Do you want to run the whole West Highland Way? Errr, yeah, why not. Ive run 35 miles before. Once. So Im sure it will be fine.
A few weeks later I find myself in Milngavie at midnight outside a lively night club. The inebriated locals were a bit confused. So was I…..
After a short briefing by the race organiser, Jim, the 80 starters were away. The head torches of the front runners could be seen already past Conic Hill as I was getting round there for sunrise. All was well, running with two friends and taking in handfuls of jelly babies. Reached Rowardennan on good form.
The wheels started to fall off a bit on route to Tyndrum. That section after Inversnaid! My feet were objecting and I was struggling to keep up with my friends who eventually went ahead at Beinglas. Luckily at this point I met another runner, Richard (top bloke), who was happy to set off together and take a steady pace.
John Hamer had kindly offered to support me, so I was looking forward to meeting him somewhere between Beinglas and Tyndrum. As well as dried pears from Waitrose (highly recommend!), John arrived with foot powder and socks- amazing! I was seriously having doubts that Tyndrum actually existed after a while….must be round the corner, ok the next corner….ages later……definitely one of these corners soon…. New respect to Fling finishers!
Off to Inveroran, this was an enjoyable section. Steady terrain, nice views. At the Inveroran checkpoint was the culinary highlight of beans and sausages. Shared with a million midges but totally worth it.
On route to Kingshouse Hotel John and I had a no-headtorch competition. Much to Richards confusion. I eventually caved and the headtorch went on! We arrived into Kingshouse Hotel around 01:00. I was a bit cold and wet at this point and I was leaving John there. Several people that weren’t carrying on were being shown to the bunkhouse. I consoled myself with some soup then pushed off into the night.
Going over the Devils staircase was surprisingly ok. I have heard the views from the top are spectacular. The reflection of the head torch in the fog was good too. Worth walking 28 hours for. Reached Kinlochleven at around 05:00, slept for 20 mins on a roll mat, got a cup of tea and booted out the door at 06:00.
Amazing what 20 minutes of sleep can do, was on great form. The feet were tolerating the situation enough to run most of the last 15 miles. Passed a few people on the way down the forest track. I am sure no one loves that last road section! Finally got into Fort William just before 10:00 to the other runners, supporters, my two friends and John. Richard came round the corner just inside the 35 hour cut off. So proud.
Definitely some ups and downs but something I’d recommend anyone to have a shot at.
My take home messages:
It is possible to eat too many jelly babies
You can never have too many Waitrose dried pears
Don’t massacre your own toes with tape
Beans and sausages: the food of champions
John Hamer is a legend
If you keep moving, you will get to the end!