It’s becoming increasingly de rigueur in trail race organiser circles to set up shop along multi-day hiking trail routes. It makes sense really. Take a sprinkle of well-maintained, well-marked singletrack and a dash of pristine countryside, and off you go! The fact that it takes Joe Soap five days of hard hiking slog to complete doesn’t put off your average trail race organiser. Indeed no, the longer the better. Otter, Giant’s Cup, PUFFER, Hobbit 90 – all these fabulous (dare I say it, iconic) races wind their merry way along some of the country’s most beautiful and challenging hiking routes.
Decades ago, it would’ve been considered positively irresponsible to suggest pushing people through a multi-day hiking trail in a couple of hours. Yet, this is exactly what is being done, and the Merrell Whale of Trail is no exception.
SPEEDSTERS AND REPEATS
When running these ultras, it is important to constantly remind yourself that you are doing something quite extraordinary. Not only are you moving through some of the most beautiful wilderness areas (which is, on its own, an immense privilege), you are doing so much faster than most mere mortals.
Some of the country’s top athletes took part in this year’s event. As a result, records were convincingly obliterated. The top guns gobbled up the kilometres, and left many stunned – a bit like when the Otter sub-four hours was achieved in 2015