We asked a group of West Highland Way veterans what advice they would offer to those attempting the West Highland Way Race for the first time. Between them, our veterans have more than 100 goblets which means that they know what they are talking about.
In this edition our first ten give us their best advice
|Name||first WHW Race?||Goblets?||top tip for first timers?||What is the biggest mistake or worst experience?||Why the West Highland Way Race?|
|Craig Hamilton||2011 as a runner 2004 as a support runner||8||Don’t think about the total distance, just focus on the next checkpoint||Biggest mistake was overdressing and cooking myself from the inside out, I then ended Up absolutely freezing, completely messed me up that year||I think the feeling on the start line, anticipation fear, doubt, have I trained enough, have I trained too much, getting to a checkpoint, seeing faces you know, the adrenaline hit when you know you’re going to finish the bigger adrenaline buzz when you cross the line... BANG ! You’re a wreck|
|Lorna McMillan||2013... still the best day of my life 😀||3||Relax, enjoy it, and smile!! Oh, and make sure you get plenty sleep in in the lead up to the race!||Not getting much sleep the Wednesday and Thursday ahead of the 2015 race... I was struggling to keep my eyes open from Conic onwards... horrible!||I love the family spirit... and also feeling of tracing a line along a great length of Scotland with my feet. Then, the drive back down the road from the finish to the start, just gazing out the window, thinking ‘I ran all that’! Love it!|
|Pauline Walker||1997||9 goblets, 1 paper weight, 1 rose bowl and a decanter||Unless you're going for a podium place, find your comfortable pace and take it back a smidge. Plan what you think you might want to eat and build in flexibility (lots of flexibility!)||Not taking a head torch leaving Bridge of Orchy, this was back in the day when the race started at 3.00am and it was pretty dark when I arrived at Kingshouse.||The challenge and the "family" who go above and beyond to help each other.|
|Karen Donoghue||2009||4||Do back to back long runs every 2 weeks, lots of hills and plenty time on feet.||Getting chased by a huge cow across the bridge at Derrydarroch Farm and launching myself over the bridge and needed to get Stan Bland help me back over. It was all Stan's fault!||The family feel. It's a very special event.|
|Karen Robertson||2011||2||Listen to their crew. Their head is in a better place than yours.||Being unable to eat. Throwing up, getting dizzy, hallucinations for hours.||I was asked to crew (run) for a runner. Loved it so much. Pretty much took over my life planning & training.|
|Mark Caldwell||2005?||6||Don't give up, moods and bad times in the race pass like weather systems or rain clouds. It doesn't matter where you are in the race you will experience high and lows. Expect both.||Ate too much. On various races it's caused sickness, nausea, GI troubles ++ Being force fed by crew is often the problem. You don't need very much to keep going, little and often. Hydration is far more essential to get right!!! Practice practice practice.||It all a fantastic whirlwind journey from registration , to the effort to run /shuffle 96 miles along the finest long distance trail in Scotland, to reaching (hobbling to) presentation of the Goblet in front of the WHW family|
|Keith Hughes||2002||12||Go slow at the start and then slow down but keep going at all opportunities - walking with your food will get you 1 mile up the way in 15 mins, sitting on your arse gets you nowhere||Stopping too many times for too long in first time race, not eating enough early doors||Fantastic scenery, great challenge and chance to ask yourself some questions about your resolve resilience and character whilst sharing the outdoors with some lovely people|
|Neil MacRitchie||2004||15||Enjoy it! I've forgotten how many times I said "never again" during the race, but for some it is a one time only race, so you might as well enjoy it. To enable enjoyment it's probably wise to have done some training, but for those who don't expect to challenge the podium don't put unnecessary pressures on yourself, focus on finishing and enjoying it, anything extra is a bonus! The memories live so very long, so make them happy ones!||Biggest mistake: injured before the first time I did the race, didn't manage a training run longer than a marathon after Easter, but started anyway as there was "no way I'm entering this more than once" and knew I'd be overseas the following year.... Finished in last place that year, possibly should have waited until I was fit to run (but having said that, that year has many of my strongest memories, and no-one has had better value for money, in terms of hours on the trail, out of their entry fee since!)|
Worst experience: don't ignore chaffing at mile 45 just because you're going for a good time.... it doesn't end pretty!
|Sometimes it's difficult to put something so special into words, it's partly a feeling of belonging, getting to share an event with some of the very best people, both crew and runners. It's partly down to the team feeling, there might be one runner but they can't do it without their back up crew (and I've been so blessed with mine over the years, and it's given me so many special memories). It's definitely partly about the route; not just the "classic" nature of it, and the fact it's a hard but achievable challenge, but also some of the magical sights you see on the route; from the headtorches in the mist going round dumgoyach, to looking out across Loch Lomond and the Highland boundary at daybreak from the top of Conic, the beauty of the wooded lochside trails, the ruggedness of Rannoch on a glorious midsummer Scottish afternoon, or the realisation, just the once, heading down into Kinlochleven that you might be on for a decent time. And then the Sunday morning, with the feeling of a good soreness in your legs, the family meet up and celebrate each and every achievement. And then there are the memories throughout the rest of the year, bringing a flash of a magical experience into otherwise dull days, but keeping the experience alive until the next time. I genuinely look forward and value the race weekend more than any other in the year.|
|Bob Allison||2003||11||Don't go off too fast. Don't waste time at CP's. Have a race and support plan. Manage yourself physically and mentally. Focus, stay positive, keep moving forward and smile. Run your own race. Enjoy the adventure.||Approx 1.5 hrs after my 2008 race finish I collapsed in the Premier Inn room bathroom. Falling hard onto the unseated toilet pan rim. Breaking 3 ribs and puncturing my lung.||The iconic Scottish historical route and the scenery. The friendly camaraderie and 'family' feel of the race and the presentation from everyone involved. It's just epic!|
|Lorna Maclean||2011||3||Don't get carried away with pace early on. Chances are if you pace the first half well, you'll pass a lot of people in the second half who scooted off too fast at the start...be patient.||Poor footcare pre race led to shredded feet during. Learned the hard way the importance of a footcare regime.||For one weekend in the year, you get to escape reality and just relax and play with your pals.|