Thursday, 28 June 2012

WHW Race 2012 'AKA We Had Weather'

 What an Adventure we had!!

The WHWR has consumed me for the last 12 months, ever since I watched in amazement the 2011 race. It was an event I had never given any serious consideration of participating in until last year in Fort William as I cheered on the leading participants over the last section from Lundavra to the Sports Centre. Up until this event the longest distance I had run was 56 miles, so to take it up a notch to 95 seemed like lunacy. I enjoy a challenge, but I began to wonder if I had maybe bitten off more than I could chew this time. But I had set my mind on it and was determined to see it through to whatever end awaited me. The preparation for the WHWR  was unlike anything I had previously experienced. It started months before I even knew if I would get a coveted place in the starting list. A few days after the 2011 race I made plans. So in Mid-August last year I looked at my race calendar for this year. I knew that from then up until June this year everything would have to be moulded and carefully structured around preparing and building towards the WHWR. I had a lot to learn and a very short time in which to do so. I'm no Ultra-novice, having run 15 previous Ultramarathons and numerous long distance training runs, but improvements had to be made. Changes to things like pacing, nutrition and mental toughness and attitude had to be implemented. The prospect of running 95 miles back in August last year scared the sh*t out of me and I suppose that feeling stayed with me until 1am on race day. I suppose having this fear was a good thing as it made me respect this event more and take the preparation all the more seriously. The preparation, for the most part, went according to plan. I picked out what events I wanted to use as extended training runs and resisted the temptation of running lots of shorter events inbetween. Less is more. I Identified where I needed to improve by seeking advice from more 'seasoned' runners and set about tackling my issues. The weeks and months flew by and a feeling of panic crept in as I began worrying that I wasn't giving myself enough time to improve. But things began to fall into place and with every long run and event I was improving in fitness, knowledge and confidence.

Fast forward a few months.........

So, food and drinks had been bought, my nutrition plan was drawn up, tapering was in full flow and decisions on kit had been made. With two weeks to go I was all set. Still sh*ting myself though.

I had the Thursday and Friday before off and had planned on sleeping, resting and eating. But in truth I was just too nervous and figidity to sleep. On the Thursday I had taken all my food and kit down to my parents to load into their car. They were my race 'support crew'. I ran through where everything was and gave them a list of what I would be asking for at the various checkpoints along the way. On the Friday night they picked me up at around 10pm and we made our way to Milngavie. The car park was a throng of activity. I headed up to get registered, get my goody bag and race merchandise. I said a few hello's and you could have cut the tension and excitment in the air with a knife. I really just wanted to run now. But with around 2 hours to wait, I would just have to be patient. I walked up to the shopping precinct to show my parents a good place to stand to watch the race get under way. I met a few others including Ada, who commented 'I'm bricking it!', a feeling I'm sure most us felt. A few more hello's before I spotted a large campervan with a large picture of a purple thong on it and 'Team Jonathong' written on the side. This was Jonathan's support wagon. Had a quick chat with him and then with Paul Giblin and his team before going back to the car to check my pack for the umpteenth time.
Then it was race briefing time from Ian and Sean. After this we had 10 minutes to go. Met and spoke to Fiona McD, Victoria O', Bill and Terry and their support teams. Then came the a shout from somewhere that it was time to muster at the underpass. Ian stood above, poised..............

The best part of the whole race came at the underpass before the start. There are several reasons for this.
* I was warm
* I was dry
* I was wide awake and fully alert
* I was totally oblivious to what 'horrors' lay in wait further up the route
* I was in good company
* The underpass was brightly lit
* I was in total control of my bodily functions
* I was clean
* I was excited

