By now, guess most of my friends and blog followers will know that I will be attempting my longest trail run this year, as part of my "final drop of water" into my running bucket list. To finish off what myself as a runner dream of and to do it while my body is still capable, this "final drop of water" is known as the West Highland Way Race, a 95 miler (152KM) from Milngavie, Glasgow through and across the highlands to Fort William at Scotland.
The idea came early last year upon receiving my medical report which in a way wasn't really favourable. And at that point of time, I scrambled in search of races such as this and eventually came upon it since my first trip to Scotland was still fresh in mind at that point of time. With my close relationship with Scotland and my friends there, I knew this was the one. And back in October last year at Jedburgh, I met up with Ian Beattie, the race director and knew I need to put my name into the ballot. And on 8 December 2015, the results was out, and I was selected among 265 (61 applicants were put on waiting list, 2 withdrew and 20 rejected).
Taking place during Scotland's summer season on 18 June 2016, the most tricky part leading to it will be that it actually takes place 3 weeks after Comrades Marathon which I will be running too. And this year being the "Down" run which is my weaker direction, I will need to go easy on the race itself to make sure I will still have the legs to tackle the highlands. Yes I am greedy for both races are equally important to me but I will just be aiming for a finish rather than a good result. My training regime has been set out to accommodate both races and although not much has change despite a slight increase in running distance, much resistance training has been added in to ensure overall body strength. And to accommodate the slight increase of running distance, I've signed up for more races this year to help with training, with the first one this weekend. Most will be long with 2 of them going through half the day and night which will be crucial to tackle one of my weakness, sleepiness. And with all the training required, I am glad I've some "crazy" friends to train together with.
West Highland Way Race.
There will be 6 cut-offs between the start and finish. Though I only ran from Glencoe to Tyndrum back in November last year, I do not know how the terrain will be like. While most will be rocky with some rocks as huge as tennis balls, certain sections will be muddy and with roots making it rather technical. I can only listen to the information shared by my friends and do my own homework from there planning out my run pace and also my nutrition intake, hence it will be challenging.
My gears are more or less ready which most of them with thermal properties and also water repellent and proofing. Yes, they were all prepared way before my acceptance in this race and this time, I can finally put them to good use. There will be no trekking poles allowed though.
After years of hibernation, finally a chance to use this stash of gears.
A few concerns for me will include my ability to stay awake for the race starts at 1AM which will leave me with 2 nights to tackle for. Coffee may help but the question is how much can I take? And the other will be the cold temperatures as although it's summer, it will still be very cold for my standards with the night dipping to zero or maybe even below it. Day may range from 15C to 20C though. And with the race being in summer, midges will be another concern. I've not seen midges before but I was told that they are very nasty little pest (even smaller than sand fly) that comes in swarms which bites can be extremely irritating. Will need some insect repellents or even DEET to minimize their bites.
But anyhow, to address the concerns above will be my amazing crew who will be supporting me for the entire race. A minimum crew of 2 is needed and I have Angela and Chee Kong stepping forward to be part of my team and I am really thankful to them for their job will not be an easy one. However we are definitely still accepting more as the more will be merrier and of course easier for each other too. And I am still hoping a special guest back home will agree to it. Besides, we are going to rent a big vehicle for this, most likely the Volkswagen T5.
West Highland Way Race 2016, 95 miles through the Scottish highlands, my long one. It will be tough and demanding, and while I may not be a fast runner, I promise my crew and everyone else that I will try my very best to make it to the finish at Fort William and enter through that blue door at Lochaber Leisure Centre within 35 hours from the start. That you have my word! So yes, the "sheep" is returning to the Scottish highlands and will be gunning for that goblet.