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Devil of the Highlands

06/08/2011

The Devil O’the Highlands 43 mile race was the target of 5 members of Dumfries Running Club on Saturday 6th August.

This sold out event with a field of 150, the 7th counter out of 9 in the Scottish Ultra marathon series, is a tough challenge from Tyndrum to Fort William on the route of the West Highland Way and presents myriad challenges with a course that passes Bridge of Orchy, traverses Rannoch Moor to Glencoe with the steep climb over the Devil’s Staircase and sharp descent.. The rocky, technical final climb out of Kinlochleven saps the legs of all participants but the first glimpse of Ben Nevis through the trees can provide fresh impetus with the knowledge that the end is close. The 6am kick off unfortunately is not too early for the midgies who impeded runners and helpers in the early stages.

Paul Hart started the race well and was a close second reaching Glencoe in 2 hours 8 minutes and looked in good form over the Devil’s Staircase but a recurring foot problem forced him to change plans and he dropped out at Kinlochleven so that he would not harm his chances in future races. Ian Brown, running in the colours of Tynedale Harriers, thoroughly enjoyed the early stages reaching Glencoe full of running in 10th place and got stronger in the latter stages and reached Fort William in 6th place as first supervet in an outstanding 6 hours 32.

Alli Wilson was paced through the first section by Frank Skachill with Marian McPhail close behind and she built on this solid platform by reaching Glencoe in 2 hours 46, negotiating the Devil’s Staircase with ease and powered on to her debut in the event in 7 hours 26 in 28th place. Frank and Marian used their ultra running experience to maintain a steady pace over Rannoch Moor with Frank in 2.54 reaching Glencoe 12 minutes ahead of Marian but in the second half Marian gained from her conservative start, pushed on and reached Fort William in 8 hours 30. Frank ran carefully past Kinlochleven, mindful that it was only a few weeks since his epic West Highland Way race and he finished comfortably in 8 hours 48. Congratulations are due to Jonathan Muir of Dumfries who also completed the race in 80th place in 9 hours 19 minutes. Many thanks are due to the support of club members Vicky Hart, Stephen Mohan, Peter Hutchinson, Craig Malcolmson and Sebastian Pflanz who kept the runners fed and watered through the checkpoints and on to the finish.

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