Ultra Marathon

West Highland Way Race – 22nd – 23rd June 2019

The first night – Milngavie to Tyndrum

We got to Balmaha about 1:45am. Alan set his alarm for 3:45am as Chris and Jagoda could arrive any time between 4:00 and 5:30am. We settled down to get a couple of hours sleep: Ian and Alan with sleeping bags and the front seats down, me stretched out on the back seat with a blanket and travel pillow, the front seats perilously close to me if I shifted the wrong way. I didn’t even bother taking my shoes off.

At 4:15am we headed to the checkpoint to watch for the arrival of Chris and Jagoda, and realised our error in not putting on Smidge first: the midges were out in force, presumably enjoying a veritable feast of a hundred or so humans standing around a car park at 4 in the morning. Some of these humans had enough sense to be wearing mosquito nets. Alan suggested he and Ian could improvise with a pair of tights (not bothering to cut them in half) but though it would have made a hilarious photo there was no time to go shopping for hosiery.

Jagoda and Chris scanning in at Checkpoint 1

Chris and Jagoda arrived at the checkpoint at 4:55am. You don’t get much warning as they’re behind trees for most of it, and I muffed the photos as they were moving too fast for the autofocus, or my clumsy hands. Chips scanned, and we jogged to the car. They were both really smiley at this point, which I’d calculated was 20% of the way there. Someone told Linsey this fact (she’d arrived just a couple of minutes after them) and it didn’t enthuse her. Tea was drunk, rolls added to backpacks, midge repellent reapplied, then Chris and Jagoda were on their way again. Linsey stayed for a bit, tucking into a pot of Oat So Simple as if it were the best thing she had ever tasted. Bedi was hunting for midge repellent for her and asked “Should I spray you or cream you?” This perfectly innocent question made it clear he had never spent any time in Alan’s company before.

Linsey looking elated to be eating some Oat So Simple

Job done at checkpoint 1, we jumped back in the car and Alan drove us to the Green Welly at Tyndrum. It wasn’t a checkpoint, but we’d been told not to turn up at Auchtertyre until 30 minutes before our runners ETA. Plus the Green Welly did breakfasts. The lady in the car next to us had a roof box with all the supplies, and an Estate car. She put down all the seats, and proceeded to blow up an inflatable mattress. She then put on an eye mask and got what must have been the best quality sleep of anyone in that car park. I got maybe an hour and a half, and was more than a little jealous when she emerged looking refreshed around 11:00am.

Loch Lomond around 6:00am

We went for breakfast around 9:00am. I’d bumped into Ruth in the ladies and she said Chris and Jagoda had gone through Rowerdennan together and were looking happy. We got to the restaurant just in time as there was a big queue 5 minutes after we were seated. Alan and I both got the 8-item cooked breakfast, but Ian just had scrambled eggs on toast.

Anna, Christie and Gary arrived about 10:30am and when the car next to us left we acted as human traffic cones in the now crowded car park to ensure Gary could move his car next to ours. This was a long wait and I’d brought a couple of board games to give us something to do. In retrospect this was pointless as we had no seats and no table, so we just hung around talking for a couple of hours (and eating Anna’s excellent homebaked banana bread and anzac cookies). A lady came over to ask if we had an idea for where their team could leave their second car until the Sunday. She had awesome nails specifically done for the race. Another lady came looking to purchase gels. Her husband had decided to try them for the first time during a 95-mile race, and had taken all of hers. Alan gave her all three of his, and refused to take any money for them. She promised to pay the good deed forward by putting a fiver in the next charity box she saw.

This lady got her fingernails done especially for the race

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2 Comments

  1. Frank Benham says:

    excellent well done to all the runners I ran this race in 1988 and 1989 and again in 1993 and was eaten alive every time by the midges even with protection they still manage to get mr

    1. Pauline Belford says:

      Thanks Frank, and well done on completing this race three times. Yes, the midges certainly added something to the experience!

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