I went up to Fort William today for the annual Lairig Mor race - a 14 mile race starting from Mamore Lodge (just above Kinlochleven) to Fort William. The race route follows a trail for about a mile and then joins the West Highland Way all the way to Fort William Leisure Centre. I've always fancied doing this, but for various reasons (most of which I can't remember) I've never actually done it before. The thought of racing this section of the WHW when I hadn't already done 80 miles was very appealing, I have to say.
We set out at 12 noon, and quickly discovered what a wild day it actually was. The first 5 miles or so up the Lairig Mor were right into heavy rain and a strong wind, which made it very hard going. That section is also very rocky. The route was probably as wet as I have ever seen it. I read somewhere that Fort William's shinty team haven't been able to play a home game since January because their An Aird pitch has been constantly flooded, so I guess they have had a bit of rain up there over the last couple of months or so. However once we turned the corner (both literally and metaphorically) it all seemed a lot better and I felt my pace lift accordingly. I finished in a time of 1 hour 49 minutes and 42 seconds, which I was delighted with. I don't know my position yet. John Kennedy, with whom I had car shared to and from the start, finished 3rd in 1.33 - a great performance.
One of the things I found mildly amusing was my split times for various sections, compared with my normal times for these sections in the WHW race. In the WHW I normally expect to cover the last 7 miles from Lundavra in about 1 hour 30 minutes, if I am going well. Today I did that section in 51.53. Quite a difference. I also checked my time for the last 3 and half miles from the stile to the leisure centre after coming out of the forest. In the WHW race this takes me about 40 minutes; today it was 23.11. My challenge is clearly to reproduce today's times on 23rd June.