In a previous blog posting I had  posed the question 'why am I doing this?'. Peering out from under the brim of my 2XU cap, at my impending doom, I asked myself that very question again. I remembering muttering 'F**k it, just do it' (a catch phrase I must copywrite in case Nike use it). Of the 230 that had entered back in November last year 172 brave souls now stood shoulder to shoulder, probably asking themselves the same very question I had, having seen the weather forecast. The start was adrenaline filled, with a pinch of fear. The 'Klaxon' sounded and 172 headtorches began to bob up and down on their journey. As I climbed the steps up out of the underpass I was struck by the number of people who had turned out at this ungodly hour on what was a fairly minging night. The support was fantastic, which continued throughout the weekend. Running through the precinct to the WHW Obelisk it suddenly hit me 'I'm running to Fort William, holy sh*t, thats 95 miles!'. We turned off the street, over the river, down a short incline and onto a short lit path. Soon, we were in the dark and the adventure had began........
The 20 mile section from Milngavie to Balmaha has always been my least favourite of the route as I've never really had the feeling of being 'out there', until we climb Conic. In the dark I enjoyed it even less. You lose all sense of persepective in the dark, distance and time seem to get blurred and the only real view you get is your own feet or the heels of the person in front. You dare not risk looking up in case you fall over a rock. With only a headtorch to illuminate the path in front, you suddenly feel all alone, apart from the other 171 bouncing lights around you. Although even in the early stages they are becoming distant. I got talking to a few people over the first few miles and quickly learned not to look at someone as they talk to you while wearing a headtorch as it results in temporary blindness and leading to not seeing that low branch that subsequently slaps you full in the face. The weather was pish and every mile felt like three. I ran in a group from Milngavie to Drymen, although now and again some would leave and others would join.
Between Milngavie and The Begs, at Carbeth Loch, things were going fine (around 5 miles). But soon after when the rain began to really let loose, as we rounded Dumgoyach onto the mile and a half staight passing Dumgoyne (approaching the Beech Tree Inn), the path turned into a boggy quagmire with ankle deep puddles stretching across the path. Staying dry was impossible and to avoid the puddles meant running through mud that had the inherent risk of bringing you down on your face. The rain and wind picked up and at this early stage my morale was taking a hammering. It wasn't worth trying to avoid the puddles anymore as I couldn't get any wetter, colder or more miserable! I had thought about stopping at the Beech Tree for a hot roll and tea, but if I had I would have probably thought 'bugger this for a game of soldiers' and gone home. Between the Beech Tree and Gartness it remained the same. Dark, cold, wet, windy, muddy and miserable. My non-running friends have asked me several times what enjoyment I get from running ultra's. If I had been asked that question at mile number 10 at 2.45am on Saturday all they would have got in response would be a blank look. After Gartness we have a 2 mile tarmac section which after the mudfest was heavenly. The short field section to the road crossing at Drymen was everyone for themselves. There was another huge cheering crowd here. After Drymen I pretty much ran on my own until Balmaha, occassionally meeting other runners and ,bizarely, hillwalkers (at this time in the morning! I mean who in their right mind would be out on the WHW in this weather?).
Between Milngavie and Drymen I had passed both Bill and Ada, with whom I would meet and run with throughout the day and it was good to chat to both. I met a few others I knew on the first 20 miles and I'm sure we were all rueing the day we entered considering the weather, with 7 withdrawing by Balmaha. I can't remember when I turned off my headtorch, I think it was just after Drymen. It was crap through Garadhban Forest and it was crap going up Conic.  Coming down Conic was lethal and I zig zagged to try and find a bit that I could get a little bit of traction. I had hoped to get a dramatic and beautiful photo of the sunrise from  Conic. But two thing prevented that.
* There was no sun to rise
* My camera battery (fully charged the day before) had discharged (Olympus expect a letter). This 
   will explain why most of the 'scenic' photos on this blog look suspiciously sunny! (taken from
   training runs, The Fling this year and last years DOTH).
Conic was wet and manky, with the desent being so hairy I was breathing through my bottom. With Balmaha being the first checkpoint this was the first time I had met my parents since the start. It was Midge hell here, with most people in the car park looking like they were all wearing a burka. After 20 miles I was soaked to the bone, so I decided that seeing as it had, temporarily, stopped raining that I would change into dry shoes, socks, t-shirt, jacket and hat. Everything except pants! DOH!
 My parents would see if they could try and dry my gear for further along the route. As I had some Pea and Ham soup (full of chicken), I chatted to Neal who was waiting on his wife Caroline to arrive. I met Neal a couple of times during the weekend and he always offered great encouragement, having run the race before. When I changed  into my dry stuff I think every bit of exposed skin became a buffet for a midge assault. So maybe it had been a good idea keeping my pants on! I had more red lumps from bites than I could count. I had been a bit grumpy at Balmaha, so my apologies to my folks.
Dry, warm, fed and watered I left Balmaha, 5 minutes over my projected time. I wouldn't see them again until Auchtertyre in 9 and a half hours time. Until then I would have to survive on my drop bags or pillage from the dead by the roadside.
I'm not sure of my splits for Balmaha-Rowardennan, Rowardennan-Inversnaid or Inversnaid-Beinglas. But between Balmaha and Beinglas, a 21 mile distance, I was 50 minutes behind schedule, probably mostly due to phaffing around at checkpoints and doing what bears do in the woods. I still felt reasonably strong but just a little sleepy. I left Balmaha car park and someone shouted my name, sorry I didn't see who it was. Between Balmaha and Rowardennan things went well and were uneventful. It has a few steep climbs but because it was so cold they didn't cause any problems. It was wet and muddy underfoot and predictably my feet got wet within ten minutes. I didn't see too many other runners on this section and I think only two passed me. It was raining again as I approached Rowardennan and I felt a bit drained from the lack of sleep and was a bit cold. I laboured as I ate my custard and cake and couldn't face my jammy roll. I didn't want too hang around too long as the cold was begininng to bite. The first few miles from Rowardennan to Inversnaid were spent power walking as it climbs a lot and it just wouldn't be sensible to try and run the hills so early on in the race. On the first long climb I couldn't shake off my sleepiness and I took a few minutes out at the bench view point. I had something to eat and a drink, slapped myself a few times and ran down the long downhill section before the next climb.

