It’s been 3 years since the last Montane Cheviot Goat Ultra took place in winter, following the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the devastating damage of Storm Arwen last year. It was, therefore, with a big sigh of relief that this year's event managed to go ahead as planned. Cue a whirlwind weekend of boggy fun…
Based in the wild Cheviot Hills of Northumberland, this 24-hour event pushes ultra runners' limits on extremely remote trails. It’s such a remote and sparsely populated route that it’s even earned the race the title of the ‘UK's loneliest ultra’. We discover more about the route in our dedicated origins story.
With sub-zero temperatures and snowfall predicted during the day, this challenging ultra was ready to remind racers exactly what they had been missing! This year also included a slightly altered route (extended by 2 miles) to include a short toe dipping into Scotland for the first time.
Donald Campbell claimed first place in the men’s event, with Nicky Spinks taking first place in the women’s event. Campbell crossed the finish line with a time of 10 hours 29 minutes, ahead of Ellis Bland (10 hours 57 minutes) and Daniel Weller (10 hours 58 minutes) in second and third place.
In the women’s event, renowned runner Spinks finished in 13 hours 34 minutes, just under an hour ahead of the experienced Sabrina Verjee in second place (14 hours 22 minutes) and Vicky Savage finishing at 14 hours 39 minutes.
As for our #TeamMontane runners, Howard Dracup claimed 21st place with a time of 13 hours 35 minutes, while friend of Montane, Rob Greenwood, crossed the line in joint fifth place, with a time of 12 hours 29 minutes. Although towing the start line, fellow Montane athlete Montana Hull sadly had to DNF part way through. We look forward to seeing more of her in 2023 once recovered.
Having taken on the Spine North Challenger racer earlier this year, as well as the Cape Wrath Ultra, #TeamMontane’s Howard Dracup couldn’t wait for this staple of the trail running community to return. Keep reading to hear how he got on during the race…
The Montane Cheviot Goat Ultra
I took on the Cheviot Goat this year for a few reasons. The main reason was to use it as a test to see where I am fitness-wise and also use the race as a fun way to build some endurance, ready for races in 2023. The race appealed to me because I like that kind of terrain and the self-sufficient style of support you need to be able to compete the Cheviot race, in any weather in winter!
With that in mind, I knew I was going to need a waterproof jacket that was going to keep me dry in potentially the worst weather imaginable! Taking the wrong jacket could cause me to DNF or, worst case scenario, cause a fatality. The Cheviot Hills are very remote and exposed, so having the right jacket was going to be one of, if not the most important part of kit I needed that day. So it was a very easy choice for me to make and I took the Phase Lite.
Essential Kit for the Cheviot Trails
The Phase Lite Waterproof Jacket is made from GORE-TEX active. It’s tough and robust but light, extremely waterproof and highly breathable, making it a great choice for the Montane Cheviot Goat Ultra. Because it was so light and breathable, I could wear it while moving well and not get too hot and sweaty. It also has a great hood with a wire peak. I chose the Flame Orange colour which looks fantastic!
I combined the Phase Lite with the Minimus Waterproof Pants, the Fireball Lite Jacket, a Thermo Dart Base Layer, some Dragon Trail Tights, Via Trail Gloves, a Protium Beanie Hat and some Prism Dryline Mitts. All of that kit was my lifeline; it was a great winter layering system.
On the day, the weather wasn’t actually too bad; it was just cold if you stopped moving, so most of the day I just had the hat, the Thermo Dart base layer, the leggings and some gloves on.
Putting the Phase Lite through its paces
30 miles in, going up to The Cheviot, a big snow cloud came in, the wind picked up and it went really cold so I put the Phase Lite Jacket on. I was really, really impressed! It blocked out the cold wind and protected me from the elements. It got colder as we hit the summit and the snow cloud turned into a mini blizzard and the jacket did a great job of keeping me at a nice temperature. I wasn’t too hot and I certainly wasn’t cold.
I was running pretty fast so I was keeping myself warm and the breathability of the fabric stopped me from sweating and overheating. As the day went by, I was hit with different kinds of weather, depending on what height I was at. On the summits it was snowing and freezing with the wind causing temperatures to feel like -9. When I was lower, it was raining on and off. We even had some sun. All in all, it was ace!
I’m 6ft 3 with quite long arms and the large jacket was a perfect fit for me. It was fitted and had enough space underneath for an insulated mid layer. My favourite feature has to be the material! The 30 denier GORE-TEX active fabric was so good at keeping me dry whilst having awesome breathability, stopping me from getting too hot, allowing me to keep the jacket on and not have to keep stopping to take it off when the rain subsided!
Some other handy features are the adjustable wrist cuffs. These allowed me to adjust the sleeves at the wrist so that the jacket sealed around my arm but left my GPS watch exposed so I could see it. Another great feature was the hood. It had a strong wire peak and adjustable cinches at the front so I could close off the gap to stop the elements hitting my eyes and there was also another cinch at the back which allowed me to take any excess slack out of the hood so it didn’t bellow in the wind.
As part of his Cheviot Goat kit, Howard wore and reviewed the Phase Lite Waterproof Jacket. This is also available for women. For more kit inspiration, see our suggested kit to take on an event such as the Cheviot Goat Ultra.
For those eager for more tales of endurance from the trails, we return to the Cheviots in January 2023 for the renowned Montane Winter Spine Race. Keep your eyes peeled for more information coming soon, including which of the #TeamMontane racers will be taking part.