West Highland Way 2010 Race Report

Saturday 19th June 2010 – starting at 1am

95miles from Milngavie to Fort William
This was my fourth time of running this great race and was definitely one of the hardest. Even though I finished almost 2and a half hours slower than last year I’m as proud of this one as any other ultra I’ve done.
Like any good story there is a start, a middle and an end so here we go ….
I took Friday off work, spent the morning sorting our my gear, food and generally relaxing as much as possible. Donald and Stevie, my support team, called in at lunch time just to check over all the details for the race and then I went to bed for a couple of hours. I dozed and felt it was worth it.
Watched the second half of the USA-Slovenia game, had some tea (two bowls of lovely pasta – thanks Katrina) then settled down to watch the England-Algeria game. The hope for morale raising victory and performance didn’t materialise but at least it passed the time before we left at 11pm for Milngavie.
I felt relaxed and ready for the challenge ahead. We arrived about 11.35pm, registered, received my goody bag, was weighed, chatted to a few folk, did my video clip of the scene and then wandered back to the car to get my shoes on and get ready for the race to start.
At 12.30pm Sean gave the pre-race briefing and then we wandered over to the start. With a few minutes before 1am Adrian explained about how the race had been affected by Dario’s death. We then had a minute’s respectful applause which was just the right idea.
Milngavie to Drymen
This year I had a clear plan of wanting to go off steady. My aim was to get to Auchtertyre about 15-20mins slower than last year with the hope that I could slow down less over the second half of the race.
I was working on a silver and gold plan which called for between 2hrs and 2hrs 5mins to Drymen. I also wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught up running at someone else’s pace. I made sure that Sharon, Debs, Helen and a few others were ahead of me. I was looking forward to trying to catch them later on!
The first hour or so was just as I wanted except for one thing. I always make sure I try everything in training before using it in a race. I had decided a few weeks ago to work on average pace rather than time for my splits. Then a week ago I thought I’d use the virtual runner facility of my garmin 205.
I tried it out in last week’s trail race with Katrina and it worked well. It gave me 1k splits as they were on autolap. But when I came to my first mini-split at 2.14miles it didn’t restart the lap. I fiddled with it in the dark but after a while I realised that you can’t do manual laps when it’s on virtual runner.
So I switched that off but it still didn’t let me do autolaps. So I set it to autolaps every 3miles and decided this may be a good thing for me anyway!
I was running with various folks through the run to Drymen including Gavin who seemed to be going well and was also determined to start steady. One person seemed to be right with me from the start. He had an orange top and wore an ipod, often singing to himself. A few times he seemed to check his pace to stay with me but I didn’t think too much of it.
Just before Drymen Peter D caught up with me which surprised me. Peter had been very vocal that he could be 3hrs 45mins to Balmaha and still get under 20hrs. Well he was well inside that pace but was going well.
I arrived at Drymen in 2hrs 4mins which is the slowest I’ve been to there but it was right in line with my plan and I was feeling good.
Milngavie to Drymen (12.11miles)
2hrs 04mins 28secs (10.17pace)
Drymen to Balmaha
I went straight through Drymen and as is often the case I suddenly found myself on my own except for the guy in orange. It felt like having a shadow. We had been running together for over two hours and we hadn’t spoken.
He continued to sing every now and then as we ran side by side. Through the forest we caught up and went past a few folk including Tim D who said his plan was to run fairly hard when it was cool as he knew he’d slow down during the heat of the day.
By the time we reached the end of the forest the sun was coming up, head torched were switched off and the guy in orange was starting to really annoy me! Whenever I slowed down so did he and if I pushed on so did he …. all without a single word being said.
I did a video clip for my video diary where I moaned a bit about him not saying a word when I realised that I hadn’t made an effort to speak to him either! So when he slowed down to let me catch up I mentioned it’s good to be able to run without head torches.
