Tuesday, 20 July 2010

West Highland Way Race 2010

5th position

The last two years it has been easier to write a report on the race. Why do I find it easier to write when things have gone wrong I don't know. Maybe I like the pain and suffering, the heart ache at finishing but knowing I could do better. This year things did not go to plan but I pulled through and got a time I can finally be proud of. But I never felt the pain of previous years. Dare I say it was actually easy? A race of this distance is never easy but compared to previously when I could barely walk at 30 min miles, this was a walk in the park. Firstly though I must apologize for the time it has taken to write this blog and secondly there is a lot of disgusting toilet issues in it too. Sorry.

Milngavie 19th June 2010

I really didn't feel nervous this year. Maybe I should. I didn't feel nervous last year and that all went tits up. So in reality I felt nervous at not feeling nervous. This year I had six months of fantastic training and two good races behind me. I was in a completely different last year - both physically and mentally.
Supporting me this year was ever present Rob, who has supported me in most of my ultras and has a great calming affect on everyone. New boy John - his first venture into support had been on the fling and I was finding that he was great addition. I liked his attention to detail in getting things right and from Beinglas onwards Athole. Another old timer in the support team. Always dependable and this year helped me really come through at a major part of the race. More on that later.
Anyway. I had the best team bar none. In this race you rely on these guys to pull you through and these guys excelled.

Back to the start and I was just sitting back in the car eating cashew nuts. In my own wee world. My mum and dad came to wish me luck and it was great to see them. They get worried about me doing stuff like this and I didn't make it any better when I started to tell them about the medical issues you can have. I told them about how it was bad to drink too much and my dad asked "Why?" to which I, quoting Dr Ellis the race doctor, said "Cause you will die.". I immediately regretted saying it and did wonder if they slept more than me that night or not.

Milngavie to Drymen
12.14 miles
1 hour 51min 19s

Dario was everywhere tonight in spirit. I had only known him a short number of years but when he died it was devastating. Our last conversation together was at Ian Beatties BBQ a week after last years race. I was barely able to walk and standing was difficult too. Dario said that perhaps I wasn't suited to races over 50 miles. The WHW was perhaps a step too far. He wasn't the first person to say that. My support team had and also members at my running club. They were all right because performances up to that time showed that. I just wish it hadn't been the last conversation I had with Dario. He never said it in a bad way, people that knew him know that he didn't have a bad bone in his body. He said it like a father to a son sort of way. He was the wise one passing on knowledge to me.

After a minutes applause for Dario, Gilian (Dario's widow) started the race.

And so it had started and I just started walking. I let everyone run ahead and I walked up the stairs at the start. It's a long race and you don't win by setting records in the first 100 meters.
That was the first thing I learnt this year training. Take care of yourself and the race will take care of itself.
I then started to run with Debbie. I think that she was amazed that we were running together. I felt good and relaxed. I tried to pick my mum and dad out from the crowd. A dog was running all about under our feet and I was laughing. Only a WHW start would be so comical. A hundred odd lycra clad weirdos, running past young neds in a posh suburb of Glasgow, with loads of spectators cheering us on while a dog did it's upmost to trip us all up.

When I had ran in the Fling I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere as I left Milngavie. I was chatting and laughing and I enjoying myself. So in the WHW I really thought that because it was an even slower pace I would settle back and chat and laugh with everyone again. But this was not the case. The atmosphere was tense and you could have cut it with a knife. No one said a word. I came to the first hill and walked easily up it. Back running again and out of Mugdock park. Past Dumgoyach hill I glanced back at the centipede of head torch lights all the way up the hill. Still no one spoke.
I am running beside another runner. He is absolutely gasping for air running side by side with me. I glance over to see him sweating buckets. I just want to say to him "please slow down". I wonder what happened to that runner. I hope he finished okay.

Past the Beech Trees pub and I met my support team for the first time. A quick swap of bumbags with them and I was fully stocked up with supplies for the rest of the trip to Drymen.
Now and then the silence was broken by a cautious "thank you" as runners held open the gates for each other.

Then the silence was shattered. I caught up with Sharon Law. Debbie's best pal and first girl in last years race. Nickname - Gibbering Midget. Dressed in her trademark hot pants even although it was only 2am
Straight away she was discussing toilet issues and farting like a trooper. To be honest so was I. My stomach wasn't feeling too good and I could feel the energy drink sloshing about. A sort of glug glug feeling. Not to worry. It is expected when you are trying to eat at this time in the morning.