 (The two photos above were taken by Karin McKendrick and her friend Brenda)
I knew I would have 'low' points, but didn't expect one this early. Thankfully I perked up around a mile from Inversnaid and things were going ok. I stopped on the bridge over the falls and let the spray splash my face to refresh me a bit, even though it was still raining! I could feel the vibrations flow through me from the thundering water over the rocks. An awesome sight. I ran to the checkpoint and got a warming hug from Karin McKendrick. I managed to get a seat while I ate a creamed rice pud and a chocolate spread filled roll. There were a few others arriving at my back, including John (Johnny Fling) Duncan and Victoria Shanks, who left before me. Part of my pre-race plan had been to make sure that I had a proper stop at checkpoints and not allow myself to get bogged down by how many folk passed while I ate. Inversnaid to Beinglas is hateful enough in the dry on a summers day (blink and you'll miss it!), but is pure chuffin misery in this weather.
I ran with Sonny for a few miles along this section and we gradually caught and passed a few runners that had left before us at the checkpoint. One girl fell in front of us when we were passing some walkers, we checked she was ok and that nothing was damaged. Luckily she had only landed face down in the mud and not onto one of the many rocks strewn on the path on this section. Lucky girl. It was muddy as hell and getting any kind of grip was difficult on the wet rocks. The hill down towards Doune was just a river and it was here we caught sight of John and Victoria just in front. Like many runners today I stopped to pat Darios post and couldn't help thinking that he was probably laughing his head off at the sight of all these wet muddy runners, but also satisfied that so many 1st timers were still battling their way along the route. I was so grateful when I caught a glimpse of the Drovers and then Beinglas and it was nice to see Dinah here marshalling. The midges pounced on me as soon as my ass hit the seat. I had a milkshake, rice pud and flapjack and was on my way again. Victoria arrived just as I was leaving and then Bill and Ada arrived too. John had left just seconds before me having a very quick stop here as he was running well. Despite being 50 minutes behind schedule I wasn't worried and had no intention of push harder just to make it up.  I caught John and ran just behind him for around 5 miles, but near to Keilator he suddenly found a new lease of life and he was out of sight. He gave me a moment of hilarity near Derrydarroch when he suddenly appeared to be dancing while he ran. Maybe he had on an Mp3 player, I couldn't tell or maybe he was hallucinating that he was 'up the dancin'!
There were a few supporters braving the midges at the Bogle Glen junction. Thankfully the rain had washed away most of the sh*t from coo crap corner at Keilator. It was on the rollercoaster that I reaised that not putting on another pair of calf guards at Balmaha was a mistake as they were burning a bit and on the many ups and down up here my quads began to do the same. It was somewhere up here that Bill caught up with me and we ran into Auchtertyre with another two runners we caught after crossing the A82 at Strathfillan.
I was freezing, wet and hungry. My parents were here. I got weighed and decided I needed to change again. My parents had managed to get all my wet gear from Balmaha dried, including my shoes, using a hair drier (top job). Up until now I had been running in shorts so decided to change into full length tights with shorts on top. The heat and comfort was instant, Ahhhhhhhhhh. In addition I put on dry shoes, socks, long sleeved top, jacket and hat. It's amazing how you can be revitaised by a simple change of clothes. At Auchtertyre I was 65 minutes behind schedule. I had soup, a roll and milkshake here. Bill and a few others had left before me as I spent around 30 minutes here. The dry shoes didn't stay dry for too long though as the river crossing at Tyndrum put paid to that. Since the race I've heard several stories of runners being told to bypass the river at the 'By the Way' and use the main road through Tyndrum, I must have missed that Memo!! I nipped into Brodies on the way to get a choc icecream, which was brilliant. On the climb passing the graveyeard I caught sight of Victoria again. She was with Ian, her husband, walking up the hill. I gradually began to reel them in, but near to Auch farm Ian must have cracked the whip and they pulled away.
