Take The River Ayr Way Challenge
This scenic ultra has plenty of reasons to take your running to the next level...
With more than two months still to go until race day, there's plenty of time to get ready for this year's River Ayr Way Challenge (9 September). An annual 40 mile ultra-marathon, the event is often referred to as the RAW Challenge and it has been a consistently popular event in the Scottish Ultra Marathon series since its inception in 2006.
The race is certainly a hit with Scottish ultra racers, but it has also proved to have wider appeal having attracted runners from all over the country thanks to its scenic course and slick organisation.
The River Ayr Way is Scotland’s first source to sea path network and it passes through some of Ayrshire’s most spectacular and varied scenery with an abundance of wildlife to be spotted as it runs from its source at Glenbuck Loch to the sea at Ayr. The route passes through areas steeped in history with links to many famous Scottish figures including Robert Burns, William Wallace, John Loudoun Macadam and many Covenanters. The route also has a wide range of habitat and visitors are likely to see wildlife such as otters, badgers, herons, hen harriers and much more.
As you would expect with a riverside course, this race is mostly off road with some small sections on quiet roads. The last five miles give those with some reserves in the tank a chance to stride out as they are all on tarmac!
If you're worried about support en route with such a lengthy distance, you needn't - there are water stations every 5 miles and fruit, cold drinks and a friendly welcome at checkpoints every 10 miles. And as the race finishes at Dam Park track in Ayr you can look forward to a stadium welcome as you cross the finish line - definitely a finish befitting of an ultra race champion!
If you'd love to be a part of the event, but worry that 40 miles is just a step (or two) too far, then there is a relay option. Organisers advise running in teams of three for this but it can be done with a team of two if that's your preference.
In 2022, Liam Mills of Bowland Fell Runners won the ultra race in 5:38:29 while the first relay team home was Run For Fun in 4:53:36, the team was made up of Stuart Murdoch, Stuart Caldwell and Iain McCulloch.
If you'd like to know more then visit the East Ayrshire Leisure website here.
Image: East Ayrshire Leisure