Tuesday, 21 June 2011

My First West Highland Way Race

Pre Race

I had arranged with my support crew to pick me up at 11pm, so when the text came in at 10:50 say that they were on time.the nerves were starting to kick in, i had all my kit in one box and supplies in another so when the guys arrived we fitted everything in to the car and headed for Milngavie. as we entered the railway station car park the place was jumping, i was surprised when we even managed to get a parking space, myself and Sam then went over to the registration, picked up my number and i got weighed in before heading back to the car park i met Thomas and Silke for the first time. After saying hello to JK, it was time for the race brief, then before i knew it we were counting down to the start of the race.

Milngavie to Drymen

As we left Milngavie, the fast group had dissapeared and i was sitting in a group consisting of Sharon Law,Ross Moreland,John Kynaston And Richard Galbraith, as we continued along Jamie Aarons joined and immediately went to the front with Sharon, John joked that the girls were holding the gates open for the men. as we moved along the group started to thin out on the road section approaching drymen. i managed to see my crew in amongst the many people standing there.

Drymen to Balmaha 

After leaving Drymen the group remained spread out again until i was with Mark Caldwell as we came over Conic Hill into the carpark at Balmaha. As i came down the hill i started to slide causing me to fall over lucky for me it was only my arm that took the knock. i decided that once i had stopped for a quick bite i would dry my feet and get a fresh pair of socks on. my five minues flew in and i was soon on my way.

Balmaha to Rowardennan

As i started to climb out of Balmaha i could see Sharon climbing up the path ahead little did i know then that we would be running together until Glencoe.this section went passed very quickly as we came into Rowardennan the first faces i saw there where John McLaughlin and John Bell (part of Marcos support) who gave us a welcome cheer, i saw my crew and headed over to change my footwear for the lochside, when i asked for my other shoes the guys said they could not find them, it then came back to me that they were lying outside the house at the door, so it was a case of drying the feet and more fresh socks.

Rowerdennan to Inversnaid

I spent most of this section just behind Sharon running with Craig Stewart, one of my friends, Paul was going to drive up in the morning and run down with my drop bag, as i arrived at Inversnaid, Paul was waiting with my refuel for the next section, i felt this was an important section to get a bit of moral support, then me and Craig were off as paul went to Tyndrum.

Inversnaid to Bienglass

Craig started to drop back on this section as we went over the goat path and again i wasn't far behind Sharon as we came into Beinglas the crew were sitting in the seated area as you cross the footbridge again taking another five minutes to get a rice and to refuel my race belt.

Bienglass to Auchentyre

This section seemed much easier than it did at the Fling,as i came through the big gate at Boggle Glen i got the news that Marco had withdrawn from the race. i stopped and borrowed a change of shoes as i remebered the last time i ran this section i felt every bloody stone under my feet just then Sharon came through the gate with another runner Adam Versteeg, we all ran together to the checkpoint as we arrived we saw Marco walking towards us, he was changed, he gave Sharon a quick hug as we continued in to the checkpoint. This was the first weigh in point, i had a lost some weight, then took the usual five minutes to grab a bite.

Auchertyre to Bridge of Orchy

Myself and Adam left around the same time as we came through lower Tyndrum Neil Gibson gave us cheer, then appraoching high Tyndrum Paul was waiting for me, at this point i walked up the small climb with another runner called Mark  Leggett then got myself started again. I could see Sharon in the distance, it wasn't long before Mark caught me, at this point Adam had fallen back. Mark and i both eventually caught up with Sharon as we all came through the checkpoint. i took a few minutes as Shaun wanted to see my mandatory kit.

Bridge of Orchy to Glencoe Ski Centre

Leaving BoO i had a kit change, myself Mark and Sharon all came through Victoria Bridge, again i stopped for a quick refuel, just then Adam caught up, heading over Rannoch Moor, the rain was coming down and by now i could feel myself starting to struggle, Another Runner whom i ran with over  Conic earlier, Mark Caldwell had caught up with us and passed looking quite strong. Adam dropped back as the three of us tried to see this section out, with a mile to go to the Ski Centre Sharon was away on her own followed by Mark Then Me.

Glencoe Ski Centre to Devils Staicase

I got out of the wet clothes, had another snack and headed down to the Kingshouse with Adam at this point Mark was behind us. my crew had agreed to meet at the bottom ot the Devils Staircase. again i did not enjoy this small section, as i arrived i changed in to my Skins but by now Adam was well on his way to the top, part of the way up i met Mark again but he looked like he was in a worse place than me at this point, just then i was caught up by another runner who seemed to appear from nowhere called Graham Strachan who was being supported by George Cairns, he had been running with Debs who he said was just behind us, once at the top i seemed to get a second wind and ran with Graham into the Kinlochleven checkpoint.

Kinlochleven to Lundavra

I went inside the centre to weigh in when saw John Mclauglin, John Bell and Marco in the seated area, i weighed in and told Marco that Debs was close behind. i had went to get another change of top from Sam before heading over the Larig Moor,as i did so Debs was off like a shot heading up the Larig climb. i could see her and Adam drifting further and further away from me. As i headed towards Lundavra another runner came pat, Marc Casey , after that the only people were the wilderness response team offering Juice and by now it was getting harder to keep the momentum up, eventually as i approached Lundavra just before the checkpoint Tam came down try and lift my spirits by saying that the last group were not far in front.

Lundavra to Fort William

As i left the checkpoint i was really starting to struggle i found it difficult to pick myself up, i could still see Debs and Adam at stages then they dissapeared. just then my watch went dead, this was the final straw, i had no idea what distance i was covering and i had no sense of time and the forrest trail just seemed to go on and on for ever. As i came up the final part of the trail, i had felt a sense of being lost, the footpath had a large tree covering it and there was a road to the left, i stood for a few minutes as my directoin was gone and i did not want to take a wrong turn, just then three cyclists came up towards me, i shouted to them for directions, wich they pointed to the path with the tree over it so i climbed through it only to find the other end coming out onto the road. i headed down the road where the cyclists came tearing past me, as i came  around a bend someone was taking photos and shouted well done, was i glad to see someone. as i continued down the road for a bit Sam appeared and said it was only three miles to go, i was struggling badly and found even going dowhill difficult. i happened to look back and i could see two runners behind me, one passed me and that made me try and find something to get to the main road, as i looked back i could  not see anyone else, on the main road my support shouted out of the car that it was about 500 yards to go to the roundabout, this felt like an eternity as the road just seemed to go on and on ,still struggling i walked and ran until i could see the roundabout then i could see my crew at the entrance of the Centre. I had just crossed the line when i found out the runner behind me was mark who i had spent most of the race with.

Position 16th  - Time 19 Hours 47 Minutes 17 seconds


  1. Congratulations on your first goblet! What a great time! Silke

  2. Great run Robert - well done.

  3. Brilliant time Robert - well done for a great race. Caroline

  4. Well done Bob, and great to finally meet you in person :-)
    Sub 20 does not come easy (as you have noticed). It took me three attempts to get there. Looking forward for training runs and further races together.


  5. thank you to every one for their words of encouragement, i have been made very welcome in my first year of ultra running and met lots of fantastic people during training the runs and races.looking forward to seeing you all in the near future.