From the eastern edge of Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most iconic valleys, we drove south along the Western Highland Road and climbed quickly along a rocky trail. The majestic Rannoch Moor unfolded before us. Meadows and heathers, reflecting the warm July sunshine, are the brightest green. White swamp cotton fluttered in the breeze.
Once you give up heavy hiking boots and bulky backpacks, you will travel through the mountains at an amazing speed. We soon reached the top of the ascent, and the rocky route ahead unfolded. We ran down, through the swamp, and let gravity do the work. A river slowly slowed down, forming a small lake. The still water reflects the clouds above.
After months of coronavirus travel restrictions and regular lockdowns, crossing the Scottish Highlands only a few hours after taking off from London’s sleepy city airport, provides an exciting and unfamiliar sense of freedom.
The one-day route is short, about seven miles, but the scenery is amazing. The steep gorge turned into an open, undulating grassland, and then a dense pine forest on the edge of Lake Tula, and then we stumbled onto a secluded road next to the quaint hut.
Our running, at least today, is over. In contrast, next April, when the current Army Sergeant Major Matt Smith hopes that 40 runners will run on the same track, they will be about 20 miles away from the end of the first phase and 110 miles away from the end of the four days. Multi-mile race.
Although I am a guest of Smith Primitive adventure, Sampling his plans for next year in Scotland Highland King ChaoHe hopes that these competitors will pay £15,499 for this privilege-an amount that will certainly attract the attention of some traditional down-to-earth, simple sports fans.
“There are thousands of super races in the world, but none of them are like this.” Earlier in the day, as we drove a sparkling Land Rover along the edge of Loch Lomond, Smith told me Explains that he just came out of Glasgow’s front yard. “People want to do things that others have not done, or things that others cannot do.”
Over the past decade, the number of people involved in super running sports, which are classified as any running race longer than a traditional marathon, has skyrocketed. Although running (or jogging) 26 miles may be enough to win the respect of friends and colleagues 20 years ago, today more people are looking for more difficult challenges and often run farther and farther.
According to statistics, in 2018, at least 611,098 people participated in the ultramarathon globally, an increase of 345% in 10 years. May study It claims to cover more than 85% of the world’s supercar races.
The length, duration, and format of the game vary, ranging from extremely difficult to seemingly crazy. The elite Hardrock 100 athletes in Colorado ran 100 miles and climbed 10,000 meters at an average altitude of more than 11,000 feet. In more provincial environments, John Stock From Oxfordshire, England, he ran an 81-hour record of 337 miles in Suffolk Backyard Ultra in June, and ran 4.167 miles per hour in the county’s Knettishall Heath until he gave up.
Regardless of physical feats, such a competition is usually a logistical challenge for the contestants. In the 6-day 155-mile Marathon des Sables I completed in the Sahara Desert in 2019, we brought our own food and equipment and slept in open Berber tents on the rocky desert. Ring O’Fire is a three-day, 135-mile race around Anglesey, Wales. Participants spent the first night on the cold floor of the leisure center and the second night in the country hall.
Purists may argue that such difficulties are all part of the “super experience”, but this is what makes the Smith race different. Forty participants of the Highland Kings team will recuperate in the luxurious horse racing camp every night, rest their tired legs in the spa pool, enjoy “world-class” sports massages, and sit on top of a separate butler-style memory foam. Sleep in bed. A bell-shaped tent that provides services, while food is provided by a chef from a Michelin-starred restaurant.
“Play like a warrior and recover like a king,” said Smith, who has planned the event for four years and called it “the world’s first premium super event.” But he insisted that this is not luxury for the sake of luxury. On the contrary, the event aims to “create the best conditions for one to play the most role.” In his words, to achieve “best human performance.”
“In my military career, I have always wanted to make my body reach its best condition,” Smith said. “So when I create these events, I want these events to be the best, so I need the best people, I need the best equipment, and I need the best logistics.”
Taking performance into account, the race experience of the participants will begin, not on the starting line in April, but a comprehensive cardiopulmonary exercise test at the Porsche Human Performance Center at Silverstone in the UK seven months in advance.
Smith claimed that nothing was ignored. Precision Hydration, based in Dorset, will use sweat composition assessments to provide runners with customized hydration supplements. Garmin will provide personalized watches, and ThruDark will provide competition clothing. World-class super runners Anna-Marie Watson and Jonathan Albon will provide guidance throughout the training process and review participants’ monthly training plans.