Ada caught up with me at Auch Farm and then we caught up with Bill. Ada went ahead and as me and Bill approached Bridge of Orchy station Sue and Fiona appeared behind us. We met Thomas at the station waiting on Silke to arrive. Got to the checkpoint at the bridge and had something to eat and drink. I didn't spend too long here as the next section to the Ski Centre over the Black Mount is my favourite WHW section and thought I could make up some time as I was 2 hours behind because of my longer previous stop at Auchtertyre. I didn't want to loose any more time on this long section, which I didn't, well I did, but just 1 minute.
On the climb out of BoO I spotted 'Jonathong' catching up so I put the foot down a bit before he saw me and pulled away. At the cairn on Mam Carraigh I saw a Scottish Saltire fluttering in the wind and knew that it could only be one man, 'Murdo the Magnificent'! He had built his own small cairn as well to mark the 100th km point of the route and gave me a jelly baby to celebrate this. After some fantastic encouragement from him I headed down the hill (Murdo stood up here for 10 hours!).  On the desent I passed 5 runners, including Ada and I got to the Inveroran Hotel feeling like I had a second wind. On the road round to Victoria Bridge I passed Sue and then Victoria who had Rhona running with her. Shortly after the gate at Victoria Lodge I spotted Fiona Rennie and her support runner. I caught and passed them a few minutes later. I was feeling great, my spirits had been lifted and my legs felt good again. I enjoyed the Black Mount section and opened a sizable gap on those behind for most of it. Despite the rubbish weather the scenery was fantastic (damn camera!).
Just below the cairn on the Mount I saw Ian bounding downhill on his way to takeover support duties for Victoria. I think Ian should seriously consider next years race, with all the running and walking he did over the weekend I think he would do very well. When the Buachaille came into sight I sent a quick text to my folks asking them to get ready for my arrival. It was around 8.30pmish and was getting dull now as the second night was approaching. I checked in with Karen Robertson and then had food and a cup of tea.
Still two hours behind schedule having not lost any additional time on the Mount. I took my headtorch as it was getting dull I knew there was no hope of getting over the staircase before darkness came.
From the Ski Centre to Altnafeadh it's a straightforward run where I passed two runners I didn't recognise, both going well. At the carpark at Altnafeadh I met Thomas again so I knew Silke wasn't far behind. The Devil's Staircase was brutal after having run 75 miles by now and I ran with another runner up this. I stopped a few times as my legs were burning but it was a steady, albeit slow, climb. Someone then appeared to run with this other ruuner, his support, so I stuck with them up, over and down the other side. This was purely for safety reasons as i still felt I was going ok. Night fell quickly after we topped out and the torches were soon on as it was pitch black very quickly.  During the desent rocks began to glow and look like animals  and if I looked too long would start to run around! That'll be the sleep deprivation hitting me. Although stopping to talk to and clap rocks may be seen as going a bit mental! After a few self induced slaps I carried on. I slipped a couple of times, but nothing problematic. I then had a few moments of quiet panic as I found myself on my own, having run ahead, and thought I had gone the wrong way. I didn't remember the desent into KLL taking this damn long during the 'DOTH' race last year. The rocky path kept twisting and turning, going up and down and then back on itself. Was I going in circles? I thought I had taken a wrong turning and was maybe on the path to the dam. With no sign of other headtorches I kept going, but walking, listening for anyone approaching or for the faintest of lights. Nothing. So I began to jog and then my torch caught a WHW post. Thank christ for that. The sense of releif I felt poured out me. But again the path twisted and turned. I came to a junction with no waymarker. Bugger! Now where?, I just couldn't remember. Then the two I had passed on the desent arrived who were just as confused. But luckily another runner appeared, who I nearly blinded with my headtorch. In what I think was either a Dutch or Norweigian accent he said ' I'm nearly sure we go this way, I think, yes?', 'You're asking me?' I replied! 