Drymen to Rowardennan
15.03 miles
2 hours 37 mins 16s
4:28:45 total (27.18m)

I met my support team again just before Drymen. It was just a check to make sure I was okay and apart from my dodgy stomach I was fantastic. The easy pace that I was going felt extremely good and I was relaxed and confident that the training I had done in the last six months would see me through. The Fling had given me the confidence that a slow start pays dividends in the end.
Through the Drymen checkpoint. I hate this checkpoint. You can't see anyone because it's dark and peoples torches shine in your face. I like to just get through this one as soon as possible and so I asked my support to meet me in the car park in the woods after Drymen.
So there I swap my my bumbag again for fresh supplies and continue on.
I don't feel as good as I did at the same section on the Fling though. My stomach is starting to dictate my running speed and I have to slow down when I feel my stomach going. Still I am going past people. People that have gone to fast at the beginning.
The sun is coming up now and it looks like it will be a lovely day.
I catch Donna Utakis on the way down Conic Hill. She speeds up when she sees me but I soon catch up again as we come into Balmaha. There is still a long way to go but I will see Donna again later.

Now I decide that I must stop and try to fix my stomach. At this point in the race 10 minutes fixing this will gain me so much extra time later on. I stop at Balmaha and notice a confused look from my support. So I go into the toilets at Balmaha.

I spend a long 8 minutes on the toilet. Not much to show for it though. I manage to pee down the back of my shorts and do a lot of farting. There is a bit of mucous but not much of anything else. (I am sorry for the descriptions)

My stomach does feel better though so off I go again. I pass George Cairns which means my pacing must be bang on and I haven't lost too much time. Walking up the hill from Balmaha I meet Stan Bland. I feel good and I have a laugh with him. By myself now and just me and my thoughts as I push on for Rowardennan.
I ran this section with John Kynaston recently and feel like I know every hill and every boulder. I am relaxed and feeling good. Everything is going to plan but every now and then I get a stomach issue. Slow down it goes away for a while and then comes back. Slow down again or walk and it goes away for a bit longer. Speed up and after a while it comes back again. I feel like I am on a tight rope and there is no way that I am gonna stay on that rope all day.

Into Rowardenan and I think about stopping again but the slow then fast running is working and keeping any accidents at bay and I decide against it.

Rowardennan to Beinglas
13.98 miles
2 hours 45 mins 29s
7:14:03 total time (41.15m)

My support team have Weetabix ready for me here. One of my plans this year is to try to keep my stomach working for as long as possible in the hope I will feel stronger later on. The weetabix goes down a treat as I walk through Rowardennan.
I see Thomas "The Crazy German". We have trained so much together this year. I wave over to him. Out of everyone I know that is running the race this year I want him to finish so much. Even if I struggled myself I would feel better knowing he had finished. He had had a few issues in the four weeks prior to the race with his shin but seemed to get better in the week before. I just hoped his shin would hold out.

I walk out of Rowardennan with my support team. They are making sure that everything is okay. Shoes, food, stomach. Stomach still dodgy but manageable. It should go away soon.

Thomas catches up and my support wave goodbye. It will be a long time before I see them again in Beinglas. Thomas and I walk out up the hill at Rowardennan but Thomas complains that my walking is the same speed as his running and so runs away up the hill faster than me. I think that he will only run a bit and then stop and I will catch him. But he doesn't. He just keeps running all the way into the distance and I wonder if I will see him again. I hoped he will be okay.

My quads are sore now. Why are my quads sore. They never hurt at all in the Fling so why after only 30 odd miles are they hurting now. I start thinking that the only things it can be is that stupid 3 week taper has de-trained me or perhaps the 1am start has made me tired. Maybe next year I will shorten my taper I think to myself.

Before long I am in Inversnaid and the Trossachs Mountain Rescue team are there with supplies and our drop bags. Also there is Thomas. Thomas? I didn't think I was gonna see him until much later. I run towards him happy that we can run the next section together. But he is not happy. In fact he looks broken and finished and I fear the worst. He looks at me and mumbles about his shin giving him grief. Compared to how I saw him as he left Rowardennan he is a shadow of himself as he limps out of Inversnaid. I finish getting my drop bag from the MR team and catch up with the crazy German.
I ask him if he needs help or painkillers. He tells me to go on. He is struggling to get down the small hills now and asks me to go ahead and let Silke know about his shin. I don't feel as bad leaving him now that I have a job to do but I know now that his race is finished and I feel awful for him. I fear that this will be the last time he will attempt the WHW and I selfishly fear that without a common goal in life we will lose contact. But I can't think like that now. I have a job to do and I must get help for my friend and let his wife Silke know he is in trouble.

