Two Nova Scotia men have successfully completed one of the most challenging races in the world: the Cape Wrath Ultramarathon.

Last month, Cameron Campbell and Matt Hardy ran 400 kilometres over eight days through the highlands of Scotland.

“I love the idea of doing endurance and trail running because it’s about using your mental toughness and stubbornness to do something really challenging,” says Campbell.

The long-time friends signed up for the race in 2020, but had to wait until this year to participate due to COVID-19.

The race has a reputation for being the toughest ultramarathon in the United Kingdom, but this year, the unusually cold and wet weather made the event especially treacherous.

“It was rainy and cold and just really rough,” says Hardy. “The race director said it was the toughest Cape Wrath to date.”

This year, 270 people lined up on the start line, but only 104 crossed the finish line on day eight at the Cape Wrath lighthouse.

Organizers say the finishing rate is usually about 60 per cent, but this year, about 40 per cent of the runners finished. Cameron and Hardy, both age 35, were among the successful participants, but they both admit they were tempted to give up on more than one occasion.

“You're out there for 10 to 14 hours and there were a lot of times when I was like, ‘when I get to camp tonight, I'm going to quit, I can't do this again tomorrow,’” says Hardy.

After each day of competition, participants sleep in tents. They carry their own gear, water and food while running. The daily routes vary in length from 26 km to 72 km, all over treacherous terrain ranging from beaches to bogs to mountains.

“On some days, we were doing the equivalent of climbing a quarter or a half of Mount Everest back to back. It meant you really had to dig deep, mentally more so than physically,” says Campbell.

Both men say they were pushed harder than they ever imagined, but they are already training for their next ultramarathon in Cape Breton this August.