Rat racers hit by four seasons in disrupted event

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The weather badly disrupted the start of the twice postponed Rat Race Ultra Tour of Arran last weekend.

Cancellation of the last ferry from Ardrossan on Friday, due to weather conditions, left a number of the estimated 250 runners stranded on the mainland. As a result, organisers were forced to reschedule the Saturday run.

Gary Tompsett, one of the race organisers, explained: ‘The difficult weather meant many of our participants did not make it over but, thankfully, the remainder were on the 10.40am sailing on Saturday.

‘This meant our start from Brodick shore was pushed back from 8am till midday. Also, it was on a shortened island south course that did not reach Kildonan but turned at Glenashdale Burn.’

Held over two days, the Ultra Tour of Arran involves runners setting off from Brodick beach in a southerly direction on day one, on a shortened 21 miles of quiet paths, forest trails, some boardwalk sections, some tarmacadam and a great deal of forest dirt road sections.

Day two, a distance of 30 miles, was mainly all off road, heading north towards Lochranza and taking in the mountainous terrain of the Cock of Arran and North Sannox.

Due to Covid restrictions, there was no mass start this year but a staggered start and on the first day runners faced the added difficulties of torrential downpours and gusting winds which added to the already challenging demands of the mountainous route.

The weather on the second day offered little respite although runners did enjoy slightly better conditions with intermittent sunshine between the heavy showers and even some sleet on the higher routes.

Despite these challenges, the runners seemed unperturbed and spirits ran high on both days with many runners returning to the finish line soaking wet, and windswept, but with big smiles on their faces.

Over the weekend, the runners were based at a tented village at Ormidale Park which also had communal marquees for food and drink as well as entertainment.

Gary told competitors on social media after the event: ‘A huge congratulations to each and every single one of you for taking on the Ultra Tour of Arran this weekend.

‘You’ve been thrown all four seasons in one weekend on top of some tricky terrain, bogs, river crossings and some brutal mountain ascents. We hope those insanely beautiful views made every step worth the pain and that you have fallen in love with Arran just as much as we do every time we return here.’

The Rat Race Ultra Tour of Arran was first held in 2018 and proved so successful that it became an annual event among the 52 other racing events hosted worldwide by Rat Race Adventure Sports. It will return to Arran in April 2022.


Runners in kilts set off at the start of the race on day one which involved a staggered start of small groups.

Runners in kilts set off at the start of the race on day one which involved a staggered start of small groups. 01_B41ratrace01

An appropriately dressed group of runners set off in the rain with very wet conditions underfoot. 01_B41ratrace02