Hoka Highland Fling – 53Mile Ultra

The 2016 UK and Scottish Ultra Trail Championships.

 

Race Breakdown

Distance- 53 Miles

Total Elevation Gain-7,526ft (2,294m)

Time – 10:35:59 (chip)

Position – 165/625 finishers (chip)

Terrain – There was a lot of it. 90% varied trail and 10% road.

Aid Stations – 5 in total with 4 drop bags. All fantastic!

Race organisation – The best organised race I have ever been in. The logistics of          organising such an event must have been some undertaking and the 180 volunteers were all absolutely fantastic.

Atmosphere – I have never met so many funny people in my life… I couldn’t stop smiling the whole way round! The volunteers at the aid stations were so cheery and the fellow runners cracked bad puns and jokes all day. The people really do make this race! No litter was dropped at all on the trails either. Ultra people are awesome!

Why the Fling?

I had been hunting for a good 50Miler to stretch myself a further and it was Fiona in our running club who spoke so highly of the event and after checking out the website and fantastic wee cheesy video my mind was made up. 53 miles, through some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery.   Who could say no? I have never been on any of that part of the West Highland Way before. It would be an awesome new adventure! I was not disappointed!

MILNGAVIE TO DRYMEN – 12.6 miles

5:30am and the Milngavie train station is full. Nobody here is waiting on a train. The 700 ultra runners are excitedly jumping about keeping warm before the horn blows and they are set free to hammer through the town. Standing in our pens at the start, it all became very real. I had 53 miles to run over unknown terrain that had been described as “technical at bits” (we will get to that!) but it wasn’t a bad feeling, I could hardly hold back the excitement and so when the horn sounded me and Bruce fired off like excited puppies.

Coming out the start tunnel there were a few supporters lining the street to the start off the West Highland Way track. The start is flat and very runnable, which meant we could push it just a little bit more and so we took off at a decent pace, tackling the initial hills with gusto… far too soon to slow down or walk! 😛

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Milngavie quickly falls behind and before you know it you are cresting a hill looking over some amazing countryside with the sun rising at your back. So like any Scots person, a hint of the sun meant t-shirt and shades on!

Cruising into the first checkpoint and it was time for a quick loo stop and then off again!

DRYMEN to BALMAHA- 19.8miles

Things where starting to heat up now and the sunshine was fantastic!  Special thanks to Johnny fling and all the volunteers for pulling that one out the bag!

Cruising along at a more sustainable pace, we came within sight of the first hard climb. The I-Conic hill (get it? badum dum tss). After the hard climb we were rewarded with the most stunning view! AND!! One hell of a good decent into Balmaha (sorry Keith I ignored your advice to take it easy)

Again hammering into the Balmaha checkpoint I picked up my first yummy drop bag. Chocolate soymilk never tasted so good. The volunteers and crowd were fantastic, cheering us in, filling my water bottle and opening packets for me as I ate. You guys were awesome! 😛 so after a short munch I packed the rest into my bag and took off again along the path with Bruce.

BALMAHA to ROWERDENAN27.2miles

We started hitting rush-hour now as we passed by a lot of walkers and cyclists making their way over the west highland way.

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It was awesome to be next to the water but a bit daunting to know you have to go all the way to the top and beyond! Breaking it into checkpoint sized chunks though I set my sights and plodded on 🙂

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The terrain started out pretty flat but the further along the loch we got the more technical and the more undulating the path became.

ROWARDENNAN to INVERSNAID- 34.4miles

After more excited marshals and some super cheery crowd folk I hit Rowerdennan, had a quick munch and walked and ate my way into ULTRA territory.

Feeling fuelled I picked up the pace again as much as possible over the next technical section

INVERSNAID to BEINGLAS – 40.9miles

The final loch section was a tough section. The legs were getting heavy and there was a lot of climbing and technical terrain.

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Coming away from the loch you climb a steep hill are met with a fantastic view back over what you have just run. That really makes you feel epic!

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BEINGLAS to TYNDRUM – 53miles

A quick change into my club vest and I downed a couple of gels, it was time for the final slog.

The slog… This was a difficult section! My legs felt super heavy but I powered on, with encouragement from fellow runners.

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I ran a lot of the last leg with a lovely girl from down south (she won St Cuthbert’s Way I believe) who was great fun to run with and it was great to have a chat with her and her Fiancé’ on the bus!

The closer I was getting to the finish the queasier I was starting to feel.  I had taken to many gels at the last checkpoint and was not feeling 100% but luckily Bruce caught up with me and spurred me on to the finish were we ended together!

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What a fantastic finish! Running round the campsite and down the red carpet was a fantastic feeling with the bagpipes blaring and the crowd cheering you in.

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My Mum and Melon were waiting at the finish line for me and I felt super happy to see them! Medal on, more layers, more food, and a short nap later I was feeling grand!

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It was great to see so many familiar faces at the end of the race including the amazing Dundee Road Runner relay team who done an amazing time of 9:09 coming in 12th! 🙂

Official Photos taken during the race! 🙂

Finally, I just want to say a huge thank you to all the amazing organisers and volunteers who gave up their time and money to put on such an amazing event that really does capture the personality of the Scottish ultra running community and make it such a fun day! I hope that if I miss the boat next year I will be able to lend my hand in helping with the event. Thank you to all the drop bag people who went above and beyond at the aid station to get you fed and watered. You guys are fantastic.  A huge thank you to Bruce for not only putting up with me for the night in Milngavie but also spurring me on over the final mile and giving me the needed kick up the backside! HUGE thank you to mum and melon for coming and supporting me as I crossed the line on my longest run yet! 🙂

  WHAT NEXT? St Cuthbert’s Way 100k Ultra! 😉

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Love – Live – Run and get out and hit them trails!

Thank you for reading!

Follow my progress on Instagram – @jordan_love_live_run

Twitter – @J_YoungPhotos

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