But as Beinglas gets closer I can't get Thomas out of my head. It's just not fair. I so wanted him to finish this year and after his fling performance I thought it was a dead cert.

Then my stomach problems come back with a bang and instantly bring me back to my race. Okay I need to forget Thomas now and get back to me.

The day is really turning out to be a belter. There isn't a cloud in the sky but luckily I am still in the shade of the surrounding hills.

Just before Beinglas farm there is a hill at the top of the Loch. I always think of Dario here and my thoughts go back to him not being about this year. I turn round to look at the view down the loch to see Thomas flying along towards me looking great. Fantastic I think. Thomas is back.
As I come down the hill into Beinglas I see Rob and let him know about Thomas so that he can use the walkie talkies to let Silke know. I can hear everyones concerned voices as Rob let's them know so I shout that he looks a lot better now and not to worry.

At last Beinglas and I decide to change my shoes into my road shoes. Straight away I feel lighter and curse that I didn't start out with them.

Beinglas to Auchtentyre Farm
9.56 miles
2 hours 8 minutes 30s
9:27:11 total time (50.82m)

I was out of Beinglas quite fast considering I had changed my shoes. But I walked the first bit as I refuelled. John walked beside me and it was good to talk to someone. The start time of the race makes it even harder on the body. When I was at Beinglas in the fling I felt fresh but this time the hours of no sleep was taking it's toll. Not even half way I thought. My quads feel trashed, my stomach issues are still continuing to be well an "issue" and I am so tired. Not physically. Mentally.
I leave John and continue up and down the hills towards Crianlarich. It is now that I take the decision that I must try to fix the stomach issues. I need to stop now or else I will get slower and slower until I have to walk the final 20 miles. I won't do that again and risk not running for 6 months. Sure a goblet is a great thing to have and want but in the end I have had 2 previous races where I have had to push right to the end and it has done me no good whatsoever.
I find a giant rock and crouch behind it. Nothing much came out. A lot of air again but really not enough to solve the issues. I tried to massage my stomach and try to force something out. Why was this happening? I had done everything right over the last 6 months. Trained properly, ate and drank properly. Why why WHY?
I crouched. 5 minutes, 6 minutes. Thomas and another guy went flying past. Thomas looked very strong. It was like his twin brother had taken over at Beinglas. He was a different man. Not wanting to attract attention to me and my bare bum I didn't shout over but inside I wished him well and doubted I would see him again. I felt broken.

I got going again but it did feel a bit stop and start. I was glad when I got to the A82 crossover as now I would have an excuse to walk.
I had to do something to light the spark again. So I started to listen to music. I cheered up a lot but still I wasn't going anywhere fast. I needed more and more breaks and I could see Thomas far in the distance getting further and further away.

Then a thud on my back. Well more of a pat but it startled me. It was George Cairns. He said something but it was drowned out by Pendulum on my iPod. I wasn't sure what he said and my reply must have been unintelligible, but I think I may have managed a half smile. He disappeared hot on the tail of the crazy German. Maybe I should drop out I thought. This was getting worse and I was finished. The first year I had to walk 12 miles, last year 20 odd miles. I really can't walk any more than that. I don't want to be the person that could do better. Not again. I would rather drop out. My support could go home and not waste any more time on this fruitless task and I could go and support Debbie.

NO I must get myself together. If George Cairns has only just passed me then I am still on for a good time I thought. If only I can get myself together. The stomach issues were now worse than ever. Every step I could feel it sloshing and gurgling. I was scared that wind would turn out to be something messier if I pushed it.
But I don't think that the stomach issues should be stopping me from running. Okay they won't help and will mean that I will need to go slower but they shouldn't stop me from running at all. Have I eaten enough? Have I drank enough? I had been eating and drinking very well up to Rowardennan but I had struggled drinking my energy drink from Rowardennan to Beinglas.
Okay it could be lack of energy as well as stomach problems I thought.
As I limped into Crianlarich and met my support I had decided I would stop here and sort this once and for all.

