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Highland Fling 53mile Ultra Race

30/04/2011

One of the most challenging yet scenic races, the Highland Fling took place on Saturday 30th April and attracted several of the ultra runners of Dumfries Running Club eager to test themselves on the 53 mile route. Run on the first part of the West Highland Way, this trail race started at Milngavie near Glasgow with the first relatively flat section past Mugdock Country Park towards Drymen. After that the runners climb Conic Hill by Balmaha and negotiate the rugged eastern side of Loch Lomond towards BeinGlas farm beyond the northern tip of the loch. The final section involves twisty climbs as the route reaches the final destination, the village of Tyndrum where very welcome bottles of ice cold beer await.

Now in its 6th year the race has become very popular and attracted a field of 383 starters as well as 40 relay quartets and this year was a selection race for the UK runners in the National Championships. With various ages group runners starting on the hour between 6 and 8am and relay teams kicking off at 9am it was difficult to judge progress in the early stages of the race. While the top two Andrew James and Jez Bragg raced each other all the way with both beating the race record to finish inside 7 hours 15minutes, pace judgement, stamina, eating and drinking appropriately and sheer willpower in the latter stages were the requirements for completing such a demanding race, especially as the temperatures hovered around 20 degrees centigrade for much of the day.

The best DRC runner was Ian Brown in 48th place in 9 hours 52 which gained him the prize as second male over 50. Debutant Dale Jamieson ran well too, finishing in 80th place just over half an hour behind Ian. In 190th place Susan Gallagher had an outstanding run with all her excellent early season training getting her round in 11 hours 49 and Frank Skachill and Marian McPhail ran together in the difficult final stages with both crossing the line in 12 hours 29. Newcomer Alastair Bloxham started relatively quickly but hung in over the tiring final sections to cross the line three minutes behind Frank and Marian. The warm temperatures caused many runners to struggle with dehydration and upset stomachs and Sebastian Pflanz and Craig Malcolmson were among the 20% of the field forced to drop out in order to conserve their energy for future races.

With the very popular relay event filling up 7 months ago, the only DRC team was the Breen family team. First up was Mickey Breen who had an excellent run on leg one, the fastest of anyone in the entire race and he handed over to brother Kevin who kept the pace going to Rowardennan in second place. With brother David unable to run his place was taken by fellow student Ally Bradley who got the team to the third checkpoint in third place and handed over to Stephen Mohan, the last minute replacement for dad David. Despite an unscheduled stop for several minutes to help an injured runner who needed medical treatment the team reached the finishing line in 7 hours 59 minutes in 4th place overall. Many thanks are due to David Breen, Dawn McDonald, Pat Malcolmson and Mary Pflanz who fed, watered and supported the runners at several sections along the course.

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