Jura Race Report 2014
by Hazel McLaughlin
Saturday 24th May 5 runners from N. Ireland lined up on the sunbathed start line of the Isle of Jura fell race with 7 summits and 2730m of climbing to come: Trevor Wilson, Bryan Magee, Phelim McAlister, Eamonn and Hazel McLaughlin. Only one could really know what an enormous challenge laid ahead; Trevor Wilson had already completed an impressive 9 Jura races.
My own journey had begun in Laura and Phelims house in Glenarm, from which on a clear day you can see the Paps of Jura. Jura is part of the Inner Hebrides, and yes Paps do mean breasts, though there are three! After a Jura whiskey on Christmas day we decided it was a great idea to enter arguably the toughest fell race in the British Isles. It certainly packs in a lot of technical terrain in a relatively short space. Getting to Jura is a challenge in itself, with the above choosing 3 differing routes between us. All arrived on Friday, set up camp in Criaghouse and enjoyed chatting to other runners and a great dinner in the pub.
We awoke early and set about making breakfast, chatting to other runners, going through the kit check etc, whilst nervously glancing up the 6th Pap, thinking how can anyone ‘run’ off that. With the sun heating up, my tinted factor 50 was duly passed around, meaning that if all else failed at least the men looked the part.
The route starts off over boggy ground, with Phelim enjoying a plunge up to his chest. After the bog the first 3 hills are good going, with good descents off the first two, a bit more bog then leading to a very steep decent off the 3rd summit with some scree. We were enjoying the spectacular views until the mighty first pap lay ahead and the ‘fun’ really began. After a tough climb, and a quick at the amazing views over the Sound of Jura came a very steep decent with rocky scree, intersected with large boulders. It was then onwards and upwards over more of the same for the final two Paps, (5th and 6th climbs), involving a bit of scrambling. The decent off the 3rd Pap is the most tricky, traversing scree and bolder strewn heather.
We then had the final summit which I had to use my hands to pull myself up in parts, followed by a long run over tussocks and bog which seemed to go on forever, to the 3 Arch Bridge, with a final 3 mile road section back to Criaghouse for good measure. For me this section was a mix between trying not to cramp up and escaping the Scottish midges.
The fastest of the group was Phelim McAlister in a time of 4:57:49 followed by Hazel McLaughlin 5:22:15, Bryan Magee in 5:28:24 and Trevor Wilson in 6:03:34. Eamonn had fallen between the 3rd and 4th hills, jarred his back and sensibly decided to pull out at the 5th summit.
After a dip in the sea, much chat, local homemade cakes and ‘trailer showers’ we all headed to the hotel for a well-deserved pint, a great dinner and of course a wee Jura whisky.
Overall Men’s: 1st Hector Haines, HBT: 3:06:30, 2nd Finlay Wild, Lochaber: 3:18:05 3rd Andrew Fallas: Carnethy 3:22:22.
Ladies: Jasmine Paris, Carnethy: 3.52.53, 2nd Helen Bosnor, Carnethy: 3:56:12 and 3rd Diane Baum, Lochaber: 4:12:19.