I must have looked a sorry state cause my team didn't look as cheery as they had been. I didn't want to let them down and although this looked bad and me stopping probably looked really bad from experience I knew I had to sort it now. Athole had joined the team now and I was embarrassed that he once again was seeing me broken.

Toilet roll in hand I was off to the bushes. This time though I had food and coke. In one end and out the other I was hoping. I was there 10 minutes and there was a lot of strange noises and more horrible mucus. Walkers came past but I didn't care. I ate jelly babies and drank coke. I could feel the energy seeping back to me.

The section towards the wigwams wasn't much better. My stomach was still gurgling and I was feeling sorry for myself. The highs at the start had vanished and now I must just hold on. More people past me and I didn't care.

I reached the wigwams and said to my team that I would have to try the toilet again. I had to wait for the toilet to become free and then spent a long time trying to force something out. Again air and mucous. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to just stay in the toilet. Now and then Athole would knock the door to ask if I was okay and awake me from my half asleep state. I just need 5 more minutes I would say. Nothing was working and I was getting ready for yet another demoralising walk to the end.

Suddenly a cheer awoke me from my daze. I shot out of the toilet to see Sharon gayly dance by smiling at everyone. I met John from my support and felt like crying as I remembered the mocking I got from Debbie when she reminded me that I was well and truly beaten by a girl last year. I whimpered to John. "I have really fucked this up. Sharon is gonna beat me by miles again." He answered cooly and calmly that there was a long way to go and I was still looking good. I didn't believe the looking good bit but he was right about the long way.

Auchtentyre to Bridge of Orchy
9.73 miles
2 hours 5 minutes 43s
11:32:55 total time (60.55m)

So I refueled up again and chased after Sharon. Before long I was catching her. I felt great. Then my stomach would strike again and I would slow down. "Fuck, Fuck, FUCK"
I just wanted to scream. I would slow down and she would put distance between us. Then I would catch up, then my stomach, then slow down, then she would put more distance again.
Then I really had to stop. Emergency touching cloth stuff. I found a bush and crouched, knowing that Sharon was getting away again. It was a relief as this time something came out. "whew at last" I thought.
I checked my bumbag for my emergency toilet roll. " damn". I had used it all up at Beinglas and hadn't restocked.
I looked about for leaves or moss or something but the only thing available was sunbaked arse stabbing grass. I used it and really worried that I was gonna have the chaffing from hell tomorrow.
So I started to run after Sharon again. God my bum is killing me already. I turned round to find that I was still trailing half the grass behind me as it stuck out of my shorts.
"This really isn't my day today" I thought.

I reached Tyndrum and was surprised to see Sharon still there. I walked straight through as my support team followed me and fed me. On the hill Sharon caught up and we walked together. It was good to have a chat with someone. She looked so fresh that I was amazed she had ran the same 53 miles I had. We ran together most of the way to Bridge of Orchy and chatted. It was good to take my mind away from the race and everything else that had bugged me today. It felt just like a training run.
By the time I reached Bridge of Orchy I was ahead of Sharon. I met my support team and walked with them for a bit. I real wanted to fuel up here in readiness for Rannoch Moor.
I was eating boiled potatoes when suddenly I felt very tired again. As I told my support team that I had to sit down I could see the more worried looks on their faces.

Bridge of Orchy to GlenCoe
10.50 miles
2 hours 16 minutes 47s
13:49:45 total time (71.07m)

Then I saw Sharon galloping up the hill again and this made me move.
I walked up the hill half dazed and feeling very tired. I saw a saltire flag in the distance and immediately knew it must be Murdo. I cheered up as I approached him and tried to look happy at the prospect of all the miles left. I thought I was doing a really good job of looking happy as he gave me a jelly baby but later after the race Murdo told me that he thought I was completely finished.
Sharon again gleefully overtook me but I caught up again at Victoria Bridge although she kept a small distance between us this time. Perhaps she is bored of my chat.
As I started the climb into Rannoch Moor another chap catches up with me and we start talking. It was good to talk with someone on the hill but soon he is too fast for me and runs away.
Along the moor we pass walkers. Sharon is still ahead and she is running well were else I am run/walking. Paranoia sets in as I think the walkers are laughing at me chasing after a wee girl unable to catch her. Sharon looking fit while I am blowing up big time.

As we continue I just accept that this is what happens at nearly 70 miles and that I will never be able to have a really good race.

