athletics Hall sets out for new Cape Wrath record
Box ultra running star Damian Hall is attempting an audacious record-breaking attempt in Scotland this weekend. Starting on Saturday morning the former Running Bath/chronicle competition winner and running partner Beth Pascall, one of Britain’s leading female long-distance runners, will line up to run the Cape Wrath Trail from Fort William to the north western outreaches of Scotland. In a self-sustaining effort the pair are aiming to complete the 230 miles and around 12,000 metres of climbing through one of the biggest wildernesses in the UK inside the current record time of seven days and nine hours. “The Cape Wrath trail goes through a very remote area of the country with virtually no mobile phone signal and crossing just a handful of roads,” said Hall, who works as a freelance journalist specialising on the outdoors in Bath. “If we get into trouble with the weather, illness or injury we would face a least half a day’s walk to get to a road and then we still might not see anyone for ages. “It is an exciting challenge but also a very daunting one as we get closer to starting it. “At this time of year the weather is very unpredictable and that far north we will only have six or seven hours of daylight. “Hopefully it will stay cold and dry as that will be easier for running. If it gets very wet then it becomes even more difficult as running in wet shoes is not good. “Also, we have several river crossings and after heavy rain they can swell and become pretty dangerous, so we cannot afford to be too gung-ho or silly about it. It is going to be a tough one that’s for sure.” Hall and Pascal won’t even carry tents, aiming to use the Scottish bothies, which are basic shelters left unlocked and available for anyone to use free of charge, along the way. “We’ll carry our own bivvy bags as back-ups plus a stove to brew up tea plus provisions, and hopefully we can get things as well along the way,” added Hall. The record attempt is classed as an FKT Challenge – a fastest known time challenge - as against a Guinness world record bid due to the nature of the terrain and difficulties in accurately monitoring the attempt. “Verification of an FKT attempt is obviously less stringent that a Guin- ness record attempt as we are going through such remote areas, but we will be wearing GPS watches, from which the data will be independently verified afterwards and people can track our progress live as well,” explained Hall. “The attempt is really to showcase that you can still enjoy adventure, whether in winter or summer, in some really remote areas in Britain. “I think people believe we are a small, over-crowded island but hopefully this will show otherwise. It will be a great adventure and hopefully we can beat the record.” If so it will be Hall’s second longdistance record as a few years ago he also broke the best time for completing the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path. ■ The Bromham Christmas Pud 10k served up a festive treat for James Donald as the Team Bath runner not only made the podium but also celebrated a personal best. Donald led home a trio of Team Bath runners as he crossed the line third in a time of 34mins 21secs, slicing 17 seconds off the time that he set over the same course last year with Thomas Davies clocking a season’s best of 34:32 just behind him. “I was really pleased with the PB as earlier in the week I had been ill and wasn’t sure whether I was going to run or not,” said Donald. “I think the rest actually did me good as on the day I felt okay.” It proved a good day all round for the club as teenager Freya Spruit was runner-up in the women’s race with Laura Backhouse third. In addition, Jo Thompson claimed the over-60s prize. Likewise David Vaudin was first male veteran over-60 and Simon Brace was second in the M45 age category. ■ The indoor season is already underway and Team Bath’s young sprinters Femi Akinbobola and Duncan Game headed to London for the Lea Valley December open meeting. Under-20 athlete Akinbobola ran a personal best time of 7.25secs in his semi-final of the 60m and Game, who is an under-17, clocked 7.38. Akinbobola also recorded a PB of 37.24 to win his 300m and there were further PBS for Mcdonagh (39.35) and Joel Mattacks (42.23). Michael Mcdonagh also ran a PB of 7.69 and in the U15s 60m, Luke Game clocked a PB of 8.52, and then later added a PB of 4.30m in the long jump. Zoe Mattacks ran 8.59 in the senior women’s 60m. Elsewhere, for Team Bath at Cardiff, there was a win for Eleanor Webster in the 300m in 45.82 and bests for Gemma Baker in the U17 200m (30.75), Josie Rucker in the U15 200m (30.15), Alex Knight in the U15 300m (44.06), Nynka Rucker in the U15 300m (46.81), Caitlin Mander in the U15 high jump with 1.36m, Alice Wilson in the U15 long jump (4.70m) and Eleni Francis in the U15 triple jump with 10.01m, which is a new club record. ■ The University of Bath hosts the Tri-counties Cross Country Championships – comprising Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire - on Sunday but the fixtures clashes with the third Gloucestershire League race which is a prime target for Team Bath’s senior runners. A year ago, Alex Parsons won the U15 boys’ race and Will Crudgington was U20s champion. Jade Littlechild was third in the combined U20/17 women’s race so the club will be hopeful of featuring among the medals in the younger age groups. ■ University of Bath student John Millar has been selected to represent Great Britain at the European Crosscountry Championships in Tilburg, The Netherlands, on Sunday. It will be a first British vest for the mathematics student, who will compete in the U23 category and has been in fantastic form this winter. Having secured top-five finishes at British Athletics Cross Challenge events in Cardiff and Milton Keynes, Millar booked his European spot by placing sixth in his age group and 15th overall at the GB trials in Liverpool. Millar is part of the University’s student athletics squad coached by Colin Bovell at the Sports Training Village.
Damian Hall will be seeking another ultra-distance record on the Cape Wrath Trail
Team Bath AC runners at the Bromham Christmas Pud 10k