The summer solstice last weekend brought with it the West Highland Way Race, the most prestigious event in the SUMS (Scottish Ultra-Marathon Series) calendar. The choice of date is intentional as it provides the greatest amount of daylight, which is the sort of consideration made when planning a 95 mile race with upwards of 14,000 feet of ascent and descent. Those that are fortunate enough to be accepted for entry into the race take to the start line in Milngavie at 1am, knowing that to finish they must reach Fort William within the 35 hour time limit, along a route that appears better designed for midges than for running.
Malcolm Hughes was the sole representative from Linlithgow Athletic Club amongst the 193 starters for this year’s event, which included runners from a variety of countries and even one from as far away as Japan. Starting in the darkness, Malcolm soon got into his rhythm but began to get frustrated with the swarms of midges that converge on the route in decent weather. Donning a midge net at Balmaha allowed him to concentrate on the race again however the rough terrain along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond proved not to his liking as he lost a few places.
In the second half of the race Malcolm fared better, even if his body did not. A long stoppage at Glencoe was required to treat some severe blistering on each foot, with question marks over whether the race medics would allow him to continue. Once patched up though he was given permission to proceed, which meant climbing over the Devil’s Staircase as darkness began to fall again and into Kinlochleven where he would require further treatment. Still in darkness he set foot again taking on the steep climb out of the town and along the Lairig Mor and even managed to pass a couple of other runners before finally reaching Fort William in daylight in 141st position in a shade under 31.5 hours.
The inaugural Bannockburn 10k, a race set up both to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and raise funds for the Eilidh Brown Memorial Fund, was held on Sunday. The organisers stated in advance that they couldn’t promise the sun but could guarantee a scenic run. The weather played its part though as the sun shone down on an army of runners amassed in the town having travelled from all corners of the kingdom. Bryan Grome represented the club along a course that proved hilly but rewarded athletes with some stunning views of Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. In a field of 850, Bryan came in 187th with an official time of 49:53.
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, Bryan Grome and Scott Hyslop competed in the Gartmorn Dam Duathlon, the first of a 3 race series with the distances getting progressively longer each time. The course is all on woodland trails and in a wonderful location, with a few hills and tricky sections on the bike leg and began with a 3.7k run, then 5.9km bike and finishing with a 1.7km run. Scott was 6th placed overall in a time of 40:53 and Bryan 1st in 50:49.
On Wednesday, Paul Dudchenko, David Mason and Jill Horsburgh were three of the 123 runners competing in the Red Moss Kips hill race. The course is roughly 10.5km across a route in the Pentlands that starts near the Red Moss nature reserve, and takes in the hills of West and East Kip, before a descent back to the start. In warm and dry conditions, Paul finished in 48th place (55:00), David was 59th (57:16), and Jill was 105th (1:14:22).
At Falkirk Parkrun, Scott Hyslop finished in 13th place (20:18) and Paul Dudchenko was 19th (20:58).
Weekly Race Report >