I wanted to do one longer run before my final Ultra of the year which is the White Rose Ultra in two weeks on Sunday 1st November. I wanted to do a route which I thought would be similar to the White Rose ultra which has some hills as well as flatter sections.
So I decided to run the first 27 miles of the West Highland Way. I’ve done this section many many times but the last time was when I did the 2013 whw race. I like to do an a to b run if possible rather than out and back so I offered to take Katrina for lunch at the Oak Tree in Balmaha ….. if she picked me up at Rowardennan!
I left home at 7.30am and ran the mile and a half down to Paisley Gilmour Street. I then caught the train to Glasgow and then out to Milngavie for £4 single ticket. It was very foggy all the way there and when I started off at 9am the visibility was still very limited.
I had a rough plan of 2hrs to Drymen, 1hr 30mins to Balmaha and 1hr 30 -1hr 40mins to Rowardennan. I said to Katrina I should arrive between 2pm and 2.30pm.
Right from the off I could feel my quads from my double Ben Lomond run but knew it would be good to give them one more tough work out before the race.
I wondered if I would see anyone I know out running and it didn’t take too long before I saw David Gow, Robert Souter and John running towards me. They had been out for an out and back from Milngavie. It looked like they were running well. We stopped for a quick chat before going our separate ways.
I was interested to see how many more signs there are now on this first section and where the path has been improved. There is certainly no reason to get lost at all.
I was planning to practise running to my heart rate but after about 40 mins the HR reading stopped. I assumed it would come back on but didn’t so I assume the battery in the strap needs replacing. I was good that it happened in a training run rather than a race but also it gave me the practise of running to HR with a HR monitor!
As I approached Drymen the fog was lifting but I could see in the distance the mist all over Loch Lomond.
I reached Drymen in 2:00:41 so spot on but I felt that I was finding it a bit harder than I would have liked. My quads were definitely feeling the effects of Wednesday’s run. But all good practise.
As I ran through the woods I meet Amanda Hamilton and David Meldrum who were doing a run from Drymen to Balmaha and back. Again I stopped for a few minutes to have a chat and take a photo!
The fog had fully gone by now and I was running in lovely sunshine. The new path that was built on the approach to Conic Hill is now well established and makes the section a lot easier to run on.
I was interested to see that there is a new access road being built to the side of the hill. I’m not quite sure what it is for but there were plenty of diggers out excavating the route.
I went past an older guy walking who asked whether there is an alternative route to Balamha that misses out Conic Hill. I encourage to go over the hill as the views are great!
Then I saw Mike Thompson running towards me. Mike and I have had some good battles on various Fling and whw races in the past. Mike was saying that his back has been bad recently and this was his first run for 5 weeks. He turns 60 soon he said and plans to have an operation to get his back fixed properly. I really hope it work out and he is able to get back to running pain free.
I love the view from the top of Conic before the path heads down so I paused to take a photo and video of the view.
There were lots of people taking advantage of the lovely day and climbing up Conic Hill. I reached Balmaha in 1:29:25 (2:30:06).
As I set off for the final leg to Rowardennan I felt this was going to be harder going and it was! My quads were protesting more now and I had to work harder to keep running. I have two weeks before the race and hope that is enough time for my quads to repair stronger and be ready for the race!
I paused for another photo at the spot where I married Ryan and Becci in 2012.
I ran as much as I could over the next hour or so but I didn’t feel I was moving very smoothly! I took another photo or two along the way.
I arrived at Rowardennan in 1:43:14. So the 26.76 miles took me 5:13:01 (11:41). That pace would see me complete the White Rose Ultra in 11hrs 40mins which I would take!!
I met my final runners of the day Alan Robertson and David Simpson who were doing Balmaha to Inversnaid and back. They too were enjoying their day out in the sun.
Katrina wasn’t at Rowardennan but had sent a voice message saying she was delayed getting over the Erskine Bridge due to road works.
Katrina arrived 25mins later and we drive to the Oak Tree for some well deserved lunch. I normally have the steak pie but decided to have a change and had the minced beef on a giant Yorkshire pudding and it was excellent.
The Strava Flyby is fun as you can see the other runners I met along the way.