He took off his ear piece and we chatted for the next half hour or so. I discovered his name is Marc Casey. Marc did the race last year in just over 22hrs and has been training really hard to break 20hrs this year. He knew me from my blog and I assumed he knew my splits and that was the reason he was staying near me!
Anyway we had a really good chat and we stayed together into Balmaha. Half way up the hill Peter caught us again going really well. He said that even though he would be quite a bit faster than 3.45 to Balmaha it felt as easy as 3.45 so he was still on plan. I never saw him again until the prizegiving so it obviously worked!
I took my time descending, avoiding the mistake of the Fling when I pushed far too hard and ran into Balmaha in 1hr 22mins. Katrina was waiting for me with water, my perpetuem drink and a change of top.
Drymen to Balmaha (6.84miles) in 1hr 22mins 21secs (12.02pace)
overall: 18.95miles in 3hrs 26mins 49secs (10.55pace)
Balmaha to Rowardennan
I ran through the crowded car park at Balmaha greeting a few folk on the way. As I turned right I saw Norman Neilson, who I run with quite a bit in the Fling. He didn’t seem sure of the way so we ran together. he seemed to be going well though said he’d maybe gone off a little too fast.
I knew that he too was aiming for 20hrs. After half a mile or so Marc joined us and the three of us ran together. I made sure I got to the back of the group so I could run my pace. I didn’t want to caught up running at their pace.
We stayed within touch for the next mile or two. I kept seeing Mark, Helen’s partner, so knew she wasn’t too far ahead. Katrina also told me that Debs was about 5mins ahead. I wasn’t too worried about catching anyone. If I did I did but it was more important to stick to my plan.
The three of us caught up with Helen on the road bit just after the beach. Norman and Marc pushed on and I ran with Helen. Over the past two races (Fling and Cateran) we have ran a lot together so it was good to chat about how we feel. Helen is also doing the UTMB this year and so was being understandably more cautious about this race.
The temperature was warming up and the Loch looked beautiful, so calm and still. There was a slight breeze which kept things comfortable. At Sallochy I caught up with Marc again and then we went past a few runners on the way into Rowardennan.
Katrina was waiting for me with my drink and food to take with me. I was wanting to keep my stops to a minimum so didn’t sit down here. Muriel was waiting for Tim and commented that I was ahead of my schedule.
I said goodbye to Katrina who was heading back home as Stevie and David were taking over from Beinglas Farm. I was 7mins behind my 19.50 plan and 9mins ahead of my 21hr plan so right in the middle!
Balmaha to Rowardennan (7.70miles) in 1hr 28mins 51secs (11.32pace)
overall: 26.65miles in 4hrs 57mins 09secs
Rowardennan to Inversnaid
As I set off from Rowardennan I decided that my 21hr plan would be the one to really aim for. It was getting warmer and it was going to get even hotter so I felt a sub 20hr was not really realistic today. I had no problem with that and was keen to see if I could kep inside my sub 21hr plan.
I was on my own for the first mile or so out of Rowardennan but it wasn’t long before Marc caught up with me again! He had his ipod back in and was singing away to himself. We caught up with another runner, who thought it was all very amusing watching Marc run and sing!
Marc pushed on up the hill and I ran/walked with the other runner. We introduced ourselves and spent the next hour or so chatting away. His name was also John and comes from Newcastle but lives down south.
It didn’t take long before we were chatting about the England game and what we would do if we were the manager. For what it’s worth my view is that Gerrard and Lampard can’t play together so one of them needs to be dropped.
John, who is obviously a talented runner, had a stress fracture recently and his training had been affected. He was up with the leaders early on but was now starting to struggle. We stayed together all the way into Inversnaid and I really enjoyed running with him.
Just before we got to Inversnaid Geordie John said that he finds this next section hard and wasn’t looking forward to it. The only negative thing I’m prepared to say about John is that he’s never read my blog!!! Can you believe it??
The Mountain Rescue folk were doing their normal excellent job at Inversnaid so within a minute or so I was refueled and on my way to Beinglas.
Rowardennan to Inversnaid (7.26miles) in 1hr 27mins 23secs (12.02pace)
overall: 33.91miles in 6hrs 25mins 30secs (11.22pace)
Invernaid to Beinglas Farm
I set off before Geordie John but he caught up with me around Rob Roy’s cave. I took a photo of him coming down the steep stone steps. That was the last I saw of him. I didn’t see him at the prizegiving so assume he dropped out which is a shame.
