race rules and instructions
Registration takes place on Friday 23 June 2017 between 9.00pm and 12.00 midnight at St Joseph’s RC Church Hall in Milngavie. The church hall is located across the road from Milngavie Station, where the race starts. At registration you will be given your race number, which will also be your timing device to be used at each checkpoint throughout the race, and a numbered race band which should be worn until you finish or withdraw.
All runners will be required to show photographic ID to collect their race number. You will be given your goody bag and any merchandise you have purchased, and be given support crew parking permits for the Beinglas Farm and Auchtertyre checkpoints. You will be weighed and given your weighing card, which will need to be produced later at the weigh-in stations at Auchtertyre, Kinlochleven and Fort William.
We would encourage those who are able to do so to register as early as practical, to help reduce congestion later in the evening.
The station car park can get very busy with race traffic. If you are unable to park there, additional parking should also be available in the nearby Tesco which remains open well into Friday evening.
A short race briefing will take place near the start line at 12.30am.
Race numbers will be posted on the website a few days before the race. There will be the opportunity to request a specific race number prior to the race.
The race will start at exactly 1.00am on Saturday 24 June from the start of the West Highland Way, at the bridge beside Milngavie station.
Each runner is required to check in at a number of checkpoints throughout the race. The checkpoints and the cut-off times are as follows:
- Balmaha (19miles) – 5hrs 0 mins
- Beinglas Farm (42miles) – 12hrs 0 mins
- Auchtertyre (51miles) – 15hrs 30 mins
- Bridge of Orchy (60miles) – 18hrs 30 mins
- Glencoe Ski Centre (71miles) – 23hrs 0 mins
- Kinlochleven (81miles) – 28hrs 0 mins
- Fort William (95miles) – 35hrs 0 mins
Any runner not reaching the checkpoint within the allocated time will be withdrawn from the race. This will be based on the electronic timing and all cut-off times will be strictly enforced. It is a condition of entry that any runner failing to reach a checkpoint within the designated timescales surrenders his / her timing card and does not continue in the race.
The only exception to this is where a runner has stopped to help another runner in trouble and this has caused him / her to miss a cut-off; in that case the runner will be referred to the Race Safety Officer or Race Director, whose decision will be final.
All runners will be weighed at Milngavie, at Auchtertyre, at Kinlochleven, and at Fort William. If a marshal is concerned about the condition of any runner, this will be referred to the Race Doctor, the Race Safety Officer, or the Race Director. They will determine what action, if any, needs to be taken: this could include a variety of measures including, if considered appropriate, instructing withdrawal from the race.
Such an instruction would only be given where it was considered necessary for the runner’s own safety, and would not be taken lightly. However it is a condition of entry that any such instruction must be followed, and the decision of the Race Doctor, Race Safety Officer or Race Director is final.
No food or water is provided at checkpoints; it all needs to be carried by the support crew.
Each runner will be issued with a SPORTident Timing Card (SI-Card) at registration. At each of the checkpoints shown above, plus at the timing point at Rowardennan, you need to lay the SI-Card flat over the hole in the SPORTident Timing station and the station will beep or flash. This indicates that a timestamp has been recorded on your card.
This procedure is an essential requirement of the race. Follow the same procedure at the Finish and hand your SI-Card to the SPORTident Timing Team. You will be given a small printout showing your split times through each checkpoint on the route.
Each time you register your SI-Card at a checkpoint, data is uploaded onto the SPORTident webserver in real time. This allows Friends and Family to follow your progress throughout the race, either at home on a computer or on any web enabled phone as they support you along the route.
Details of the website link will be confirmed in nearer the race. This should help your friends to plan where and when they will meet you during the race as the information it provides includes an ETA for each runner at the next checkpoint.
Should you need to retire during the event, wherever possible please hand in your SI-Card at a checkpoint on your route. If you are “rescued” by a support vehicle, please ensure that you deliver your SI-Card to the NEXT checkpoint on the course.
Until each SI-Card has reached the Finish or been handed in at a checkpoint, the event organisers will assume that you are still on the course. Failure to hand in your SI-Card at the event will cause an unnecessary search by rescue teams and you may be barred from taking part in future events. There is a charge of £30 for each SI-Card that is not handed in.
