Sunday 28 April 2013

Hoka Highland Fling 27 April 2013 - West Highland Way

Post race, post shower, post soup! Thanks RRSRT UK!

New 9 bar gear! Thanks 9bar!!
The Fling race follows the West Highland Way for 53 miles from Milngavie (just outside Glasgow) to Tyndrum, perhaps famous for the Green Welly Stop, or the acres of tarmac, Between Loch Lomond and Glencoe. The race is a linear route with water at the following distances and you can have a 'drop bag' transported to the final 4 distances. (Fill a bag with any supplies/food you want then it's there waiting for you)
I put 2 drop bags 44km and 66km although I had my Salomon waist pack with a few supplies.

Water stations/drop bags distances
The 6am start is quite an early one but the sun was out by then. I got up at 4.30 and had a couple of 9bars with some yoghurt and a banana and strawberry smoothie yum yum. That is all I actually ate until the finish (delicious soup!) A strong field and quite a popular race meant a decent paced start, the first 10 miles is pretty easy going on good trails and bits of country lane, infact the only bit that becomes a little  technical is along part of Loch Lomond towards the Northern end which is a bit rocky and has a few tree roots.

Start line
 After the start there was the lead pack staying quite close initially and then a smaller pack just behind then a decent few minutes gap. Running through the various check points there was quite a lot of support which was great and saw a few familiar faces which is always nice!

Running towards Conic Hill (25ish km in)
Conic Hill has a nice path up it, when I recced about a month ago this was all under snow and I was leaning at a crazy angle into the wind to prevent being blown over towards the top. On the descent of Conic Hill I felt a bit of a burning feeling under the ball of my foot which felt like a stone so slid the shoe off quick but nothing there. I wore my old Brooks which had been great shoes although have well and truly expired. I had spent a couple of weeks ordering some Mizunos (1 shop closed, 2nd shop turned out not to have my size, 3rd time lucky they arrived on the Monday with 5 days to the race) I decided not to gamble on wearing the new ones having only done 30-40 miles in them during the week in short runs. Sadly the Brooks chewed my foot up pretty good with their worn insides, so i'm missing a good big of skin on the ball of my left foot (this got very painful just under 40km in and caused me to adopt a funny stride which wasn't too good!)

Loch Lomond
Some great views to be had, the weather was ideal, in March on the recce run I couldn't actually see across the Loch most of the day! I got to the 44km Checkpoint and grabbed my drop bag, I didn't really want anything from it but thought I'd grab a  few Jbs. I didn't want to eat any and binned them before long. I didn't actually eat anything during the race but did have some sort of electrolyte sachet at 66km and had a Nuun tab in 2 bottles of water. In total I had those 3x 600ml and 1x 600ml of stream water. Energy levels were great throughout and I didn't need any of the snacks I had in my pack after all.

Heading into Tyndrum
 I was quite slow through the more technical bits after 50km any small movement of my foot was incredibly painful on the growing hole in the skin but after it opened back out on to good wide trails it became easier to manage. There is a section that takes a slightly muddy farm track leading up to the 75km mark but despite that the shoes were still cleaner at the finish than the start. The final 10k is mostly flat again through the trees then out along the river to the finish at the ByTheWay Hostel in Tyndrum where a bag piper and lots of enthusiastic supporters awaited!
Finish Straight
Although a few silly things made the race pretty uncomfortable (once my foot got cut up) I enjoyed the day and would love to go back and show what I can do there next time! Considering I took only 3 minutes longer when I did a practice run in the snow on the same course (at some points knee deep) last month I'm pretty disappointed with the time, but at the same time I am super happy with my fitness (a pity it didn't get really tested) and I'm happy that a few better decisions will create a massive improvement in a short space of time!

Finish line
 Eventually finishing in 8.37 14th place. I think there were 600 entrants, not sure how many finished. A really great race you should consider putting on your calendar! Thanks to 9bar for the race kit and Reverse Rett Syndrome Research Trust UK for the support!
Starting Tunnel at Milgavie Station approx 5.40am

1 comment:

  1. Mate 14th out if 600 is damn impressive. I know you'll be disappointed with your time though. You've got something to build on and will go back next time lessons learned. Carrying a small roll of Leukotape for hotspots will prevent any small issues getting bigger. Obviously swap your shoes but apart from that book your next race in and move on. Good effort mate. Rich