I was feeling pretty good at this stage, certainly in comparison to the Fling two months ago. I ran as much as I could and walked hard on the bits I couldn’t. It was getting warmer but the breeze was nice and it kept the midges away.
I had set my watch to 30min repeats to remind me to eat which I was doing. I also took a succeed tablet every 90mins as I knew I couldn’t afford to mess with that today. My legs were feeling the affects of running for over 7hrs but I was still going well. I was inside my sub 21hrs plan and enjoying being in the race.
I was now completely on my own with no-one to see in front and no-one behind though I try to make it a rule never to look back as it can be discouraging when you see someone!
I got through the forest part of the route and into the open then past Doune Bothy. I then spotted a runner ahead so decided to try and catch him by Beinglas.
I paused at the top of the Loch by the old whw post, took a photo and thought of Dario. I gather this is one of Dario’s favourite views and today it was absolutely stunning. The loch was a deep blue and the view was amazing without a cloud in the sky.
But Dario wouldn’t want me stopping for too long so I was soon off again heading into Beinglas Farm. I did catch the runner about a mile or so before the farm.
Stevie and David were waiting for me with everything ready. I asked for a spare top and when Stevie realised they hadn’t brought one up from the car, he stripped off and gave me his! This set the tone for the rest of the day. They did everything they could for me even giving me the shirt off their backs!!
Again I didn’t stop too long and was away after a couple of minutes. David ran after me with a clean buff to go with my ‘clean’ shirt! He seemed to be looking forward to the day and being part of the race.
I saw Phil Tipping who waiting for Ian. He offered me come of Ian’s complan but I decided against that one!!
Inversnaid to Beinglas Farm (6.63miles) in 1hr 39mins 56secs (13.33pace)
overall: 40.54miles in 8hrs 06mins 47secs (12.00pace)
Beinglas Farm to Auchtertyre
I was still 10mins ahead of my sub 21hr plan and even though my legs were tired I was feeling good. I was now on my own again and settling into my own rhythm.
I wrote at the start of this report that there was a beginning , a middle and an ending. I would say that up until this point was the beginning. Things going well. I was inside my silver medal goal, it was hot but the breeze made it bearable.
From Derrydaroch to Glencoe I would say was the middle and during this stage I had to dig as deep as I’ve ever had to in an ultra.
I kept a good pace for the 3miles or so to Derrydaroch. I was drinking regularly and felt hydrated. But I realised that I wasn’t going to see Stevie and David until Auchtertyre which was over 6miles away. I was concerned that I wouldn’t have enough water.
I was so pleased to see Stan B at Derrydaroch with water. I refilled my water bottle and hoped that would see me for the next one and a half hours.
I went through Carmyle Cottage and thought how different it was to last year when it was used as a stopping point and had hundred’s of people cheering on.
Once I was up and on the path up to the Forest above Crianlarich I walked and ran and still felt fine though I was rationing my water and knew I going to run out. I still couldn’t see anyone ahead and didn’t look behind but after a mile or so Norman caught up with me just before the ‘cow poo corner.’
I hadn’t seen Norman since Rowardennan where he had stopped for longer than I had. Anyway it was good to see him and I encouraged him to push on. He asked whether I wanted him to stay with me. I said no way, it’s a race – you go for it. But I decided to try and run with him for as long as I could.
Maybe it was just what I needed as I stayed with him all the way to Auchtertyre. In fact we worked really well together. Norman has sore knees and so was finding the down hills hard whereas I was feeling good on the down hills. So I led the way on the down hill and Norman pushed us up the hills.
Maybe because we were chatting but I didn’t drink enough and for the first time in the race probably ran at someone’s else pace rather than my own. But having said I was setting the pace as well!!
Anyway we ran into Auchtertyre together where we were weighed. I’d lost a couple of kg’s but that was fine. I didn’t realise it at the time but Norman had more of a problem. It seems they said he’d lost too weight and would have to be pulled from the race. He thought they must have recorded his weight wrongly at the start. Anyway he wasn’t pulled but it was something he didn’t need.