Please ensure you have read, and taken heed of, the medical advice by Dr Chris Ellis on the race website. This can be found at the following link: West Highland Way Race Medical Advice
Specifically, please do not take Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. It is also very important that you note the dangers of over-hydration, and ensure you only drink to thirst. We would advise that you remove all rings before starting the race – we have recent experience of a runner’s fingers swelling badly during the race, leading to their ring having to be cut off.
As in previous years, we are insisting that every runner carries a lightweight space blanket throughout the race. These only cost a couple of pounds from any outdoor shop, and could make a significant difference if you are unfortunate enough to have a fall, particularly if it is in a remote part of the trail.
We are also insisting that every runner carries a mobile phone, with the following emergency numbers programmed in to it:
- Sean Stone, Race Safety Officer – 07768 642314
- Ian Beattie, Race Director – 07939 535523
In the event of an emergency, Sean should be the first point of contact. He will then liaise with the Mountain Rescue team or other emergency services as appropriate. If contact cannot be made with Sean, Ian is the second point of contact.
There are other items of kit that you must have available if directed by a race official, although whether you need to carry them on the day will depend on the conditions at any particular time. These include the following:
- A head torch, with spare batteries;
- Full body waterproof clothing;
- A whistle.
Other recommended items include:
- Harveys map of the West Highland Way
- Small Rucsac/Bumbag or both
- A number of complete changes of clothes
- Various pairs of shoes
- Sunhat/Woolly Hat
- First Aid Kit
- Insect Repellent
- Blister Repair Kit
- Water Bottles
- Bladder and Drinking Tube
- Skin Care
- Toilet Roll
Remember, conditions can vary considerably throughout the course of the race and it is better to carry too much kit in your support vehicle than find yourself short.
No competitor is allowed to use walking poles at any stage of the race, in accordance with the UKA rules governing the event.
Dogs are not allowed to run with any competitor at any stage of the race, nor are they allowed to run with any person who is supporting a runner. This is a condition of our event insurance, and is a standard rule in all Scottish Ultra Marathon Series events.
iPods/MP3 players are permitted, but competitors must be able to hear what is going on around you at all times. Earphones must be removed at checkpoints, at road crossings, when approaching marshals, and at all times when running on public roads. If a marshal signals you to remove your earphones, you must do so immediately.
There will be a facility for runners to leave dropbags for Rowardennan and Inversnaid. Please ensure these drop bags are clearly marked with your race number, and take them to the marked vehicle at the start at Milngavie Station. It will not be possible to return the contents of any drop bag to you after the race.
Litter and general behaviour:
The West Highland Way is a route of outstanding beauty, and we try to ensure our race is well regarded by the West Highland Way rangers, by those living near the route, and by other users. To this end please make sure you do not drop any litter anywhere on the route, but that you carry it with you to the next checkpoint. Please also show consideration for walkers and other users.
Noise during the night:
In previous years we have had complaints from residents at Drymen about the noise made by support crews. To try and address this we would discourage support crews from meeting their runner at Drymen at all.
If you do intend to go there, you must not park either on the main road or in the dead-end road outside the houses. Instead you should park on the road heading down towards Drymen or in the car park in Drymen village, then meet your runner in the field before the route crosses the road. We will have marshals in place to make sure this is enforced.
We have also had complaints in the past from Kinlochleven residents about the noise levels during the Saturday night / Sunday morning. We are very keen to maintain good relations with people who live near the route, so please make every effort to keep noise to a minimum, particularly during the hours of darkness.
‘Low’ route after Rowardennan
Once again for 2017 we will be using the ‘low path’ between Rowardennan and Inversnaid, instead of the high route that has been used prior to 2016. The turn off for the low route is just less than 2 miles north of Rowardennan, and one third of a mile after the gate at Ptarmigan Lodge. It is well signposted.
Area from the top of Loch Lomond to Crianlarich:
Parking in the area between the top of Loch Lomond and Crianlarich is very limited, and we have had problems in previous races with businesses and landowners in that area. This year we are fortunate to have access to Beinglas Farm.
