This Saturday I am running the Highland Fling Ultra marathon which goes from Milngavie (north of Glasgow) to Tyndrum and is 53 miles long. I am doing this race partly as preparation for the West Highland Way race but I do intend to race it too. About a month ago I ran the route with a few others over 2 days which gave me a good idea what to expect in terms of terrain and how to approach the race in regards to food intake and pacing.
I intend to race in a similar way as I ran at the training weekend. Different to what I often do in training I won’t be running with a dedicated run/walk strategy but will use the more significant climbs to powerwalk up these. My watch will be set to beep every 25 minutes to tell me to eat. I intend to powerwalk when eating too.
My cumulative time for this run during the training weekend was 9:40 hrs. My target is to complete the race around or under 9 hours. Based on last year’s results this would place me around top 20. The Highland Fling is one of the biggest ultra marathons in the UK. This year there are over 470 runners on the entry list. Because of this there is a staggered start with runners starting at 6am, 7am, 8am and the relay teams going off at 9am. I will be off at 8am.
In terms of nutrition I plan to take around or just over 2000 calories on board which will be the equivalent of approx. 220 cals/hour (this will be a mix of SIS Go Gels, Cliff Shot Bloks, homemade flapjacks, jelly babies and energy drink; I also intend to have a snickers bar and something savoury in the drop bags as a treat). I will have around 500 calories on me from the start and then reload my backpack pockets at Rowardennan which is at approximately half way. This will take me as far as Bhein Glas Farm where I intend to pick up my nutrition supply for the remainder of the race. The race organisers are setting up a drop bag system so that the competitors won’t have to carry their supplies all the way.
The plan will be to reach Drymen in around 90/95 min, Rowardennan in 3:45/3:55 hrs and Bhein Glass Farm in 6:30/6:45 hrs. The weather will play an important role in this too as we have had quite a bit or rain recently and there is a reasonable chance of rain on the day. When I ran the route a few weeks ago it was virtually bone dry, I expect it to be much muddier underfoot which could have quite an impact on progress. The same can be said for the temperatures. These are factures which will play out on the day.
I am looking forward to the race. It has been six months since my last ultra and this is by far the biggest ultra I will have taken part in.