'Yes, I think we go here'. Well at this point being 'Nearly sure' was better than my 'Sh*t, where am I?' So we followed him, safety in numbers and all that. Around 5 minutes later we could make out the pipelines on our right so instantly knew we were going the correct way. Soon after the first lights from Kinlochleven began to twinkle. For the first time in about two hours the muscles in my ass could ease off. That was a tough desent, more due to not being sure if I would ever be seen again. As I approached the road bridge over the river I saw my parents waiting and we walked into the checkpoint.  I met Neal here again waiting on Caroline. I was now 2.5 hours behind but that was unsurprising due to my navigating rather than my running. But I knew I had 14.5 miles left having run around 80 and a bit in 23 hours 45 minutes. I would finish. I got weighed by Julie and then fed and watered. I had my last change of clothes, including socks and shoes.
 It was pitch black so I couldn't see what the weather was doing but decided to pack full waterproofs just in case. I also decided to take a small handheld torch in addition to my headtorch for this last haul. On the way out of the car park after some encouragement from my parents, I met Silke and Katrina (J.K.'s wife). Katrina was Silke support runner over the last section.  Then another group of 3 runners appeared. They ran just ahead so I decided to catch up and run with them up the hill. It's a very rocky steep hill out of KLL and involved a few 'river' crossings on the climb so within a couple of minutes my feet were wet again. It wasn't until after the Mamore Lodge road crossing that I caught the group of three, one of whom asked if I wanted to run with them, I said yes please! It wasn't long until we saw headtorches ahead and soon caught Silke and Katrina just as we reached the 'Wilderness Rescue' guys. We had a group photo and carried on our way. The soles of my feet were taking a battering on this surface and I felt a blister bursting. I ran alongside Katrina and chatted for a few mniutes but i knew she was itching to get up to Silke and quite rightly so. So after a few minutes I slowed down and let Katrina disappear into the night. It wasn't long until their torches were tiny pin pricks. I began to stumble and trip and then wallop doon I went! As a result i had pulled my right groin muscle quite badly and after the initial cursing and swearing I knew that had put an end to any resurgence on the final section. This was somewhere near Tigh na Sleubhaich, around 83 miles. So I spent the last 12 miles limping, swearing and feeling sorry for myself. And I was a bit annoyed that a Sub 30 hour finish was going to be impossible, but I would finish. Wouldn't I?
I was determined to finish. I could have woosed oot and chucked it at Lundavra, but after putting myself through hell I was damn sure going to put the head down and push on. I wasn't ill or had a serious debilating injury, it was more of a painful inconvience, so keep going.  I would probably never have forgiven myself if I had bailed within spittin distance. When I got to the next Wilderness Rescue post I was getting pretty gubbed and it was getting tougher with the sore groin as I couldn't lift my foot that high off the ground which made getting over the rocks on this section very hard work. I was asked if I was ok and I remember muttering something and asking how far to Lundavra. I was told 2.5 miles, which felt like 25. By the time I got to Lundavra it was now light and a few supporters were here, although they were all very quite! They too must have been knackered. The once blazing bonfire was burning itself out.