Stevie and David had everything ready and I sat down for the first time since setting off. After a 5mins stop I was up and off again. Just as I was about to leave Aileen Scott arrived looking as though she was running well. I expected to see her someone soon.
Beinglas Farm to Auchtertyre (9.50miles) in 2hrs 08mins 44secs (13.33pace)
overall: 50.04miles in 10hrs 17mins 59secs (12.21pace)
Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy
I was now 16mins ahead of sub 21 plan but as soon as I left the check point I knew I was in trouble. I had nothing in my legs. I decided to walk for a bit and hope I’d be able to get going.
I ran a bit along the road but it was hard. I remembered last year leaving here and running most of the way to Tyndrum. It wasn’t going to happen today and I was quite worried. This just didn’t feel good.
It’s hard to explain really. I’ve just run 50miles so obviously my legs are tired but this was different. It was if I was completely running on empty. There didn’t seem to be any fuel in the tank to run.
So I did the best I could, tried to run as much as possible but basically walked most of the way to Tyndrum. I was grateful that my garmin wasn’t recording my mini-splits as this would not have been happy reading!
Just as I went past the train station Rosie bell went past me. She was going well. She’d had some stomach issues but was now pushing on.
Stevie and David were waiting for me at Tyndrum and I said to them that I was struggling and this was getting hard. They did their best to encourage me, refilled my water and sent me on.
The next 6miles to Bridge of Orchy is normally a time to run and get into a good pace. Once you’ve climbed the hill there is a plenty of opportunity to run. But not today.
I could see Rosie disappearing into the distance as I trudged on with no life in my legs at all. Once I crossed under the railway line I did run for a bit but last year I ran non stop to the bridge at the bottom.
It was all very hard work. The sun was really beating down by now and we also had a head wind to contend with. I knew I was going to have to dig deep and just keep hoping. Everyone goes through tough times in this race but at the time I honestly couldn’t see myself coming through this one.
Just after the bridge two runners caught me. One was Roger Greenaway. I’d met Roger for the first time before the race started. We are both Super vets and have run a few Flings and whw races but never chatted.
I was really surprised to see him as I knew he was after a sub18hr time. He explained that he’d right up with the leaders to Balmaha but had blown up since then. He encouraged me to run a bit with me and so for the next mile or two I did that.
The other guy was Bob (I think?) who is a team mate of Roger but they’d never met before. After 20mins or so they continued to run up the hill past the old railway station and I walked.
As they disappeared up the hill I started to take stock of where I was and what was happening. I knew I was in deep trouble. I had over 35miles to go and I had no energy to run.
I calculated that I could walk say 3miles an hour. So 35miles would take at least 12hours, maybe more. I’d been going for about 12.5hrs. So I’m looking at least a time of around 25hrs or more.
I thought back to the Hardmoors 110. I’d done it then, I could do it again. It wasn’t going to be pretty but I knew I could do it. I wanted that 4th goblet and even if I did have to walk the rest of the way I was determined to do it.
I also decided I was going to have to change things. I thought back to the England game from Friday. At 0-0 they needed to do something different. Change their tactics, formation, personnel, attitude. Something. They didn’t but I could.
So as I walked in to Bridge of Orchy I decided I was going to have a 15minute stop (which is unheard of for me). I was going to change my shoes to my road shoes (which I very rarely do). I was going to see if I could get a hot drink (which I’ve never done before).
I just hoped that maybe I could get my mojo back run again but I didn’t really think I could. I was resigned to a long walk to Fort William.
David came up to see me just before the road crossing. I told him my plans and he ran down to let Stevie know. Donald Kennedy, a friend from Kilbarchan, was there too with his fancy camera. It did cross my mind that the only time he’s seen me on the route is the time when I’ve been at my very worse. I felt like a broken man.
As I came to the bridge I saw Roger walking towards me. I asked him whether he was okay. He said I’m stopping, I’ve had enough. I encouraged him to keep going. We can walk together I said. He said, no thanks and then as I walked away he added, ‘I’m not made of the same moral fibre as you.’