As I approach the Checkpoint at Glencoe I overtake Sharon again. To our teams it must look like we have ran the last few sections together but we haven't. There is a big difference between us though. Sharon is cheery and light on her feet but I am glum, heavy and want to sleep. Debbie's support are there too. It's the first time I have seen them and the thought is now that Debbie will also catch me too. I ask how she is doing and she is having a great run and they expect to see her in less than half an hour. I calculate that if she hasn't caught me by Kinlochleven it will be soon after.

Glencoe to Kinlochleven
10.55 miles
2 hours 11 minutes 48s
16:01:39 total time (81.60m)

My support team look even more worried. They pack me off before I want to go but they are doing their job admirably. That is what they need to do. Tell me to get going when everything in my body is telling me to stop. The mile odd down to Kinghouse feels like an eternity as I run down having left the checkpoint with Sharon. I am fading again though and let her go on. I immediately eat loads of Jelly babies, a gel and a caffeine shot.
Feeling the energy inside me I catch Sharon again and we run to the bottom of Devils staircase together. My legs feel goosed now so I ask my team for pain killers.
I am fatigued, my stomach is achy and I don't want to be here anymore.

Athole forces me to eat more and I guzzle down more jelly babies. I tell him that I never want to run this race again. Too much time has been spent training for the exact same outcome year in year out. I can't be bothered ever again training for this race.

The walk up the Devils Staircase is a nightmare and my legs are buckling beneath me. I can't believe that such an easy hill is killing me. I look back to see Sharon (behind me again) but catching up quickly. Not again I think.

Then at the top I see Donna Utakis away in the distance. The jelly babies kick in and I am away. I run all the way down to the bottom and then continue running up the next hill. I look around and Sharon is still not at the top yet. Maybe I could try to get to the top of the next hill before Sharon gets to the top of the staircase. I set myself the challenge and run. All the way. No stomach problems, no fatigue, no leg issues.
I run and run. As I go over the hill I look back and Sharon is no where to be seen.
Donna is in the distance still and I set my next challenge. Could I overtake her at the same place she overtook me 2 years before.
I run, nothing is stopping me. I feel light and bouncy on my feet. One minute Donna is a speck in the distance the next I overtake her exactly at the spot from 2 years previous.
What can my next challenge be? I want to make my support team proud and happy again.

I refuel. More jelly babies and a gel and then shoot off. Passed an American guy and someone else. I can't believe how easy this is now. How can I run like this when I was done in just an hour before. As I run I am already making plans for next years race.
Then I catch a glimpse of Thomas. The hill down to Kinlochleven has taken it's toll and he is badly limping. But I am happy for him. He has got this far and he will finish now even if it means he has to walk. We talk briefly but I am on too much of a high to stop for long and I push on.
I catch someone else and then as I enter Kinlochleven I see Rob in the distance. He is walking up the hill and is very surprised to see me. He fumbles for the Walkie-talkie and I can hear him having to tell John twice in disbelief. "Marco is having a storming section. He will be with you in 5 mins"

I am absolutely glowing with pride as I run into Kinlochleven, 30 minutes ahead of schedule for that section. This may work out after all for me I think.

I literally fly into the Community Centre as Neal Gibson meets me. I tell him that there is no way I will beat his 18:42 time. He answers back "i know". There is no way I could get to Fort William in two and a half hours. So I don't even think about it again.

It was great seeing Caroline, Neal and Silke at the Community Centre. The race doctor shouted something over to me but I never caught what it was and was scared to ask again. As I arrived there I saw the person one place in front of me suddenly stand up and tear away. I let him go. I will refuel again and then I will catch you soon enough I thought. I was feeling fantastic and very confident.

Kinlochleven to Fort William
No data as watch battery ran out
18:47:34 total time (95m est)

Running around the corner just before the hill out of Kinlochleven I met my support and made sure I ate a lot. More rocket fuel Jelly Babies and another Gel. I was guzzling the sugar down and I certainly was using it up too.
I galloped up the hill and caught the guy in front in no time. He looked like he was struggling but to be honest so did everyone apart from me. I am not trying to be big headed about this but I really did feel like I was flying here. It was as if everyone was going in slow motion.

The Larig Mor was a tremendous experience. I ran most of it. Dancing around the rocks and running all the way. Now and then I would walk and eat more Jelly Babies. No wonder Angela Mudge swears by these I thought. I couldn't believe the difference between now and the last 2 years. I couldn't believe that my body could run like this after 80 odd miles.

