Yesterday morning my alarm started to beep at a very early 05.30am to wake me up for the Highland Fling Relay! I wasn’t entirely sure what I was about to embark on, needless to say this was completely my own fault as I decided to keep my leg a ‘surprise’. All I knew was that I was going to run on trails for around 14miles and would have to run up and down Conic Hill in the process.
So I headed to a car park in Milngavie to meet the rest of my team. For 6.30am everyone was in incredibly high spirits potentially due to the mountains of cake we had secured in the boot of the car. Making our way to the start Marnie was up first and at 7am along with the rest of the relay runners disappeared into the distance. We hopped back into the car and drove to Drymen to where I would be taking on the relay baton or timing chip in this case.
So after eagerly waiting for Marie to arrive she appeared in the distance and I got ready to dash off on a mini adventure, via a hill or two. I started to run on a gradual assent which would eventually lead me up Conic Hill. It was such a beautiful morning and I had set myself two challenges; to overtake as many relay teams as possible and not to walk up Conic Hill. As I saw the first runner ahead I could see a red number on their back and thus the relay team target that would be part of my catching game for the next 2hours or so. The run up Conic Hill began and as I slowly ran up the hill the views became more and more spectacular. I was almost speechless as I reached the top and had a wonderful view of Loch Lomond. My little running journey continued and as I ran up and down the trails of a truly beautiful and testing running route I couldn’t help but feel a little pang of guilt every time I over took a runner that was undertaking the full shebang. I had the up most respect for all those that were undertaking the full 53 mile race and a little bit of jealously as I wished I was on the same journey as them affirming a burning desire that I have to do an ultra marathon. As I was running along the West Highland Way I fell in love with the trails, I loved the change of pace, scenery and the feeling under foot that I got with every twist and turn of the course. I am used to the monotony and predictability of road racing so this was a lovely unexpected and welcomed change. My little race continued and I kept on ticking off the red targets of the relay runners ahead. My watch then beeped for the 14th time telling me that I was about to end my little run. 14.72miles, 2hrs and 5minutes later with 28 relay teams overtaken I handed over our timing chip to Kay as she began the scramble of the third leg.
Needless to say the day didn’t go without indecent and as we were on our way to checkpoint 3 we may have taken a detour aka getting lost. Luckily Helen’s husband John gave her a quick call to see where we were. He was quick to laugh at our error and put us back on track to head up the west side on Loch Lomond to the final checkpoint at Beinglas. So with one car sick person (me) and one dying for the loo there was a little bit of nervous tension as we made our way to Beinglas as we were cutting it pretty fine to meet Kay for the changeover. As we got to the changeover point Kay arrived what felt like 3 minutes later none the wiser to how close we were to missing her finish her leg! So chip handed over Helen was off on the glory leg and we made our way to meet her at the finish!
We got to the finish line as the first guys and girls were finishing and it was incredible to see the end of the journey they had just undertaken. Nervously waiting for Helen to arrive hoping her foot would hold up she appeared looking very sprightly. As Helen finished we were told by the race organisers that we we the first ladies relay team across the line. What a lovely way to end an awesome day!
I had a fab day running, driving and cheering my way along the Fling course. It was an incredibly well organised and friendly race that is now firmly on my bucket list of ultras that I want to do. Anyone looking for a challenging and beautiful race should without hesitation do this one!