This is not a post about the how the Highland Fling Ultra is a race of two halves (which it is). This is a post about the good and bad with a bit of race experience and thoughts thrown in.
The Highland Fling has a reputation of being one of the best ultras out there. A family like experience with a beautiful route. Perhaps when the events of yesterday finally subside I will also see it as that.
But for now…..
I started at the very back of the last wave. In hindsight I shouldn’t have done this. The first 10 or so miles were flat. Full of bottle necks. Busy. Really piggin’ busy.
And I think it was this that put the first seedlings of irritation in my mind. I was not enjoying it. I was bored. But I kept telling myself that it’s an ultra and eventually the field will spread out and I knew that hills were coming. I just needed to be patient.
Eventually the first hill came, I was starting to enjoy the race, my hill power walking was reaping the benefits as I power up the hill with ease, overtaking people struggling to breathe. It was good!
However they all overtook me on the downhill! 😂. I was too scared of the rocky path but I remained positive and told myself that I need more practice on that kind of terrain.
I carried on.
The drop bag points were exceptional. So well organised. It was great to have a happy bag waiting for me. It’s funny how a slug puts a smile on your face.
I plodded along until around mile 27. Then it all changed.
The path around Loch Lommond is very similar to the Windermere path in Lakes in a Day. Lots of scrambling, almost impossible to run (for me), but with more undulations. After the 3rd or 4th scramble I jarred my knee. A mild twinge to begin with. It didn’t stay mild.
I’m pretty sure there was about 13-14 miles of this damn terrain. With each scramble my knee screamed, my mood deteriorated, and my language got pretty bad! I was not a happy bunny.
Eventually I left that section behind and we were back on some form of path. A rocky path with lots of muddy sections but mostly runnable. And of course lots of undulations. Unfortunately my knee did not like the uphill. The downhill wasn’t too bad. But by this point I was in such a fed up mood I just wanted to finish.
I kept plodding on.
By mile 45 ish my legs were aching but energy wise I felt ok! (Thanks Janson). By mile 47 I knew the end was near and thankfully more runnable sections. I overtook quite a few but also got held up by more damn bottlenecks 🙄. When you know you’re in a good place to keep pushing but you’re hindered, it really is frustrating.
But I got past 😛.
The finish was pretty good. Not an experience I’ve had before. It felt like my own personal fanfare. Red carpet, so many cheers, a fast finish, fantastic goody bag, a cold beer. Hot showers were waiting for us. Excellent support.
Met the minion, had a shower, lost the minion for 2 hours. Had no phone, money, knee was swollen, hungry, tired. Ended up in full floods of tears being looked after some some guy. Eventually found said minion but by this point I was so low….
I wanted the day to end.
I finished in 12:24 ish. I wanted 11.30 but I’m still happy. My overall ranking is ok. I know it could have been better but we shall not dwell.
So yes the event is amazing but I hated a lot of it.
Will I be back? If you asked me yesterday I wouldn’t have been too polite. But after some sleep…..🤔.