It made me even more determined to finish as I knew it was all about determination and a will to achieve my goal. I never even considered stopping.
So I lay down on the grass. I could see that Stevie was concerned. He has supported me for the last four years and has never seen me like this. I asked him could I have a hot drink so he ran up to the hotel for a hot chocolate.
David changed my shoes. I ate something and explained my plan to have a 15min stop. Chris McGlennon, another good friend from Kilbarchan arrived with his family. I’d been to France with Chris for the Saintelyon race in December.
Stevie, David, Chris and Donald – all encouraged me as much as they could. I was resigned to having to walk and even though they said I can get through this I didn’t think I would be able to run again.
After 18mins they pulled me to my feet and set me off up the hill to Inveroran. I could see them again in a couple of miles so that would be good.
Auchtertyre to Bridge of Orchy (9.27miles) in 2hrs 22mins 13secs (15.20pace)
overall: 59.31miles in 12hrs 45mins 38secs (12.55pace)
Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Ski Lodge
To my amazement as I left the check point my legs felt a lot better. I had a long hill to walk up but I was looking forward to getting to the top so I could see if I could run. For the first time in a 2hrs I left a tiny thread of hope and I clung to it on the way up the hill.
I was caught by a couple of runners but I didn’t really care about my position or time. It was whether I could get going enough to actually enjoy it.
At the top of a hill I could see the Scottish Saltire flying and I knew that Murdo would be there. Sure enough he was with his jelly babies, ready smile and word of encouragement. I told him my woes! I decided to stop and have a photo with his saltire. I’m normally in too much of a hurry.
As I was leaving I saw Helen approaching. She caught up as we headed down the hill. I encouraged her to keep going and don’t worry about me. But I decided I might as well try and stay with her for as long as I could.
To my great surprise I could run again and it felt great. I didn’t push too hard and I’m sure if you were watching it would look like I’m shuffling along but to me it felt like I was flying and my optimism rose.
I followed Helen down to the Inveroran Hotel where Mark was waiting for Helen. I must say that in the races I’ve done with Helen I think Mark should win an award for the amount of ground he covers to support Helen.
Stevie, David and Chris were waiting for me and I think they were happy to see me running again. Chris gave me a piece of ham to eat. That was not on my list of ‘tried and tested food’ but I was doing things differently today and so ate it. It was great and I think I needed some savoury food.
I ran the whole of the road to the stile into the forest. I couldn’t believe the difference. I caught up Helen and went past as she stopped at the car park with Mark.
I also saw Paul Hart along the road and asked how Vicky was getting on. He said she was doing really well and had left Bridge of Orchy. I thought she’ll be catching me next!
Stevie and David were waiting for me at the stile into the forest. I wasn’t sure whether I was within 4hrs of the leader or not and so whether I could have a support runner or not. I didn’t want to risk it and neither did Stevie so he planned to run ahead of me and wait with some water and then once I’d seen him he would run into Glencoe Ski Lodge.
This meant that I had plenty of water for the next 7.5miles. I walked up the hill and settled into a pattern of drinking every 10mins or so and then pouring water over my head. It made a big difference keeping my head cool.
I kept a good pace going up the hill and then once I’d reached the top I started running again. It felt soooo good to be able to run and I counted 50 breathes, then another 50 before walking for a bit and starting again.
Even though I felt I was going well again I was caught by a runner who did have a support runner so maybe I could of had one after all.
I ran out of water just before I met Stevie so his timing was excellent. He refilled my water bottle and then set off for the Ski Lodge with a request for ice cream. I really felt I needed someone cool in my mouth.
I’d been going almost 2hrs from Bridge of Orchy and had another 3miles to go but most of it was a long up hill climb. The runners who had gone past me were way ahead and I was starting to struggle again.
It was a long, long hill. I remembered passing Marco on this hill last year when he was struggling. I now know what he felt!! But by putting one front in the other I eventually made it to the top and ran down into the checkpoint at Glencoe Ski Lodge. I was so grateful the checkpoint was there as it was a mile or so shorter than Kingshouse!
