Well here I was again, the sixth time standing at the start of the WHW race, two Goblets were gathering dust at home, would there be a third? I was feeling calm; the last panic attack had been a few weeks previous, just the thought of the miles, the pain, and the tiredness. One o’clock and one hundred and ninety three runners ran through a tunnel, up some steps, past the shops and into the darkness, it had begun.
Within a mile, as we all headed through Mugdock, folks began to find their pace. Stuck the headphones on and drifted into a nice wee place. Soon past Drymen and into Garabhan, dawn brought some fantastic views as I headed Conic Hill. Looking up Loch Lomond you could see the day’s weather, high cloud and a refreshing breeze blowing down from the North. Dropped down into Balmaha and my mate Davie was waiting, a quick fill up of water and some rice pudding, it is vile stuff, but slides down well.
The run up to Rowardennan seems a bit of a blur now, once again just letting the mind wander off. Met Davie again at the end of the public road, water and something that looked like gourmet cat food, but needs must. Quickly off again and felt strong coming into Inversnaid, the legs were feeling good. I felt I was eating and drinking well and more importantly peeing on a regular basis.
Reached Beinglas and met Lorna, my wife and my nephew Oscar, a very quick fill up and away up Glen Falloch. Heading down into Strathfillan and the half way mark had been passed. At Auchtertyre checkpoint there was the second weigh-in, had lost weight! Told I had to eat and drink more.
So onwards through Tyndrum and up to the bealach. Stretching out ahead was the next twenty miles taking you to the lower slopes of Meall a’ Bhuridh and some of the best running on the Way. Down through Auch and along to the checkpoint at Bridge of Orchy, took it easy over the hill and down to the Inveroran. Pleasant run over Rannoch Moor, it is such a magical place. Coming into White Corries was greeted by a sea of camper vans and generators, the place was hoatching, there was a mountain bike championship on. Some more of that cat food, best of all Lorna was going to run with us for a while. A lot of the time you are running yourself so the company would be good.
On to Altnafeadh and up the Devil’s Staircase. Lorna loved it; having been sitting around waiting for me it was good to stretch her legs. Up and over and the Mamores were looking braw. The decent down into Kinlochleven remind me that there was another weigh-in, had I lost more weight. Could really feel it on the legs coming into the village. Thankfully had put weight on, very quick change and away again. This was it, the last stretch. Once out the woods that refreshing breeze revived me and the climb up to the bealach was bearable but the other side I could begin to feel the tiredness taking hold. It was the fact I had to concentrate on avoiding all the rocks and stones. Past the road to Lundavra, only six more miles but getting wearied. Into the woods and the hooting of owls and ahead the lights appeared in the sky! But it wasn’t the sky; it was the Beinn and folk coming down after watching the sunset on the longest day! Coming down into Glen Nevis my mind and body were tired but I was going to finish. Onto the road and up to the leisure centre and the finish. Within ten minutes I was in a sleeping bag and peace.
Fellow Westie Peter Harper ran a brilliant 19.50 (21st). The race was won by Paul Giblin in 14hrs 20 mins, just an incredible time! Thanks to my back-up crew, Lorna, Davie and Oscar.