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Frank Skachill finishes West Highland Way Race!

18/06/2011

On Saturday June 18th it was the start of the hardest and most challenging race on the Scottish running calendar when Frank Skachill of Dumfries Running Club lined up with 160 other competitors for the 95 mile West Highland Way race from Milngavie to Fort William.

With a 1am kick off competitors have to conserve energy in the night time early stages so that they don’t burn out and need to make sure they have sufficient food and drink and resources to tackle such a daunting event. With a top class back up crew of club mates Marian McPhail, Les Hill and Sandy Shankland, Frank was in capable hands as the first two have completed the race with distinction in the past and Sandy has been a very experienced helper for many ultra distance challenge events. Safety is paramount as all entrants have to carry appropriate clothing and they are weighed meticulously at checkpoints throughout the event and if they have lost close to 4% of their bodyweight they are compelled to withdraw on health and safety grounds such are the physiological demands of this event.

Frank ran carefully in the early stages through the night and negotiated the tricky Loch Lomond section during the morning where the rough underfoot conditions were made more challenging and muddy after above average rainfall over the past few weeks. As the race went on Frank’s iron will came to the fore and he was determined to focus and concentrated on maintaining his pace past Bridge of Orchy, over Rannoch Moor and up to Glencoe. As the night closed in over the Devil’s staircase his back up crew helped keep his spirits up and kept him focussed on reaching the finishing line. The section after Kinlochleven was especially tough with wet muddy boulders to be tackled in the early hours of Sunday and it took Frank over 3 hours to complete the penultimate seven miles to Lundavra but he then astonished his back up team by getting faster and managed the last seven miles twice as fast and he got to Fort William in the early dawn light and completed the race in 28 hours 28 minutes in 81st place, a remarkable achievement. After a few hours sleep and a hearty breakfast Frank received their commemorative race mementoes at the midday prize giving where every finisher’s performance is celebrated in an event where every ounce of stamina and fortitude is needed to complete the course.

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