No one had passed me since Katrina and Silke, 7 or 8 miles ago. It wasn't until just entering the forest after Lundavra that Sue passed me and two others. I was determined nobody else would. But as I couldn't run I knew that eventually somebody must pass. After climbing the felled forest I think it was Dawn that passed me with her support, and that was it until the end. At the top of the climb you can see down Glen Nevis, albeit very grey and misty. It's downhill until the finish and I knew my quads were going to love me for this. I began talking gibberish to myself with the occasional 'COME ON! (which I stole from Pauline and Fiona). A few folk passed me walking uphill going to search for their runners. I began to weave about and I kept running with eyes shut, which I wouldn't recommend. My mouth was wide open and I was dribbling with the occassional 'Mmmmmarghhh' coming out! I sent a text to my folks to say I was nearing the Braveheart. Got to the Braveheart and got some words of encouragement from Fiona MacDonald who had to withdraw at Balmaha after a bad fall resulted in a melon sized ankle (speedy recovery). It was 2 miles to go. I kept glancing behind me to make sure nobody else would pass me. I then thought my brain was going awry again when I saw my mum and Paul Giblins mum in front of me. But it was real. 
They 'jogged' alongside me for a couple of minutes and then went on ahead, thats how slow I was now moving! I wasn't going to walk over the line, so forced a very painful jog into the carpark at the Leisure Centre and hit the doors. YeeeeeeeeeeFeckinHaaaaaaaaa!!!
My brain was fried and my body a car wreck.  I didn't know how to react at the finish and it's still just a blur what happened at the end. But 95 miles later in 30 hours and 50 minutes I had run from Milngavie to Fort William in horrendous weather conditions. I was chuffin over the moon. I staggered into the changing rooms and had a shower. Getting dressed was a struggle and I was relieved I had only one blister and very minimal chaffing. My groin muscle was the only concern, but it'll heal in time.
I was 'hank marvin', so after failing to find anywhere in the town centre, opted for a bacon roll and tea in Mcdonalds. After that it was back to the car to wait for the presentations and a sleep while I waited. I was totally drained. After meeting the Giblin family again we headed into the Nevis Centre for the presentations. It then suddenly hit me that I had done it. A years worth of training and prep had paid off. I had earned my Goblet. Earned it the hard way. Bloody hell!
Up until the presentations I hadn't known who had made it and who hadn't, so as the names were read out one by one it was fantastic to see so many that I knew had achieved their goal. As the parade of funny walks continued I couldn't help but get a lump in my throat at the enormity of our achievement. It doesn't matter if you were 1st in a record time or you were 119th across the line. Many of those who had had to withdraw were to which was fantastic. I know they were disappointed, gutted and upset, but how many people have the courage and balls to even step over the start line. So I think they have also earned the right to be very proud of themselves.
It was a special day for Pauline Walker as well, being inducted into the '10' Club (10 WHWR finishes), of which she is only the 6th member and the first female to do so. Her sister Fiona will join her next year.
So as Ian read out the names and their finishing times I felt my palms getting clamy and it all felt unreal.
'And in 100th place in 30 hours and 50 minutes, Colin Knox', 'Wow thats me!, Oh crap getting out of this seat will be sore'
Luckily I wasn't too far away from the front so it didn't take too long to stagger to the stage to get my 'precious' Goblet from Sean. It was mine, at last. WoooooooooHooooooo!
(The photo immediately above was taken by Victoria Shanks)
And then it occured to me, 'Now what do I do?' I spent so long being consumed by this race, thinking about it, preparing for it, and now i had done it. It was all over...........for now.
I watched the remaining finishers get their reward and despite many limping, shuffling or being wheeled to collect their Goblet, I'm sure many will be looking to repeat it again next year. It's a fantastic gesture that the winning runner presents the final runner their goblet and I suppose that re-inforces the family bond that this event has. We're all in it together.
With the presentations now over it was time for this family to go their separate ways for now. I managed to talk to  few people on my way out and exchange our stories of pain and suffering.
 It was great to see so many I knew grasping their goblet. I'll cherish mine. The memories may fade but every time I look at the chunk of crystal I'll be proud of what I achieved. I shuffled to the car, said a few more goodbyes and was heading down the road. I held onto my Goblet the whole way home.

