clockwise direction
Finish line: right in front of the hall
Essentially you’re going to be following the coastline round the entire island. There is a navigation element to this, but it’s not there to catch you out. You’ll be running across sandy beaches, along gravel tracks, grassy dunes, sheep tracks, a few bogs and some rocky outcrops. There’s a few hills but nothing serious. It’s a really enjoyable course. Varied and incredibly scenic.
Details below from the 2017 event, the course remains unchanged, but any updates will be posted here and on the Facebook page.
GPX file available through the MapMyRun website
So keeping the sea on the left and checking in at all the checkpoints you cant really go too far wrong. But you will need a map, and you will need to use it. Route markers will guide you in the right direction and each checkpoint will be clearly marked in your briefing notes. This is not orienteering, it’s an ultramarathon. But Tiree is a very open island, and we want to retain that sense of adventure. So be prepared to explore!
At the checkpoints there will be timing stations, number checks and a chance to fill up with some water and grab some snacks. The friendly marshals will encourage you along the way, but you need to prepare as if you’re going to be self sufficient.
The maps below show the route, broken down into four sections that correspond to the relay team segments.
Part 1 is 8.4 miles with an elevation of 317ft. It’s got the hills, rough terrain and it’s the most remote part of the island. You’ll go through Happy Valley as you explore the back of Ben Hynish, and then on towards Kenovarra across beautiful beaches and finally to the Sandaig checkpoint.
Part 2 is a mix of beach, road and grassy track. At 9.1 miles it’s the longest section, but you’re rewarded with some great distractions – the Maze beach, Balevullin, windsurfers on loch Bhasapol, and finally Balephetrish Bay.
Part 3 is 8.6 miles and almost entirely off road. Some great trails to follow and some lovely little beaches. The high point is reaching Dun Mor Vaul, a well preserved broch which you will call into, so take a moment to admire the double walls and the commanding views out to sea. You’ve got 142ft elevation but this is mostly the ups and downs of coastal paths and sheep tracks. Dont loose the way!
Part 4 is 8.4 miles and only 73ft elevation, so this segment is flat: lots of beach miles and hopefully no headwind. This is the final part of the day to admire the views out to sea, to find your rhythm and breathe in the fresh sea air. Or perhaps just to get the head down and grit it out for the final few miles!
Once back to the hall, you’ll be warmly welcomed – the Chocolates & Charms Cafe is serving hot food and the bar is open all day. Chill out, bask in your achievement, and exchange stories of island adventure.