“It’s not just how much you can run, but how much you can recover,” Watson explained, who finished second in the 2015 Sable Marathon and received a series of other victories and Fastest known time In her name. As one of the few women currently setting a record for super running, Watson hopes that the Highland Kings can attract an equal number of men and women. She swears the value of cross training and evening running, because “you can have your own world”.
Albon is the defending trail running world champion and the two-time champion of the Skyrunning World Series. He said that he first used training to create the “biggest engine possible” through long-distance jogging. About 10 weeks before the game, he began to “adjust the engine”, by adjusting the training to reflect the speed and conditions of the event. Two weeks later, he took a break to “refuel”. “Build the engine, train the engine, refuel the engine,” he said. All this sounds very simple.
the next morning, The engine may be over-fueled by the Scottish cooked breakfast, we began to explore the second stage of the game: 32 miles from the village of Dalmally on Strath in Orchy, through the hilly, wooded terrain to the picturesque Loch Fyne. We descended quickly along the curved forest road. The ground tilts to our right, and the view extends to the top of the tall trees in the distance.
Since the promised chef only made reservations for the event itself, we switched to lunch at the original Loch Fyne restaurant, which has been selling oysters by the water since 1978 and has opened 21 outposts across the UK. I think wine may not be suitable for afternoon runs on the rugged island of Aran, but the whole brown crab is fresh and delicious.
I asked Smith if he thinks gourmet food and single malt whiskey are really suitable for supercars. He insisted that they could. He said that for decades, wealthy thrill seekers have combined extreme skiing in remote mountains with luxury accommodation, so why not run?
In the past ten years, road cycling in the UK has changed from a niche sport to what some people call the “new golf” sport-loved by competitive corporate executives who have the money to buy the latest equipment . Smith’s bet is that the supercar is next.
Starting from Lake Fern, the Highland Kings runners will travel south on the third day for 34 miles, mainly coastal routes, to Portavadie’s smart dock, and then take a speedboat across the Gulf of Clyde to Aran Island.
When we walked out of the port, the sea was almost flat. When the helmsman pressed the throttle, the engine on the pitch-black Stormforce Rib roared, and soon we passed the water.
Alan is amazingly beautiful. When we docked at the pier, the unique Scottish bagpipes greeted us there, echoing around the picturesque waterfront. The island is often described as the epitome of Scotland. Otters and seals like to hunt along the rugged coastline; golden eagles can be seen soaring over its spectacular mountains.
The empty Lochranza Castle by the water was built in the late 1200s by the son of the Scottish lord Sven “the Red” and marked the beginning of the final phase of the race: 28 miles, 6,000 feet up, and across Goatfell, the highest peak on the island.
The next day, we sampled two parts of the route: a heart-pounding run from Brodick village, along the breathtaking Glen Rosa and a rapid descent through Dougari Manor, which was in 1865 Left and right are the sports hut built by the 11th Duke of Hamilton, reaching the finish line on the west coast of Arran.
Smith said that the last day will be a real test, adding that the prospect of a banquet hosted by the famous explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes last night should help the runners cross the finish line.
One morning, when we chatted on the phone to discuss his involvement, Fiennes, now 77, told me: “Always fight the faint voice in your head-this is the secret.”
Fiennes knew a thing or two about motivation. During an unsupported trek through the Antarctic Continent of Vietnam, he lost 25 kilograms in 90 days while dragging 220 kilograms of food and equipment. He said that he consumes 7,000 calories a day, but Superman’s efforts mean that his weight is still falling.
In order to keep himself on the polar expedition, he often imagined his two most respected people, his father and grandfather, both of whom died before he was born, watching him as he crossed the ice. “I don’t want to be the first person in the group to give up, but I want to do it,” he said. “So I’m in the tent every night… I’m looking around the other people in the group, hoping that one of them will give up so that I won’t be the first.”
Fiennes, a true undefeated circuit enthusiast, if he is about ten years younger, whether he will sign up for the Highland Kings game, I’m not sure. But for those who combine Fiennes’ adventurous spirit with an appreciation of the good things in life, Smith’s game promises to bring a unique experience and may allow you to appreciate the next big trend in adventurous travel .
Tom Wilson is the guest Highland King. The first Highland Kings Ultra will be held from April 25th to 29th, 2022.The admission fee is £15,499 and is limited to 40 people; so far, about a quarter of the places have been booked
follow @ftweekend Get to know our latest story first on Twitter