What an Adventure we had.

There are so many people I want to thank. Top of the list are my parents for being my support crew all weekend. They thought I was off my Heid when I announced my intention of doing this. But didn't hesitate when I asked them to crew for me. I know it was tough on them, probably tougher than me running, having to worry about my welfare in that weather didn't help. They did a fantastic job looking after me and encouraging me. So I wanted to make sure I finished it for them. I can only hope I wasn't too grumpy. So a massive thank you to them. Infact, well done to all the support crews that took part.
Without my crew I wouldn't have finished and thats true for all the runners. Three cheers for the Crews!!! (I feel a phone call coming on regarding the two above undignified photos!!!)

Well done and thanks to Ian, Sean, John and Chris (Dr. Ellis) for such a fantastic weekend. The logistics in running such a major event must have been enormous and to pull it all together is an amazing achievement. So between bomb scares and the weather must have made for a stressful weekend behind the scenes. Thanks guys.
To the marshalls, volunteers and other supporters, I salute you. Giving up a full weekend and more to stand out in those conditions takes a lot of dedication. I was stunned by the encouragement you gave all us runners and by the help at the checkpoints along the route. Heroes all. It helped that most of them were runners themselves and knew exactly what to do and especially what to say to spur us on our way.
Thank you to the Wilderness Rescue guys camped out on the Lairig Mor and the team at Inversnaid. The guys on the Lairig have a special kind of toughness to be out there in the dark all night.
Thanks to the Sponors for again backing the WHWR which would be a difficult event to run without them. Long may they continue to provide their assistance.
Two people I owe thanks to are John Kynaston, for his advice and encouragement through the podcasts we did over the last few months. And to Karen Donoghue for putting me on the right nutritional path by advising and suggesting. Thanks guys.
And a thank you to Ross from Quaker Oats for the HUGE box of Porridge sachets he sent me out a few weeks prior to the race.
To all the runners who started in Milngavie, well bloody done every one. The conditions were not what we had in mind but we put our heads down and got on with it. I'm in awe at every last one of you.
So, now a couple of days later, I ask myself was it worth it? Hell yes. Life changing? Not sure, but it certainly has made me appreciate what I have so much more, life is for living and for participating in rather than spectating. I'm sad it's over. Would I do it again? Well, for now I won't answer that until it's fully sunk in and I can assess them impact it has made. However, already the 'what if's' and 'if only I had done this or thats' are rattling around inside my head. I hope everyone enjoys a few days off for rest and reflection. All the washing is done and the kit is away. I haven't really analysed my run yet as I was just delighted to finish. My Goblet now sits alongside my Cateran Quaichs and my DOTH shoe. I keep going over to touch it, just to make sure it's real. So far, it's still there.
The weather played it's part. A big part. The lack of sleep affected me in strange and unusual ways! I probably spent too long at some checkpoints but it was worth it to be dry for a wee while. I did a fair amount of swearing at myself during the weekend as I don't have a mantra.
Now I'm in no man's land, what now? Oh yes, the Devil O' The Highlands Race. Where once again I'll be hauling myself up the staircase and up on Lairig Mor, but i'll be doing so with a certain amount of smugness this time.

I'm away for a sit doon and relax. I think I've earned it!


  1. Yet another excellent blog -it brought back so many memories of my run. It's funny my favourite bits are inversnaid to Bein glass and the descent to Kinloch(its never there) leven.
    So well done mate.

  2. Well done Colin. Was good to see you finish and collect you well earned goblet. Well done mum and dad Knox for taking the photos. Team Giblin forgot to take any pictures of Paul during the race. Recover well. Best wishes

  3. Well done Colin. Was good to see you finish and collect your goblet . Well one to mum and dad Knox for remembering to take photos. Team Giblin forgot to take ny pictures of Paul during the race in spite of having four cameras.

  4. Great blog Colin and well done on another magnificent run.

  5. Congratulations Colin. Life changing? Oh definitely! But you won't know that until next time you're in tough situation, the resolve and strength that you've honed over those conditions will see you through anything.
    Enjoy that goblet. xx

  6. Colin, great run, great post. Was delighted that you bagged such a great race. You have a lovely support team too.

    Hope you've recovered well and getting ready for the next one.

    See you on the Braes soon I hope.