Sunday, 9 October 2011

West Highland Way Race?

I went for a 'recovery jog' up around arthur's seat this week. Since California I've developed even more of a hatred of mind-numbingly monotonous treadmill running and have missed being out in the elements. I never thought I'd start to enjoy runnning in harsh conditions such as the heat we dealt with through Napa, or the Scottish wind and driving rain, but those are the things I've begun to enjoy most. A far cry from the days when I refused to go out in a slight breeze or took shelter from hailstones under a Mull bridge (although they were pretty painful).

I've been thinking recently that if I can master getting enjoyment from running in all elements, have a firmer grasp on the kit that works for me, and now have more experience at pacing myself through the variety of ultras I've done this year maybe an attempt at the full West Highland Way race next June would be a natural progression. Although not a particularly natural thing to do to your body. For those that don't know the Race folows the 95-mile West Highland Way from Milngavie in the north of Glasgow up through Tyndrum then Glencoe to reach Fort William, with 14,760ft of ascent. There is a 35 hour time limit, and many runners hope to finish in under 24 hours. The male course record (Jezz Bragg) is 15hrs 44 and the female is held by Lucy Colquhoun at 17hrs 16. There have only ever been 5 women who've finished in less than 20 hours, since the year the race started in 1986. It requires motorised backup and a support team of at least 2 people. I've never thought I'd want to attempt this, especially not after the damage I did to my feet last Highland Fling, but I think the raw challenge of it has been slowly seeping into my consciousness, finally becoming an active consideration this month when I found out entries are taken from 1st November.

If any of you lovely lovely friends are free the weekend of 23 June next year and would be up for a different kind of weekend supporting me for a day or so up the WHW do let me know! This is if I am given an entry - with only 200 places, the race is growing in popularity every year and entrants must pass a strict entry criteria: Automatic places will be granted to the following:
• Entrants who have completed 5 or more previous WHW races
• All previous winners of the race, male and female
• Any entrant who, in the opinion of the race committee, has made or is expected to make a significant contribution to the race's overall success

All entries will then be reviewed by the race committee, with the race committee placing each entrant into 1 of 3 categories:-
1. Those who they consider have sufficient experience to take part in the race (fully qualified)
2. Those required to provide further evidence to the committee that they have or will have sufficient experience (provisionally qualified)
3. Those who do not have sufficient experience (rejected)
The decision of the committee is final.

On the theme of amazing friends, thanks to all of my lovely Edinburgh people - firstly for the surprise gathering organised on my return from California and secondly for feeding me delicious meals for what seems like all of this week! Particularly dangerous whilst taking a break from intensive training but incredible nonetheless. Dont think I need to eat for a week now :-)

So anyway I would love to hear anyone's advice on taking on the WHW Race next year.

And as Ric Elias says, don't postpone anything in life:

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