I camped with my family at the Glen Nevis campsite, we travelled up on the friday evening to make a weekend of it. This meant on the saturday I had time to go and check out some of the route.
The race starts at 9.30 from the Nevis Range (Ski centre) car park where there is a coffee shop and plenty of room to get parked. The route starts with an uphill on gravel track and this meanders through the forest, every now and then you get a glimpse of Ben Nevis between the trees. The track is wide for most of the way apart from a couple of little sections where you are being tickled by the ferns. There was one boggy patch where I sank into the marsh and started to question my choice of road shoes over trail. Once you reach Spean Bridge there is a short road section where traffic was being stopped to let us cross followed by a couple of miles on narrow forest track up to the Commando monument. From here we were on road for a few miles and this section is mostly down hill allowing for some faster running. This is where you reach the 13 mile marker which always gives me a lift as I know I can soon start counting down the miles to the finish. The scenery is fantastic at this point with the rolling hills and Ben Nevis in the distance. After a while you reach the Caledonian canal at Gairlochy and I was pleased to be handed an isogel as well as water at this station, I had brought some of my own but wasn’t sure if they were going to last me. I had a bit of a sore stomach the first half of the race and couldn’t face the solid food I had brought. Running by the canal is just lovely. The tow path is very smooth and the coolness and tranquility of the canal was very soothing. This is quite a long stretch of the race and I settled into a comfortable pace and even passed some of the runners that had overtaken me in the early miles.
Once you get to Neptune’s staircase the route is back on roads and takes you back towards the Nevis range. At one point you are running along a road straight towards ‘the Ben’ and this took my mind off my legs which were starting to complain at this point. Once you pass the Fort William golf club its not much further before you take the road that leads to the North face car park. After this you are back on forest track and quite a lot of it is uphill. I was feeling really tired by this point and had to dig deep to keep running as quite a few people had started walking. Runners were encouraging each other and there was a real sense of camaraderie in this last section of the race. The trail comes out again at the car park and just before the finish someone shouted ‘don’t forget to smile as you cross the line!’. I was very happy to be finished and get in under 4 hours. This isn’t my best marathon time but due to the hills and the challenging terrain I was happy with my time and glad to see Billy, Daniel and Michael waiting for me at the finish. You get a t-shirt, medal and a miniature of ‘Ben Nevis’ Whisky as well as a tunnocks caramel wafer and the standard banana and bottle of water. I didn’t carry any drinks as there were water stations every few miles and gels available in the later stages of the race.The race was very well marked and marshalled and chip timed. The weather was great for running with a little cloud cover and no rain. I finished in 78 out of 292 in a time of 3.55.35. This was a new race and I think the organisers did a great job, this is one I would recommend. 🙂