This is an official checkpoint and all crews are required to meet their runner there. Parking space is very restricted, however and only one support vehicle per runner is permitted to access the checkpoint. The parking permit which was issued at registration will need to be shown to gain access to the checkpoint. Please note that access to Beinglas Farm will only be available from 7.00am onwards - do not attempt to access Beinglas Farm before this time.
Apart from the official checkpoint, support crews are not permitted to meet their runner at any point on the A82 between Beinglas Farm and Crianlarich. This restriction includes Derrydarroch Farm, Carmyle Cottage, and any of the lay-bys on that section of the A82. This will be strictly enforced, and any breach could lead to a time penalty or even your disqualification, so please make sure that your support crew are aware of this rule.
If your support crew wants to meet you after the Beinglas Farm checkpoint but before the next checkpoint at Auchtertyre, it is possible to park in Crianlarich, walk for a mile of so up the hill, and meet your runner at the point the West Highland Way comes in to Bogle Glen.
Parking is also restricted at the checkpoint at Auchtertyre. The one vehicle per runner rule will also apply at this checkpoint, and your crew will need to show their parking permit to gain access.
Your support crew should not arrive at either Beinglas Farm or Auchtertyre too early. If they are planning on having a sleep before your arrival, they should do this in a safe place well south of Beinglas Farm, such as the car park at Inveruglas, or even in the large car park at Balmaha before driving round the southern end of Loch Lomond.
It is a condition of entry that all runners must have motorised back up for the full duration of the event. Up until Auchtertyre you need at least one crew member, and from Auchtertyre onwards you need a crew of at least two people, one of whom must be capable of accompanying you during the last two stages if required.
The Support Crew must meet their runner at each Checkpoint. It is the Support Crew's responsibility to ensure your safety between Checkpoints, and they must be prepared to look for you if you do not check in at a Checkpoint.
Faster runners are not allowed to have a support runner at any point during the race, and no-one is allowed a support runner before Auchtertyre farm. You are welcome to be accompanied by a support runner (or runners) if you leave a checkpoint after the following times:
- Auchtertyre – after 10hrs 30mins race time (i.e. after 11.30am)
- Bridge of Orchy – after 12hrs 30mins (i.e. after 1.30pm)
- Glencoe – after 14hrs 45mins (i.e. after 3.45pm)
- Kinlochleven – after 17hrs 30mins (i.e. after 6.30pm)
The check point marshals will advise on whether a runner is able to have a support runner.
If you are ahead of these times, your support crew are only allowed to run with you in the area one quarter of a mile before the checkpoint and one quarter of a mile after the checkpoint, and are not allowed to run with you at any other times. The support crew are however allowed to meet you at any safe point on the route, except the section between the top of Loch Lomond and Crianlarich as outlined above.
Please note that in the event of particularly adverse weather, all runners may be instructed to ‘pair up’ with a member of their crew or another runner for any of the later stages of the race.
Many of the roads on the route are narrow and not suitable for a large campervan / motorhome type of vehicle. We would recommend that this type of vehicle is not used for support, but in particular it is strongly recommended that large campervans are not used to travel to Rowardennan, Beinglas Farm, Auchtertyre or Lundavra. At Bridge of Orchy campervans are prohibited from going down the minor road to the checkpoint, and must park in the car park just before the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.
We have had a number of problems with large campervans in the past, and it is important that support crews use common sense in their choice of vehicle. For the same reason no large campervans are allowed in to the Lochaber Leisure Centre car park at the race finish. We reserve the right to withdraw any competitor whose support crew or support vehicle are causing serious problems for the smooth operation of the race.
The race finish is at the door to Lochaber Leisure Centre in Fort William. The Leisure Centre is about 0.2 miles beyond the roundabout as you come in to Fort William, on the left hand side of the road. At the finish your time will be taken and you will be weighed. Showers are available for runners and crew (this will be badly needed!), and facilities are available to make tea and coffee.
The prizegiving will take place in the Nevis Centre, Fort William at 12 noon on Sunday 25 June. Please try and attend – it is a great occasion where every finisher is presented with his or her hard earned goblet, and helps continue the great ‘family’ feel of the event.
Withdrawal from the race:
A refund of £60 will be made for withdrawals notified on or before 31 May 2017. Please note that it is not possible to defer any entries to the following year’s race.