A Scottish gamekeeper and deerstalker who has only recently taken up running is about to tackle a 400km ultra race that follows a route through the estate that he works on.

Inspired by watching the action in previous years, David Fergusson will now toe the line with over 180 athletes from 19 different nations when the Cape Wrath Ultra starts in Fort William on Sunday, May 19. 

The sport of ultra-running has never been more popular and the Cape Wrath Ultra is one of the world’s most iconic events. Founded in 2016, participants in the race have eight days to complete a 400km journey through the Scottish Highlands, from Fort William to Cape Wrath at the north-westerly point of Great Britain.

Ultra-runners who take part face challenging terrain that links ancient footpaths and remote tracks through some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes, including Knoydart, Kintail, Torridon, Assynt and Sutherland.

READ MORE: Edinburgh dad running marathon for charity who helped daughter's rare eye condition

The race does not use any signs or waymarking to show the route and participants are required to use a combination of traditional navigational skills with a map and compass, supplemented by modern GPS technology if they wish.

Mr Fergusson is originally from Lochaline on the Morvern peninsula. After graduating with a biology degree, David studied gamekeeping and wildlife management and has gone on to be a deerstalker on various Scottish estates.

The 34-year-old is also a member of the Atholl Highlanders, the only private army in Europe, and gets involved at various parades, Highland gatherings, and other ceremonies.

Since 2020, Mr Fergusson has been estate manager and deerstalker at the Camusrory Estate at the head of Loch Nevis, where he lives with his wife Carol.

The Cape Wrath Ultra route passes through the estate and the couple has assisted the organisers with logistics for managing that. This has triggered David’s interest in running, and now in tackling the race himself.

The Herald: The Cape Wrath Ultra takes runners through remote Highland landscapesThe Cape Wrath Ultra takes runners through remote Highland landscapes (Image: Steve Ashworth)

Mr Fergusson said: “I have never participated in any formal running event before, but after helping and watching in recent years, decided to take the bull by the horns and register for the 2024 event.

"I’ve been training in extreme weather and conditions for a year now and am really looking forward to taking on the extreme challenge that the Cape Wrath Ultra offers through the dramatic Scottish landscape. 

“I have also decided to use the opportunity to run a fundraising page for Thunderbird Project, which is a charity that carries out research into sending drones into remote and difficult-to-reach mountainous areas with emergency medical supplies. The charity was set up by a fellow Atholl Highlander who sadly passed away last year, so it is a fitting tribute and close to my heart.”

The line-up for the Cape Wrath Ultra includes a mixture of leading athletes and participants who simply want to experience and complete the journey through some of Scotland’s most dramatic and remote landscapes.

READ MORE: Premature twin given 50% survival odds completes London Marathon in under four hours

At the front of the field, Bridget Glaister is expected to be competitive in the women’s race. She is an experienced ultra-runner and was second lady in the 2022 Dragon’s Back Race.

Meanwhile, in the men’s race, Tristan Stephenson is one to watch, after finishing second in the Arc of Attrition in 2022 and fourth overall in last year’s Dragon’s Back Race. Elsewhere, Barry and Natalie Dawson will be the first father and daughter to take on the event in the same year, while father and son Tim and Will Robinson will also be running,

The Cape Wrath Ultra will take place alongside the Cape Wrath Explorer, which allows participants to tackle part of the route each day. It is designed as a more accessible route into an iconic event for those who don’t think they can complete the full course, or are not yet ready to try that.

The 2024 Cape Wrath Ultra will begin in Fort William at 11am on Sunday, May 19 and the public will be able to follow the event’s live tracking, which will be available at www.capewrathultra.com.