My first A-Race of the year is less than 2 weeks away. The West Highland Way race starts at 1 am on Saturday June 22. It is a 95 mile run.

During last year’s race I had to retire from the race after 75 miles due to the conditions which meant I had started going hypothermic.

The preparation for this year’s race has gone well. Although I have done nearly 100 miles less mileage YTD than I did up to this time last year I believe I can draw from the run365challenge which I completed in April. I have also had a larger number of back to back runs most notably a 3 day run up the West Highland Way over the Easter weekend which went extremely well.

Last year I never got round to recceing the Northern half of the route so it was great to cover that part of the route at Easter. Running up to the Fort William Leisure centre (the doors are the official finish) on a spring Sunday evening and imagining doing the same several months later gave me huge satisfaction and a feeling of completion. It was a huge boost for this year’s race.

My target for 2013 is basically the same as for the 2012 race: To complete the race in under 20 hours and therefore cross the finish line before 9pm. The recce run at Easter gave me an interesting insight as I didn’t feel I ran particularly fast on any of the 3 days but my cumulative time turned out to be just over 18 hours with an average pace of around 7 min/km.

This did give me a sense of: I could do even better than “just” sub 20. It is a long day (a lot can happen) and sub 20 will be my target. Above all that though the minimum target is to finish. If I don’t meet my A, B, C, D or E target (if I had that many) … I still want to finish and walk up on stage on Sunday just after midday to pick up my goblet.

Last year the weather threw a spanner in the works that I wasn’t prepared for. This year I am better prepared for that spanner. Thanks to some kit sponsorship from Likeys I have extra clothing to keep me both warm and dry. I’ll do some kit reviews once it has been used and tested.

No doubt this year’s race will now be warm and dry on the day. I can cope much better with warm (Scotland usually doesn’t do hot) conditions than cold. I noticed this during the Cateran race this year wear we had quite a mix of warm and cool conditions and under the warmer conditions my legs were notably happier.

Mentally I believe I am better equipped for this year’s race. I have raced and finished a number of races in the last 12 months – nearly all in the top 15 – in varying conditions the toughest of those was the D33 which had similarities to last year’s WHW. The Cateran race had its own challenges with wind, heat and rain.

Over the past year I have perfected one nutrition strategy which took me from strength to strength in autumn and tried out a new one this spring with some promising results. The West Highland Way will have a bit of both allowing for more flexibility. The new strategy being more focused on low carb which I have mentioned in some of my recent run reports. The “traditional” nutrition approach will feature as a back up later on. So I intend to focus a lot on real foods this year.

This year I have a bigger support team with a team for the Southern Half comprising of my girlfriend Fiona and my dad Elmar and a team for the Northern Half comprising of one of Fiona’s friends Sue (who was also part of the team in 2012) and my mate Gareth who will be my support runner. Well he hopes to be my support runner as this should be his last long training run ahead of the Celtman Extreme Triathlon in which I will be his support runner. I have forewarned Gareth though that if I am too fast he may not be allowed to join me (runners are allowed a support runner from Auchtertyre – 50 miles into the race -except if they are within 4 hours of the leader). The Celtman is on July 6th.

I am looking forward to this year’s race as I feel ready for it. I am trying to taper and as most people who try to taper I am struggling as I want to carry on exercising. The great weather we are currently having isn’t helping – not that I am complaining. The 4:30 hour cycle Fiona and I did yesterday was just what was needed during a taper ;).

I have all my kit, just need to stock up on the food for the race weekend and work out what I believe I want to eat when and hopefully look forward to said food when I get there.

We have a room booked for the pre race evening so that we can chill, get registered and chill a bit more before it all kicks off, so plan to arrive in Milngavie early and possibly have dinner there too. I have also ensured that I don’t have any work in the 2 days leading up to the race so that I can remove any unnecessary stress ahead of the start. Hopefully I can get a bit of day time sleep this year ahead of the 1 am start.

My schedule will mean that I will have a much slower start to last year and therefore hopefully move through the field later on. The 7 min/km mentioned earlier should be a pace I want to see on my watch from the start – not the 5:30 min/km I was recording in the first 10k of last years race.

I plan to have a great race and if it doesn’t turn out to be a great race I plan to make the most of it nonetheless!

An early good luck to my fellow competitors. See you on the start line in less than 12 days time.

The race this year for the first time will have chip timing and splits will be uploaded to this site during the race so you can follow my progress and that of other competitor if you fancy seeing how we are getting on.