“It’s very unusual to have a dream race two years in a row…..” These words still echo in my ears, as first as disappointment but now after a week of reflection I’m finally realising what I put my body through. What is there to be disappointed in?
The build up to this years West Highland Way race again hadn’t gone perfectly smoothly, but I’m starting to realise that’s probably just the norm? How many of us do have the perfect run up for months of training? After the race last year I was 100% committed I was doing it again and going to try and run it faster. If you look back at my 2018 race report, I pretty much did have the dream race and remember thinking to myself on several occasions I was well overdue a low spell. The wheels did eventually start to fall off as Jo dragged me across Lairig Mor at a pace I never knew was possible having already ran 81 miles, but finishing in just over 21 hours was more than I’d ever imagined I was capable of, and now I wanted to push more….. Continue reading →
I crewed for Iona in the 2018 WHW, this was my first time “crewing” but being able to bring plenty of my own ultra-running experience to the fore, I was confident I could feed and encourage her no problem. That and the fact I was also accompanied by Neil MacNicol who is a better than average runner (and also Ionas coach). What makes a good crew? Personally I think having running experience and knowing your runner inside out are important. It is knowing what your runner needs without them communicating that to you.
2018 was a success and Iona was 4th female in a time of 21hours and 2 minutes. This was a superb time and both runner and crew were delighted, however as her own worst critic, she wanted better. Less than 24 hours after completing it, 2019 was agreed upon. Armed with new found confidence, the training kicked off in late 2018 with all road/trails/hills leading to Milngavie. Our friendship first blossomed at the 2016 WHW race when we were both racing it and ended up running the Loch section together. Since then we’ve become loyal training partners and crew for each other. Iona and I ran 20 hours of the Glenmore 24 race together last year so it’s safe to say we are pretty well acquainted with each other – the good, the bad and the ugly!
“Strong winds are expected to hit much of Scotland this weekend with the arrival of Storm Hannah.” (Herald Scotland, 25/04/2019). That’s not the weather report you want to see when you’re planning to run a 53 mile cross country ultra from 6am on the Saturday morning. However up until now the sun had always shined on Jonny Fling, no matter what the weather report said, so all would be alright on the day…wouldn’t it?
Somehow it was the end of April and Fling time again. How had that happened? Since my great run at Falkirk (also in pretty awful weather) in February, training had been up and down. My foot had hurt post-race so I’d had a bit of recovery from that, then I got the cold, followed by a horrific bout of sinusitis which knocked me for six, followed by ANOTHER cold… and then finally when training was almost back on track it somehow became time to taper for the race. Not ideal, but with the mantra of “what will be will be” going around and around in my brain and reminding myself that yes a good race could happen, but it was all just a warm up for the West Highland Way in June , I got around to planning, prepping, stressing, and eating before I was ready to hit the hay for my pre race 3 or 4 hours sleep. A bit more stressing came with the horrific weather forecast and 3 or 4 kit choice changes were made before I decided just to be brave and go with a skort but layer up with arm sleeves, a long sleeved top and swapped my lighter jacket for my OMM and thicker gloves. After all skin is waterproof, isn’t it? Continue reading →
The 100 mile barrier is the obvious next step up from the West Highland Way race, but until this year I hadn’t really seriously thought about doing it in the near future. I’m still quite young in terms of ultra-running and hope to have plenty more years of racing and adventures to come. However, when you meet inspirational likeminded people on your crazy journey, these idea come into play much more quickly that you could imagine. The 1st of April 2018 was when this ridiculous plan was hatched. Jo and I had travelled up to the North section of the West Highland Way for a big training run ahead of my WHW race in June. It had been the farthest both of us had run in quite a while; me coming back from injury and Jo getting her running mojo back after a brief dip having had a phenomenal 2017. We’d got up at ridiculous o’clock, watched the sunrise as we drove through Glen Etive, had perfect weather, a brilliant run and were totally inspired. We decided somewhere along the way that the huge distances in the races we were already doing that year (the WHW for me and the Great Glen for Jo) were not far enough, and we wanted to make it our aim to break the 100 mile barrier that year. That evening we both put out names on the Glenmore waiting list with a backup plan of running part of the Costal route supported by friends if we weren’t successful in getting in. The longer the wait, the more we really, really wanted in. We banked loads of miles, hills and even got in a wee practice run of running loops by going around and around and around Lochore Meadows for 6 hours taking in Harran Hill on each loop, which is a bit steeper than the hill on the Glenmore loop, but elevation is always good! Continue reading →
“I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue.” ― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
The West Highland Way Race 2018
TIME: 21 Hours 2 Minutes and 51 Seconds
OVERALL : 31st/198 finishers
GENDER: 4th/46 females
The West Highland Way race 2018 was a race unlike any other. Once again the magic of the race, along with 21 hours racing, being awake most of the day before added on to a few nights post race insomnia, has mangled my already fragile end of term brain. Trying to put it into words has been a struggle up until now, but I think the story is finally ready to fall out of my fingers… Continue reading →