Ben Nevis Race

Ben Nevis Race

The Ben Nevis Race has been run in its current form since 1937. It now takes place on the first Saturday in September every year, with a maximum of 600 competitors taking part on a first-come, first-served basis.

It starts and finishes at the Claggan Park football ground on the outskirts of Fort William, and is 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) long with 1,340 metres (4,400 ft) of ascent.

Record Holders

As of 2015 the records have stood unbroken since 1984, when Kenny Stuart and Pauline Howarth of Keswick Athletics Club won the men's and the women's races with times of 1:25:34 and 1:43:25, respectively.

Entry Requirements

Entry is restricted to those who are members of a bona fide Athletic Club and have completed three documented 'Grade A' hill races.


Due to the seriousness of the Ben Nevis mountain environment runners must carry full waterproofs, a hat, gloves and a whistle.

Time Restrictions

 Competitors who have not reached the halfway point within one hour and anyone who has not reached the summit after two hours is turned back. Additionally, competitors who do not complete the course in three hours 15 minutes will be refused entry to subsequent races.

History of Hill Running on Ben Nevis

The history of hill running on Ben Nevis dates back to 1895. William Swan, a hairdresser from Fort William, made the first recorded timed ascent up the mountain on or around 27 September of that year, when he ran from the old post office in Fort William to the summit and back in 2 hours 41 minutes.

The following years saw several improvements on Swan's record, but the first competitive race was held on 3 June 1898 under Scottish Amateur Athletic Association rules. Ten competitors ran the course, which started at the Lochiel Arms Hotel in Banavie and was thus longer than the route from Fort William; the winner was 21-year-old Hugh Kennedy, a gamekeeper at Tor Castle, who finished (coincidentally with Swan's original run) in 2 hours 41 minutes.

Regular races were organised until 1903, when two events were held; these were the last races for 24 years, perhaps due to the closure of the summit observatory in 1904. The first was from Achintee, at the foot of the Pony Track, and finished at the summit; It was won in just over an hour by Ewen MacKenzie, the observatory roadman. The second race ran from new Fort William post office, and MacKenzie lowered the record to 2 hours 10 minutes, a record he held for 34 years.

Further information:

The Ben Nevis Race Association