Highland Fling Race Report

On the quest to do something a bit different, a mate mentioned, “Why don’t you have a go at the Highland Fling?”.  Have you ever seen my dance moves was my initial thought, but no it wasn’t a dance on this occasion but the Milngavie to Tyndrum Multi Terrain Ultra – in hindsight learning the dance may have been easier !

Well in for a penny in for a pound better get a bit of training in.  Did some internet trawling, loads of different theories but the  consistent thing being basically, it’s a long run, a very long run !!

Tweaked my marathon training and steadily added miles and time each week, with speed and place not really being a factor, I concentrated on time rather than anything else, with the intention of building to 5 hrs 30 mins which would equate to roughly 35 miles as my final long run.

Training went well with a steady progression upping my running time by 30 mins each week, mostly doing the same route, Penicuik to Balerno via Eastside then Water of Leith and up to my work at Liberton, or vice versa, lots of opportunities to add or subtract miles and a good varied terrain with a bit of hills.

About a week before my last long run, which I have scheduled for 25th March , stupidly climbed the school gate and did something to my hip.

Rested it for a week then thought I’d give it a go, okay for 20 or so then torture for 10, I was hobbling past Carlops when a vision appeared – well Stuart and Lorna.  Through the torment, and then dragged me into the car and took me home.

Got Physio and decided best plan of action was to rest, not the best preparation no running for 5 weeks but no real choice.

Made the decision with a week to the race that I’d give it a go and came up with plan should I need to pull out.

Big day arrived up at 0430 bit of porridge then a gentle nudge to Mags my supporter in chief and off we went, her bleary-eyed and me a nervous wreck.

The race is unsupported with drop bags at four points on route which allows you to run with out a pack should you wish, most runners had a least bum bags though.  I decided in each of my bags would be jam sandwiches, honey,banana and peanut butter sandwiches, flapjacks, water is provided at each station, took some advice about hydration and decided on Diorolite tastes awful but cheaper and more effective than sports drinks, had practised eating in training so no probs with eating on the run, bit weird at first but you get used to it.

Arrived at Milngavie, promptly downed Ibuprofen and Paracetemol, emptied a can of deep heat on my hip donned my compression shorts and more suitable pair on top to protect my modesty and crossed by fingers.

At Registration I was given timing chip, which you put on your wrist.

Bumped into Tim Doyle just at the start, which is in the rather incongruous setting of a subway tunnel.

0700hrs on the dot and off we went through a shopping precinct – weird.

Into some woods and a rather pleasant 10 miles to Drymen good underfoot conditions and gently rolling, Drymen is the first water stop and timing point quickly filled my bottle and off.

Out of Drymen and through forestry and up the major climb, Conic Hill, which would be fine normally but with 40 or so miles to go it was a bit daunting, steep descent into Balmaha, the views coming down were awesome.

Balmaha first drop bag and met Mags briefly gulped down the food and hydration then onto Rowardennan following the loch my companion for the next 20 odd miles.

Strangely found this section tough, I think the initial euphoria was over and it dawned, would the injury hold up and the medication work.

Made it to Rowardennan in 4hrs and 32mins and was in 89th place, same routine bit of food and hydration and off.

Rowardennan to Inversnaid was great with some glorious trail running in the most beautiful of surroundings.

Now the tricky bit, a very technical section out of Inversnaid narrow path with bit of scrambling really difficult to get any rhythm or momentum, seemed to last ages but eventually path flattened out and could get running again.

By this time it was getting warm and with the loch behind us the breeze had dropped and temp was rising.

Made it to Bein Glass farm at 40 miles in 7.48 and had maintained my place.  Was feeling quite good and a bit emotional knowing I was probably going to make it.

Left Bein Glass feeling strong, but not for long.

The final 12miles seem to go uphill forever and the underfoot conditions aren’t great, lots of rocks and generally pretty rough ground, the last 40 miles had caught up with me and I was struggling, pace went right down and resorted to walking up the inclines.

The race had moved from my legs to my head and the mental battle was on.

I was also aware by this stage of being and becoming more dehydrated in hindsight hadn’t taken on-board enough hydration, everday’s a school day and wont make that mistake again, managed to replenish my bottle once at stream but it wasn’t enough.

Finally after what seemed an eternity met Mags about two miles out and she gave me the encouragement to keep going, it was just what the doctor ordered and pushed onto the finish to be met by a piper at the finish line – I had made it!!

A cold beer was thrust into my hand and medal round the neck.  Oh, and a t-shirt and a bottle of bubbly; talk about at £12 bargain entry fee.

Shuffled in to the car with a bag of chips and home.

Sorry it’s a mammoth blog you’re probably thinking is this in real time !

On reflection just glad to have managed to complete it.  During the training I had hoped to finish in 10-11 hours.

Final time was 10hrs and 45mins and 101st out of a field of 400 plus starters.

Tim Doyle was 231st in a time of 12:29:10

Me crossing the finish line!

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8 comments on Highland Fling Race Report

  1. Linda Poustie says:

    Well done Mike, enjoyed reading your blog.
    It takes pure determination and grit to do the Highland Fling Race and perhaps a little madness 🙂
    A well deserved bottle of bear at the end (and the other stuff).
    Mags – come on let him run the West Highland Way, we can be his support crew.
    Linda XX

  2. Gillian says:

    We think your AWESOME……………..
    What an achievement Mike, so proud.
    The Lloyds xxx

  3. julie says:

    Mike you are an inspiration. Well done !
    From your very proud sis Julie x

  4. The Wife ! says:

    Fab effort Husband ! Fab effort to Tim
    Dont even think of doing the full one next year !!
    I had a great day though, the weather was glorious and the views amazing. Stopped at Balmaha for a picnic , then drove to the finish line at Tyndrum , for another picnic !!

  5. bill bennet says:

    Fantastic efforts by Mike and by Tim. Just to put their endeavours into perpective, Dave Cairns and I walked the West Highland Way in 1997 and it took us about three and a half days to reach Tyndrum. Mind you we toured Glengoyne Distillery and a few pubs on the way which added to the distance and the difficulty. We got the hydration just about right, however, well we enjoyed it; and we drank a little water also. Congratulations chaps.

  6. mikeb says:

    Hi gilly

    Cheers, Mags would throttle me even if I thought about it


  7. gilly says:

    Well done Mike – fantastic effort,. Tough race at the best of times, never mind with an injury. Glad it held out! West Highland Way next?

  8. Rob says:

    Respect and hats off to you both
    Some of us can only dream of such self abuse

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