As I came down the hill I could feel a pain on the back of my right knee. At first I thought it was sun burn but it was worse than that. I decided to take an ibuprofen as they kick in really quickly.
Katrina had driven back up and was waiting with a tub of ice cream. As much as it was great to see her I was more excited by the ice cream!!
I checked in and said to my support team that I was going to have a 10min break. Katrina went and got another pot of ice cream, Chris fed me more ham and massaged my legs . Stevie and David sorted out my water, food and gave me a clean top to wear.
As I was about to leave I saw Andy Cole looking very fresh and ready to go. I had wondered whether he would catch me and the answer was yes. I also saw Graeme Reid who looked a bit more like I felt!
Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Ski Lodge (10.77miles) in 2hrs 48mins 02secs (15.36pace)
overall: 70.08miles in 15hrs 51mins 50secs (13.35pace)
Glencoe Ski Lodge to Kinlochleven
I left the checkpoint with Andy and his daughter Julia who was supporting him to Kinlochleven. They were aiming for about 3hrs which sounded about right. We ran together all the way to Altnafeadh.
In my story I would say from here on in is the final part of my story – the end section. I’d got through the really touch middle and now had the finish in sight.
It really helped me as we chatted and the time passed really quickly. We even passed a few people, who had passed me on the Rannoch Moor. I felt so good to be catching people rather than being caught!
So thanks to Andy and Julia – I really appreciated your company. Andy was aiming for a sub 24hr finish which accomplished with 25mins to spare.
Stevie and David were waiting for me at Altnafeadh. David was ready to run and so we set off up the hill together. Both Stevie and David were amazing over the whole day. In some ways I’ve been easy to support over the last two years as everything has gone to plan and I’ve been in and out of checkpoints.
But this year was different and they both came up with the goods. They couldn’t have done any more and they were both so selfless in their support and effort.
David led the way up the hill and I walked as hard as I could to stay with him. I was feeling better by the minute and knew that I’d be able to run from the top. We didn’t stop the whole way to the top.
We paused to get a photo and enjoy the stunning view and then set off down the hill. I was telling David about my first year in 2007 when my quads were so bad I had to walk backwards down for a while as that was only way I keep going.
Thankfully today was very different and I felt really strong running the hill. After 15mins or so we glanced back and saw Andy and Julia way back so we realised we must have been going quite well.
We chatted and ran and then started to catch other runners and their support as we got closer to Kinlochleven. I couldn’t believe just how good my legs felt as we pushed it pretty hard all the way into Kinlochleven.
One of the runners we passed was Norman who was really struggling with his groin. He was finding the down hill really tough but he had that determination on his face that you just knew he was going to get to the finish which he did. Well done Norman!
I was really looking forward to getting to this checkpoint as Neal & Caroline Gibson and Caroline’s’ Dad were the marshals.
We ran into the checkpoint really strongly and I was really pleased to see I’d done that section in 2hrs 35mins which was 5mins faster than my sub 21hr plan. I was running again!!
It was great to see Neal, Caroline and Peter. They were doing a great job at the checkpoint and had another 10hrs to do right until 5am!!! The marshals do an amazing job – thanks to all of you.
I sat down for another 10min stop. I ate some more food including some of Chris’ chips! Another first for JK.
Glencoe Ski Lodge to Kinlochleven (10.85miles) in 2hrs 35mins 16secs (14.19pace)
overall: 18hrs 38mins 53secs (13.50pace)
Kinlochleven to Lundavra
As we set off I said to David we 4hrs to break 22hrs 45mins which was my time from my first whw race in 2007. Earlier at Bridge of Orchy I thought it was going to take me well over 24hrs, probably nearer 25hrs so to now be thinking about not setting a PW (personal worse) was really encouraging.
I really felt it was possible and gave me just the motivation I needed to keep going right to the finish.
We climbed up the hill as hard as we could, just pausing for a photo of Kinlochleven. Once we got onto the Lairigmor we were off running again. We ran as much as we could and walked hard on the rest.
