It all began when Helen opened a box labeled “Westies Archives – From the Golden Era” and found inside a faded parchment describing a mythical relay route from George Square to Fort William. avoiding almost entirely the new-fangled West Highland Way. A reduced version of the route quickly became the basis of the Extravaganza Eating, Drinking and Planning Committee’s 2016 proposal, taking care as it did of most of the Planning part of the meetings. All that remained was to select a date, randomly sort names into teams and select three Team Captains to work out the actual details.
Some robust accommodation was booked in Tyndrum for the Friday night, and the teams assembled at the Real Food Cafe for a nutritionally balanced meal, followed by some final hydration tuning at the Tyndrum Inn before staggering gracefully back to the bunks for a restful night’s sleep.
Reverie sounded at 5am, and we awoke to a dusting of snow outside the huts. The first leg runners were dressed and almost ready to go by the scheduled 6am start. The customary confusion of “Which way to we go?” subsided, and the five elite runners set off into the hills. Leg 1 proved to be a little longer than expected, but the five eventually emerged unscathed at Derrydaroch and start of the second leg. An uneventful second leg handed over to the prepped and ready leg 3 runners. Leg 3 took the course across Glen Gyle, leaving the support crew to make the long drive around to Stronachlachar. Paula drew short straw for Simon’s Land Rover, and, after some hasty coaching from Niall, drove the entire hour and a half route in Low Range.
From Stronachlachar the legs followed around Loch Katrine, Loch Chon and Loch Ard before heading south toward Drymen Road. Team Lomond had established a healthy lead at the start of this leg, but sportingly decided to even things up by running back into the forest just before they reached the end of their leg. Teams, now even, kept pace across a short but muddy leg to Loaninghead and along the road section to Killearn. From Killearn, the route swung around beneath Dymgoyne – with noone on this leg interested in picking up bonus points for climbing to the top. Fleet footed Niall reached the final checkpoint at Blanefield with a substantial lead, handing over to Aron with certain victory in sight. However, that was not to be, with an unexpectedly tricky last leg allowing Team Katrine to sneak past for a comprehensive victory.
Refreshments followed at the Hutchinsons, where food and drink appeared seemingly from nowhere and everyone enjoyed a relaxing evening.
Thanks to all who took part for making this such a special day, and in particular to the “extravaganza virgins” who embraced the (sometimes chaotic) spirit of the event with such enthusiasm. We look forward to a repeat performance again next year!