Tuesday, 30 June 2015


To say I had an ideal run up to the race would be lying. Training and racing in the previous few months had been as good as I could have done with the time available and the only niggling doubt in my mind was the lack of hill training but I managed to convince myself it was only a gentle climb towards Fort William, all 95 miles of it. Sunday prior to the race I met James Stewart for an easy trail run which somehow managed to derail my fitness in one tumble. I tripped on a tree root and landed side on in a muddy heap with my right hand side taking a battering from shoulder to ankle. At first it didn't feel too bad but as the days towards race start approached it was still niggling away. A bit of massage eased most of the problem but my hip was still a little bruised but not too bad to prevent a race start.

So to Friday and my plan was to go to work early, do a few hours and then head home and try and get a few afternoon hours of sleep. That didn't go too well as on the way to work my eyes started flickering and the first signs of a migraine had begun.Why today of all days? I managed 2 hours work and gave up and headed home and lay down for a few hours dozing in and out of sleep but feeling really sick. Fortunately come 6ish I was feeling almost human and managed my dinner and final race preparation and headed off to pick up Duncan and drive to Milngavie to register.

Registration only took a few minutes although maybe it took longer for some with Sarah on weighing duties trying to convince the guys it would be best stripping off to underpants to get a more accurate reading. We then headed up to Marks house for a final brief and coffee then down for race start at 1.00am Saturday morning. No matter how nervous you get at the start it all seems to disappear when you get caught up meeting and greeting friends who have all been planning this one night for months and months, it truly is a wonderful atmosphere and exciting event to be part of.

Listening to the race brief

The weather, of which there was some , could not have been kinder. I ran a relaxed easy first section through Drymen and on to Balmaha  making sure I didn't come a cropper coming down Conic Hill as a couple of others had unfortunately done by the looks of it. I won't bore you blow by blow stuff but through the next 20 odd miles to Beinglas I had what must have been my most pleasant time on the route and came in to Beinglas on schedule for sub 20hours. Conditions underfoot had been wet at a few points so I asked Mark and Duncan to prepare for a full pit stop at Auchtertyre. This all went fine after checking in and getting weighed (1kg down).

Celebrating reaching Bridge of Orchy in one piece

With fresh shoes and top I headed off on the section where I lost a lot of time two years ago but this year was a lot better with my legs still working away and my mind in a better place. I crossed Rannoch Moor in altogether better frame of mind and got to Glencoe checkpoint a lot quicker. Next up was the Devils Staircase and this hurt, it hurt a lot. My lack of hill running bit back big time here, although there were 3 other runners ahead of me on the climb and they didn't look to be moving much faster so a little consolation. It is only a short distance over to Kinlochleven but rather tricky underfoot and the descent gives the quads a hammering but it passed quickly and I reached the final checkpoint  still running. A quick weigh in and thumbs up as I was only 1kg down in weight from the start and I was out the leisure centre door and on my way again. Duncan decided he fancied a run and so decided to accompany me to Lundavra. His last run on this section was about 10 years ago on his WHW Race where he recollects rocks being sheep and just wanting to lie down and sleep. None of that today as sub 20 was still on and I just wanted to get the climb done and get running along the Lairig Moor.

Start of Devils climb

Photo by Patricia Carvalho Photography

After what seemed an eternity we finished the climb and managed a steady tempo towards Lundavra with a quick stop for a glass of Tizer at Jeffs mountain rescue oasis.

Mark met us at Lundavra and he ran the final section with me, me telling him it is 5 miles and him arguing it was 7 to go. Turns out he was correct. I aimed to get to the top of the fire road by any means and then run till the finish. In my mind we were 7 minute mailing but I think in reality it was 9 minutes, but nonetheless I ran it all and crossed the finish line in 19 hrs 37mins 40secs .

So a good day at the office and another PB for the year. Nutrition wise I still cannot eat any solid food on the run but the butternut squash/sweet potato soup Linda prepared for me and Muller rice seem to fuel me through the race. I did feel rather guilty with my checkpoint strategy of not stopping and just eating on the way through, utilising the rule of support crew being allowed to walk with you a quarter mile before and after but Mark and Duncan were great with this and can't thank them enough for their support throughout the race.

There are so many people involved in the organisation of the race I don't know where to begin with thanks so to all of the folk involved many many thanks, the support from entry in December to the prize giving at the end is unique and fully appreciated by this runner even though the odd grimace may not relay that sentiment entirely.

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