Somewhere along this section we decided to aim for 22hrs 15mins. We were going well and we thought it was within our ability if we kept pushing.
Katrina, who by now was at the finish, was sending me regular texts with how our friends were getting on. I was thrilled when I heard Richie had won. I know how much effort he puts into this race and he so deserved to win.
We also heard that both Marco & Thomas were in under 19hrs but didn’t know whether they had got under Neal’s time of last year (18.42 – they just missed). I was so pleased for both of them. It was Thomas’ third attempt and even though Marco had finished twice this was a time that reflected his ability.
Earlier in the day I’d been dreading the Lairigmor thinking I’d be walking along at 2mph but here I was still in the sunshine running and really enjoying it. It never ceases to amaze me how you can be as low as I was at Bridge of Orchy after 12hrs 45mins but then 7hrs alter be running strongly.
As we arrived at Lundavra we could see a runner ahead and I was looking forward to seeing whether we could catch him!
I had a drop bag at the checkpoint so I took the gel that was waiting and we headed off on the final 7mile leg to the finish at Fort William.
Kinlochleven to Lundavra (7.65miles) in 1hr 56mins 23secs (15.13pace)
overall: 88.58miles in 20hrs 45mins 26secs (14.04pace)
Lundavra to Fort William
The bonfire had been lit and was looking good. We had 1hr 30mins to finish in 22hrs 15mins which was within reach.
We ran all the down hills and walked the up hills. It was getting cooler as it was 10pm so we put on long sleeved tops. During this stretch I received some more texts from Katrina informing me that Sharon had finished in 20hrs 15mins, Peter in 20hrs 49mins and Debs in 20hrs 58mins.
I was really pleased for all three of them. Debs had taken 10hrs off her previous time of 2 years ago! I know Peter was hoping to break 20hrs but that was hard to do in these conditions.
Again I’d thinking this was going to be long final stretch earlier in the day but now we were here the time passed fairly quickly and we arrived at the opening. Just before we got there Stevie came running towards us.
He had driven to Fort William ,put up our tent with Katrina and then run up the hill to meet us. It was so good to be able to finish off the race together. Stevie and David had put so much into today to make it possible for me to do as well as I could on a tough today and I really appreciated it.
Once got onto the main wide track we ran as hard as we could. We saw a runner and his support not far ahead. It was someone who had gone past me many hours ago to the Rannoch Moor. Over the next couple of miles we passed four more runners. Having been on our own for so long it seemed strange to be seeing so many.
I looked at my average pace for the last 2miles and it was 8.50. I knew I would struggle to keep that going along the flat so eased off a bit. The last person I caught was Mark Caldwell who I’d not seen since just after Rowardennan.
I walked through the car park and Mark continued running. Along the road I ran, walked a bit, ran again, final walk and then ran into the Leisure Centre to finish in 22hrs 15mins 03secs for 34th place.
Lundavra to Fort William (6.93miles) in 1hr 29mins 37secs (12.57pace)
overall: 95.50miles in 22hrs 15mins 03secs (13.59pace)
It was good to finish, have a shower, a massage, some food and chat to a few people.
I started this report by saying I’m as proud of this run as any I’ve done. I know it wasn’t as quick as the previous two years but that’s what makes it so special. The sense of accomplishment is amazing.
Even as I’ve written this on Monday morning, thinking back to how I felt at Bridge of Orchy, to the way friends and family supported and helped me has made me realise again just why I love being part of this race.
The prize giving was special the next day. It was different without Dario but I thought the committee did a really good job. They introduced a new tradition of asking the winner to present the last finisher with their goblet which I thought was a good touch.
Let me finish by thanking again my support team, Katrina, Jo & Jon, Hollie and Stevie & David for all their support and help. Also to Donald K and Chris, Carol and their children for coming up to support me.
Also a massive thank you to all the people who give up a whole weekend (and far more time as well) to organise and marshal the race.
I can’t wait for next year!!
PS winner of my ‘Guess My Time’ competition was Jacqueline (a teacher in one of the schools I work at). Her guess of 21hrs 20mins 19secs was the closest!! A whw t-shirt is one the way.
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13 Responses to West Highland Way 2010 Race Report

