Fort William Runduro review & analysis

Fort William was, until this weekend, uncharted territory for me. I’d never been to the Outdoor Capital of Scotland, not that I’d needed the excuse, but the opportunity to check out a new place and a new type of event was too good to pass up.

No Fuss Events’ Runduro is a very interesting, fun event; full of beautiful scenery, socialising and there’s a bit of running in there too.

Panorama of Runduro Stage 2 and mountain range from Cow Hill in Fort William

Some of the beautiful scenery from the start of Stage 2

What is a Runduro?

The format of a Runduro was completely new to me before this event, I’d never heard of any other event like it. A crossover from the Enduro biking race setup, the Runduro is a foot race comprised of multiple timed stages, separated by transition phases which do not count toward your overall completion time.

There’s no gun start, you roll up to the start at some point in a defined 1-hour window, tap your wristband against the electronic timing device and head off.

We reached the start line only a short while after the advertised opening time, but there was already a sizeable crowd of keen runners making their way over the top of the first hill. Still, the marshal at the gate advised; “No rush. Start in your own time.”

Who goes to a Runduro?

A cosy 95 people started the race, of which more than half were females (52.7%). The race directors have organised competitors into three groups; Seniors (SEN), Veterans (VET) and Senior Veterans (SVET).

No Fuss Events Runduro 2018: Who took part

Females outnumber males in all but one category, with only Senior Veterans fielding more males. This is worth noting, as many races tend to see a majority male field, you don’t often see races with more females than males.

Strategic racing

Aside from the overall time cutoff, there’s no limit to how long you can take to transition from one finish line to the next start line. Mixing timed and untimed segments allows for strategic approaches to running, do you maximise intensity by easing off during the transitions, or go for the proverbial tortoise approach and hold a steady pace to avoid burnout?

Some stages are almost entirely uphill, while others (including my favourite, stage 2) are mostly downhill. Conserving energy for the stages where you’re most comfortable seemed like a good idea. On the day, I did some moderate effort on the uphills (never been my strong suit), and gave it full blast on the downhill sections.

Taking each of my stage times, and the relative ranking position at each stage, I’ve put this into a chart:

No Fuss Events Runduro 2018: My own ranking at each stage

Bonus points for spotting the uphill sections! After a very slow start on Stage 1 (King o’ the Hill), I had a short breather while jogging towards the next stage (The Descender). Recuperated, I ran as hard as I could down the long downward slopes, off the hills and into the forest tracks. Catching people on the way down, my time for this section was the 3rd quickest of the day 🤘🤩.

Photo of Runduro Stage 5: To Hell & Back, the first climb before Ben Nevis

Stage 5: To Hell & Back

Compare that to the relentless uphill struggle of Stage 5 (To Hell and Back – including the steepest climb of the race), where I got to the 26th. 400ft of elevation gain up the foot of Ben Nevis, with grades as steep as 28% 😅. The way back down wasn’t much easier, a face plant into the gravel left me with a pair of scabby palms 🤗.

Seeing this range in stage performances got me interested to see where the category leaders had made ground on their peers. Had they followed my plan and smashed downhill sections, or are they multi-talented runners as adept at the climbs as they are on the way down?

To visualise this, I grouped runners by gender and category, and plotted each individual’s time difference from their category leader for each stage:

No Fuss Events Runduro 2018: Where did category winners make their time

The horizontal line at the zero axis on each plot is the category winner (they’re zero minutes from the category best). Other lines are individuals, with gaps between them and the leader gradually widening over the course of the race.

We see here how certain stages have proved particularly effective for the category leaders to gain ground on the peers. As the lines get steeper, the more time they’ve gained in each section.

A pattern emerges of the leaders gaining the most time on Stage 5 (Up, Up and away!). I had not expected this, I had imagined that Stage 4 (Hell and Back) would have been the making of their gains. The steep inclines must have drained everyone! Stage 5 was a long, long forest path on what initially felt like a comfortable gradient, but it just keeps going and going. Looks like the speedier feet in the race has made light work of this Stage, evidently one of the toughest in the event.

Racing performances

As we’ve seen, some very quick runners have chalked up some very fast times. The winning time was set by 👏 Calum Oates 👏, a Male Senior runner, with just 55m29s on the clock. The first female, 👏 Keri Wallace 👏, was just 10 minutes later at 65m24s.

The median time for the overall field was just over 85 minutes.

Breaking down the field across their categories, we see a host of strong performances.

No Fuss Events Runduro 2018: Category performance summary

Summary

I really, really enjoyed this event. The fresh format kept it engaging, the scenery was absolutely stunning (and made me glad of having a few walking stages to take advantage of a few tourist opportunities!) and plenty of chat with other runners during the transition stages made it quite unique, it’s not often you get to have a full blown conversation with a person during a race.

Race data

Distance12 miles (including untimed transition stages)
ResultsNo Fuss Events’ Fort William Runduro 2018 results
StravaFort William Runduro 2018 on Strava

Analysis & visualisations made with RR: A software environment for statistical computing and graphics