Into Lundavra and I change into my lighter tshirt. It is warm but there is also a strong head wind all the way. My support team are excited. I am so happy that they are now and I am at last doing this race in the manner that they deserve.
But they are excited for other reasons. John and Rob tell me I am in 6th position with Kate Jenkins just in front but struggling badly.
Another challenge I think and I refuel with the magic babies again.
A steady climb and my legs feel as fresh as the start.

At the top I catch sight of a figure in the distance. That must be Kate I think and it spurs me on again. Running like there is no tomorrow. She looks back, sees me and also picks up the pace. Kate is a fabulous runner but can also be pretty scary. I had overtaken her before 2 years ago and I remember asking her if she was okay in which her reply would have made a soldier blush. And so with some in-trepidation I caught Kate and honestly she couldn't have been nicer.
She said that she couldn't believe how well I was running but she also asked where the second placed female was. (Kate was in first). I told her that Donna Utakis was at least an hour behind. Kate relaxed a bit and seemed to go down a gear now and I ran on. I felt bad for thinking that she might be in a bad mood as she was so pleasant.

I ran on through the wood and out at the top of the hill to the most marvellous sight. Ben Nevis and in the distance Fort William. I looked at my watch to check what time I was on. It was the first time I had looked at it since Kinlochleven and it was as dead as a dodo. So much for the 20 hour battery life that the Garmin 310xt is meant to have. I was sure that I was well under the 20 hour mark but by how much. I wasn't sure and by now time was a blur.

I decided to take it a bit easier now and keep some energy for the last straight and have, for once a strong finish. I started to look at the scenery and enjoy myself. I was nearly in tears as I knew I had at last done the race proud with the thought that Dario had helped me from up above.

Just then I heard what sounded like a bear behind me. I looked round still with tears in my eyes and so could hardly make out what it was.
"Donna" i spurted out as I thought it was Donna Utakis. Immediately I thought of the rubbish information I had given Kate. Oh no she was so nice to me. She won't be that nice next time she sees me.
But it wasn't Donna it was Thomas. In utter disbelieve I called out "Thomas". Believe me when I tell you that he was that broken at Kinlochleven that I thought it would be hours before I would have seen him again.

But Thomas didn't answer me. He was completely focused. A man on a mission. So I turned round and ran as fast as my legs could go. Immediately I regretted my decision. Should I slow down and we can run in together I thought. I wanted too but what happens if Thomas doesn't and I have surrendered my lead to him.

As I ran down towards the brave heart car park so many feelings went through my head. I wanted to run with Thomas so much but I also wanted to finish in 5th. But he is my friend and we have trained all year together. I should wait for him.
I changed my mind so many times. I was scared to look back incase Thomas saw it and thought I was weakening. I didn't know where he was or what he was doing.
In my mind I just saw his face totally committed.

I made my decision and pushed on. I had heard before about ultra races that ended up sprints on the last mile and here it was happening to me. God I really didn't want to have to do this with anyone let alone Thomas.

My legs were screaming any moment I feared something would twang. But I had to give it my all. Into Braveheart carpark and my support were there with my Garscube vest.
"No time" I shouted "Thomas is right behind me". I threw my bumbag at John (and felt really bad for doing so) and then ran on.

Moving from the downhill to the flat nearly killed me. The effort was multiplied but I had to go on. My support drove past me. I was praying that they would say that Thomas was no-where to be seen but instead they shouted "Thomas is 10 seconds behind you"
I wanted to look. I couldn't believe that he could have kept up with the pace I was doing down the hill. Was my team lying to get me to go faster? I didn't know but I couldn't look. I couldn't give Thomas the advantage of seeing me look.
My legs complained every stride I took. "where is the effin 30 signs" I cursed.
I wasn't sure I could keep up this speed for much longer but I had to try.
Then there it was. The 30mph signs. Like an oasis in a desert. Nearly there. So close.
I ran at full speed along the road, straight over the middle of the roundabout. I didn't care anymore. I just kept my fingers crossed that the cars would slow down and avoid me.

Then I saw the leisure centre and the glorious finish line. I thought that Thomas might appear at anytime and beat me to it. To be honest if anyone was ever to beat me I would always want it to be Thomas. But after the effort I had just put in I didn't want it to be for nothing.
Into the car park and there was a huge cheer. Up to the door and I was finished.
I was beyond happy. It had been hard work but I had finished it under 20 hours. Actually well under I finished in 18:47:34 and in 5th place. At last a result that I could be proud of.

