Sunday, 3 May 2009

Highland Fling 2009

On Saturday the Highland Fling took place up the lower part of the West Highland Way form Milngavie to Tyndrum, with a new format of individuals, teams and relay teams in all categories it seen numbers boost from 70 the year previous to around 400 this year. Female, Female Vets, Female Super Vets and Male Super Vets all had a 6am start given them a 15hr cut off time.
Next up was Male and Male Vets starting at 7am given a 14hr cut off time with the relay teams starting at 8am. Taking the next step I was heading into the unknown having only raced 43miles in the Devil O the Highlands the year previous, the extra 10 miles would be a real challenge. My game plan was to cover a steady 5mph which seem to work well in the early stage as I past Drymen at 12miles in 2hrs.12mins. The next section would see runners climb over Conic Hill

to Balmaha with the route to Rowardennan thrown up some cheeky hills, I arrived at Rowardennan in 5hrs.40mins. Taken a 20min rest and to take on food and a change of clothes the weather had turned into a fine warm day which seem to affect some runners. In leaving Rowardennan on the 6hr mark, I had allowed 4hrs to reach Beinn Glas some 13miles away, along what can only be described as “Hell on Earth” and was only fit for mountain goats.
Feeling low at this point I managed to pass about a dozen runners all struggling to cope with the condition under foot and press on to Beinn Glas in 9hrs.52mins. Stopping for some much need food I pushed on given myself 4hrs to complete the last 12 miles. At 44miles the good old Scottish weather did its best to hamper me further with a hail and rain storm which enforced a rescue call to my support team for dry clothes. After a quick change at the side of the A82 and with only 8 miles to go, I gave one last effort to complete the race before the cut off time of 14hrs but as is the norm in these races the route is never the most direct one and with a couple of more hills and bends I was greeted by a well wisher “500 to go” and the finish line was in sight and completing the race in 13hrs.25mins. “This race is not for the faint hearted but its a great race all the same. Its the hardest Ultra I have done to date and will be back to do it again. Just for the records the winner was Jez Bragg setting a new course record 7hrs.19mins.