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Highland Fling Ultra Trail race

26/04/2014

Saturday April 26th saw the running of the 9th Highland Fling Race - a 53 mile trail/mixed terrain race from Milngavie to Tyndrum along the West Highland Way. Six members of DRC were involved in this year's event and here is how they got on....

The race can be conveniently divided up into 4 main stages (and so the race can be run solo or as a 4 person relay team). The first stage is on a relatively flat, runnable mixed terrain route (including some ankle deep bogs and many gates) to Drymen. The second stage climbs up over Conic Hill and then undulates along the side of Loch Lomond to Rowardennan whilst the third leg is a rather technical trail along Loch Lomond side to Bein Glas farm requiring much use of the hands for scrambling over rocks and lowering yourself down the other side needed. The final section is rather a sting in the tail as it involves climbing high up above Crianlarich, before descending towards the finish at Tyndrum.

Jo Zakrzewski had company for the first 8 miles of the race but thereafter found herself alone for the ensuing 45! She moved into the lead in the ladies field shortly after Drymen and then never looked back. She felt that she faded somewhat in the latter stages of the race, but the jury is out as to whether this was due to a lack of long training miles, or to a nausea inducing crack to the head caused by straightening up too early in a railway underpass! However she managed to hang on, and much to her surprise actually increased her lead on the following ladies to finish in 12th place overall in 8:30:29, the 3rd fastest ever time for a female in the race.

Jacob Tangey crossed the finish line with a gun time of 9:35:32, but had made things more difficult for himself by accidentally missing the official race start, so setting off well behind the rest of the field. This certainly enabled him to enjoy views from the top of Conic Hill, whereas Jo had had to endure 10 metres visibility and rain. Jacob's chip time for the race was 9:25:17.

Craig Malcolmson started off at a challengingly fast pace, but struggled slightly in the latter stages. As befitting the nature of the race he was encouraged to keep going by a fellow competitor as the pair teamed up to run together for the last 20 miles to reach the finish in 10:52:06.

The race was used as the Scottish Athletics ultra trail championships and so Jo took home a hard earned gold medal. Unfortunately the three DRC clubmates were not allowed to count as a team, as championship teams must be comprised of same sex runners.

In the relay event, Gemma Leadbetter and Jo Needham were in action running legs 1 and 2 respectively, whilst Susan Gallagher marshalled an early road crossing then acted as sweeper for the last 26 miles of the race from Rowardennan to Tyndrum.

All runners agreed that it had been a great day out and there was fantastic camaraderie and support en route.... made even better this year by runners' numbers also being marked with their name, so cheers were individually directed.

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