Thomas finished 2 minutes later. I was even happier that finally he had the race he deserved but I felt guilty that we hadn't come in together.

Richie was there waiting having finished first and proved to be a very popular winner. Over 2 hours quicker than me. Amazing.

Debbie took what must be the best improved time of the year. 10 hours off her PB to finish in a marvelous 20:58:36. The gibbering midget finished in 20:12:29. John Kynaston struggled this year a bit but dug deep and finished in 22:15:02.
This was just some of the amazing performances that people had.

So, it took me longer to finish the blog than the race. But here I am at the end of it. I just want to say thank you so much to my support team. Rob, John and Athole. They were absolutely fantastic. I would also like to thank Mark for all his training help. Helping me to make a plan, coaching me and making sure I RELAX. Also Graeme for helping me with my zones, nutrition and the odd email or 10. I would like to also thank the organisers of the race for all the fantastic work they did and making Dario very proud I am sure.
So many people helped me and listened to me chat on and on about this race. Thank you to you all.

So to next year........


Peter Duggan said...

Hey Marco, what an up and down (or down and up) tale!

Wondering where exactly your 'watch' (310XT?) ran out because mine did 18:50:28 from the start and that should just about have seen you home (allowing something for switching on early)?

Jeroen said...

Hi Marco, amazing story! It shows that pushing on is worth the try, even when you think everything is lost.

A great report I will bear in mind when I am going through my next ultra rough bit of a race....



NORRY said...

Cuppa tea in hand and my dinner plate, i sat down eagerly to read your race report, and by balmha my dinner didnt look that great lol,

great report and well done on fighting back to run a superb race.


Thomas said...
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Thomas said...

Well worth the wait! What a great epic racetale. And you cannot write one without having a great race!

Although your story is full of shit ;-)

Honestly: What an amazing jurney you had. Or better: what a jurney we both had. And even more amazing that we not just ended up having that sprint finish we were always talking about in training (jokingly) but we both also had a struggle to deal with.
And we also shared the fastest last section from KLL. And both finished super strong.

Btw I cannot remember at all where you overtook me before Kinlochleven. I have no recollection whatsoever. And we even talked?

Davie said...

Great report, Marco, and very graphic!
Didn't get to see you at the race, although I was shouting to the GM just north of Tyndrum, just at the car park, and didn't realise it was you just ahead. Marc Casey's wife told me it was you and I had a guilt trip the rest of the day!
Now next year; no toilet problems and Richie will be looking over his shoulder!

John Kynaston said...

Hi Marco

I'm sitting on the veranda of our guest house in Dolphin Bay mid afternoon enjoying a little rest time!

There is wifi here so I've enjoyed reading your report. I read a few bits out to Katrina and we both had a good laugh about your grass stuck in your bum!!

Great report though Marco. With the issues you had I'm sure you've got an even quicker time in you!!

See you soon ... I still fancy that run on the Kilpatricks you promised.

Andy Cole said...

Hey Marco, if that was an easy race your hard ones must have been pretty tough! Great report and congratulations again on the result. "Take care of yourself and the race will take care of itself" - that's a real gem.

Silke said...

Marco, great report and great result for you this year! Congratulations again. If you avoid hiding in the bushes and behind boulders for so long next year, you can easily take at least an hour off! Hope your recovery went well. See you at the Devil! Silke

Ben Melby said...

Mucous huh? Out of your bum? I didn't know that was possible, physiologically. Any ideas about what may have induced this gastric distress?

And I didn't realize you struggled for so much of the race (but managed to finish so amazingly well!). There is certainly a lot of potential there, so keep building on everything you've done already.

Hope we can get some training in together - I'd love to get out in the hills for a run!

Stephen Mulrine said...

I think this epic battle needs be made into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Sylvester Stallone as you and Dolph Lundgren as Thomas.

David said...

Hey Marco, just wanted to congratulate you on an awesome achievement. Was with Athole and Diane this evening and were admiring your blog and description of the 'ordeal' that was the West Highland Way Race. Wanted to tweet about it too, but can't remember your twitter ID. Can you remind me. Want all my followers to admire you too ;o)
Hope all well with you and teh family.
Take care

Amy said...

I like the story of the race it is very interesting. It seems that everybody give their best to the race.


Rumble said...
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Rumble said...

What a fab account!

Anyone thinking of doing the West Highland Way will find this short video clip useful