Will’s Jura Jaunt

Race report from William Imrie, who secured a last minute entry to the famous Jura Fell race and made a mad dash across by ferry and bike to join fellow BARFer and Jura veteran Trevor Wilson on the start line. Well done guys! Arf arf!

AWESOME, FANTASTIC, UNBELIEVABLE, SUPERB, MIND-BLOWING!! Just some of the  superlatives that I would use to sum up my first visit to the Isle of Jura Fell Race. This event is so  different to any mountain races that I’ve undertaken previously, the terrain is unique within the UK.  

From the start along a gravel lane, through a bog, across open mountain terrain until hitting the  piles of scree that form the three Paps of Jura, with more open mountain running before the final  dreaded 3 mile flat tarmac coast road section to the finish, this race has it all. 17 miles and 2000  meters of ascent (and descent!), it’s an awesome event. 

There’s a header who keeps posting about this event on the B.A.R.F. site every year so I thought  that I’d go and see first hand what it’s all about – I wasn’t disappointed! 

Entries opened in January, my application didn’t make the initial cut for the 250 permitted entrants  but was placed on the reserve list. I heard nothing more until the Wednesday before race day, when the organisers offered me a place. Despite having completed the Annalong Horseshoe the  previous weekend, the offer of a place in the race was too good to pass over and was accepted.  Frantic booking of ferries, stuffing all my camping kit into a rucksack, pumped the tyres up on my  bike and was off, arriving on Jura late Friday afternoon after two ferry crossings and 30 miles of peddle pushing (not flat terrain)! Tent pitched, fish supper from the cafe and all ready to go. 

Race day weather was overcast at first, sunshine later with a bit of mist and wind before the sun  appeared again – no rain, good visibility, perfect! 10:30 start to the swirl of bagpipes and the  adventure starts!  

The first three checkpoints were all on open mountain, good visibility so no need for map and  compass at this stage. After checkpoint 3, turn right and you are at the high side of a valley, with  the first Pap directly in front of you, a mind blowing sight. Drop down into the bottom of the valley  then it’s the hardest and longest ascent of the day to the top of The first Pap – the scree was  encountered about half way up. Never having been on such terrain previously, I proceeded  cautiously but amazingly soon got used to it and was soon at the summit. The descent of the first  Pap was through steep scree fields – definitely an experience!

The photos don’t really show the true gradient of these slopes.  

Then up and down Pap No.2 (very) steep descent through scree – hint, keep your legs moving and  don’t fall!. Then another steep climb to the summit of Pap no.3, reached by a rocky ridge, which  narrowed the further along I went, with steep drops either side. The wind had got up to quite a  breeze at this stage so much care was needed! Then the descent of Pap No. 3, real scree riding  involved!, awesome experience! 

Finally out of the scree, one last ‘normal’ climb, descent, river fording then a mile of bog before  hitting the final checkpoint and the 3 mile run home on the flat tarmac. Finished in 5 hrs 20 mins,  happy with that. 

Will and Trevor

Time for a beer with this BARFer before back to the tent for a good night’s sleep. 

Early start for the ferry run, home for dinner and plenty of time to reflect on the experience. Would  thoroughly recommend for all others to run this race – it’s AWESOME!