  1. Peter Duggan says:

    Very vocal? When what I said was…

    'Think I can probably run 19:30 off 3:45 to Balmaha, but know it's ultimately all riding on the day and reserve the right to be embarrassingly wrong! :-/'

    It was tough, really tough, I just couldn't have dug any deeper, but am not afraid to say I was found wanting in the end. Glad you got through your own tough patch and finished so strongly!

  2. Amazing achiuevment once again.

  3. Gav says:


    I still chuckle when I think of that conversation we had in the first hour of the race, when we both agreed that we ” would take it easy for the first 50 miles !!!!”. Only ultra-runners could have a chat like that so matter-of-factly, “normal” people just wouldn't comprehend.

    Know you had a tough race, but well done for getting through it and making it to the finish. If it doesn't kill you it only makes you stronger.


  4. What a battle, JK. Huge respect. Not just for overcoming such tough times, but for being so positive about your own and everybody else's performance. It shows real strength of character. And how much your care about your friends and “family”.

    You might not have got a PB, but you still finished in a great time and positive. Another satisfying tick?

    Happy recovery.

    Debs 🙂

  5. Chris says:

    Well done john. I enjoyed reading this and am inspired by your attitude and dedication. Amazing

    Would you have done anything differently in preparation or do you think the weather was the problem?

  6. Davie says:

    A great run in difficult conditions. I just missed you at B of O but spoke to David and Stevie who told me you were having a real struggle. Loved your attitude when the going got tough.I think though,it might be a while before you beat Debs and the GM again!

  7. Thomas says:

    The way you turned that race around is really inspiring and shows how strong you are.

  8. Andy Cole says:

    Well done John, and a super read as always. It was great to see you get your “second wind” and take off up the Devil's staircase – from that point you covered the ground to the the end about an hour and twenty minutes faster than me!

  9. kate says:

    well done john! an amazing achievement for you to pull it together and get that 4th goblet. you're experience really shows, some else might well have stopped at the bridge of orchy. you've got real strength of character. congratulations to your support too.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Excellent run & determination John, well done.



  11. Fabulous run John. Like others have said it shows a real strength of character when you can finish the race after having things go wrong. You reassessed the situation and came out trumps. What I was very impressed with was your attitude after the race. A lot of people could have felt sorry for themselves or unhappy but you were so happy, not just at your performance but at everyone elses.

    Hope you are recovering well


  12. SW says:

    Fab blog John and great photos. We only saw you at Balmaha, but you are a man after my own heart battling on despite feeling so rough. Great effort. 🙂

  13. xiain says:

    Well battled John, to a strong finish! Good to have that brief catchup with you at the prizegiving.

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