Sunday, June 22, 2008


I'm gutted. Yesterday I dropped out of the West Highland Way race after 27 miles, at Rowardennan. I hadn't been feeling good from the start - during the 1st section my stomach had been sore, and I had to stop for the toilet in the bushes, then I felt incredibly tired all the way from Drymen to Balmaha. I kept trying to tell myself that this was normal, that this was how it always felt, but deep down I knew something wasn't right at all. I came into Balmaha and was in a right state - with the benefit of hindsight this was where I should have sat down, taken a few minutes to pull myself together, and told myself to forget about times, targets and so on. Instead I rushed to the toilet (again), grabbed a soup and a coffee from the backup team, and headed out in a worse state than I had come in - in less time in total than I stopped last year. I didn't feel any better heading up towards Rowardennan, and by the time I was a few miles short of there I was really stuggling, and having to walk most of the path. I kept telling myself that there were always bad patches, that it would get better, that I just needed to get some food in me, but in my heart of hearts I knew it was not looking good. Alex Simpson passed and tried his best to get me going, but it was no use. By the time I reached the road at Rowardennan I knew I was done. I reached the car a few minutes later and sat down, hoping for a miraculous recovery. Unfortunately it didn't happen, and after 10 minutes or so I accepted it was just not going to be my day. I walked back to the checkpoint and handed in my tag. Race over. I was absolutely gutted.

I wanted to watch the rest of the race, as did allybea and George, so we dropped Sandy off at Milngavie and drove up to Auchtertyre Farm. After that we headed to Bridge of Orchy for a while, then Kingshouse, and finally to Fort William for the finish. I found it fascinating to see how everyone was doing - I've never seen the leaders before, so it was really interesting to see how they looked at the various stages. Jens Lukas was first finished just after 6pm, in a time of 17.06. We also saw Phil M finish in 7th position in an absolutely incredible time of 19.14, and John K sprint to the line in 11th position to dip under the 20 hour mark in 19.59 - brilliant performances from them both.

The prize giving today was quite difficult. I was delighted to see so many friends receive their goblets, but it was hard knowing my name was not going to be on the list and on more than a few occasions I felt close to tears. I spoke to Dave and Thomas, who had both dropped out at Kingshouse, and I think we shared the same feelings - delighted for those who had done it, but so disappointed that we were not amongst them. I felt the same driving down the road, and on a few occasions I had to wipe the tears away from eyes so I could see where I was going. Already I've had many supportive comments and messages - people have told me that I did the right thing, that they are pleased I took the sensible option, and that I would have done myself more long term harm had I carried on, and so on. I appreciate the comments, and they are all reassuring words, but to be honest it doesn't mask the pain or the disappointment: this was my main running target for the year, and I have failed to complete it. It will take me a while to get over that.


John Kynaston said...

I was gutted too when I heard at Beinglas that you had dropped out. I know how hard you have worked this year and how tough it has been with a new job and trying to balance work and home with training.

I have really appreciated all your support and encouragement to me since we first met 18 month or so ago. You have helped me far more than you know and I owe you so much.

I know it wasn't easy today for you at the prize giving and writing this post but once again it shows what a strong character you are - to face it honestly and openly.

I find it hard to know what to advise but I know you will come through this and be stronger as a result.

Thanks too for your comments on my blog.


Anonymous said...

Some things are simply beyond our control, Ian, but you're way too experienced at this game to stop without good reason and I'm sure you'll bounce back strongly with a new PB next year.


PeterD uggan said...

That wasn't supposed to say 'anonymous', it was me!


Andy Kerr said...

Gutted for you Ian, I guess the best advice is to try and find something else to focus on for a while, the reason for stopping is way beyond your control.

But times are going to be a bit hard for a while, it's bad enough when you've smashed a good time at the race, having a bad day out there must be hard.

You know you did the sensible thing, sometimes that is the most difficult decision to make.


Jane Milne said...

I'm so sorry Ian - couln't believe my eyes when I checked in to your blog this morning and read all about your experience over the weekend - I'm really sorry that it just wasn't to be this time. No words can console Alex when he drops out of a race (though the Inverness half marathon kind of pales into insignificance compared to the WHW event!)so I wont even try - suffice to say that you're an inspiration to many people from all different walks of life - not just the ultra runners - and I'm sure that you'll soon bounce back. The Way isn't going anywhere - it'll still be there waiting for you next year. All the best for a speedy recovery.
Jane x

Tim said...

Hi Ian, I think the others have said what I wanted to say. I know a bit about disappointment when it comes to the WHW race but I think dropping out of something that you've trained so hard for must have hurt terribly. I'm sure you were right to trust what your body was telling you.

However, life goes on and there *are* other races than the WHW race. Perhaps you might be able to redirect your training to the Hardmoors 110 (26th to 28th September) or Lakeland 100 (8th August)?

Marco Consani said...

Hi Ian,

I couldn't believe it was you when I came into Auchtertyre and my heart sank when I realised that you had dropped out. The awards were strange, I was elated for everyone that finished but heart broken for all my good friends that didn't. After it though I realised that you have nothing to prove Ian. You have shown you can do it and most people that talk about the WHW race talk about you in the same breath. The shockwave that went through the race showed that.
You'll be back next year.
See you next weekend.
Take care


Debbie Martin-Consani said...

Oh no, you've got me bubbling again!

You are the West Highland Way Race. Much more than just a participant. And the fact that you got yourself together and redirected your focus on supporting others shows what a hero you are.

You encouraged Marco to sign up, who in-turn talked me into it so we've definitely got you to thank...for the swollen feet and aching joints ;-)

See you Saturday x

Subversive Runner said...

Hi Ian, I was so disappointed for you when I saw you at Rowardennan. I was looking forward to having a beer with you after the race and congratulating ourselves on another goblet. It wasn't to be for either of us. But what can you do if you're ill? I'm sure Alison would prefer you in one piece and having missed a goblet than in hospital.

Never mind, I'll be back next year as I'm sure you will be. We can have that beer then! Enjoy your post race BBQ on Saturday. I'll have a beer for you after work.

Take good care, mate.


Davie Bell said...

Ian I have total respect and admiration for you,you represent what this race is all about,the friendship, encouragement and support you showed towards others when you were obviously hurting inside after pulling out the race is something which will stick with me for a long time,a true sportsman to the last, you will bounce back stronger than ever I've no doubt about that whatsoever,take care.


Jim Morton said...

Hi Ian, I've been reading your blog for a couple of years now, and I'm always amazed that you can keep going. I realised many years ago that distances weren't my forte, did the Highland Cross twice and decided that enough was enough. It's better to drop out and fight again than to struggle on and do damage. I know that you will bounce back fairly quickly, infact I've just looked at the results from last night's race on the Meadows!! You probably have a good marathon in you at this moment in time. Good luck and hope to see you in the future. Jim Morton

Thomas said...

when I sat next to you during the prize giving it felt like sitting next to a West Highland Way legend. I was really honored. Thank you so much for your support.
You do not have to prove anything to anyone anymore.


Brian Mc said...

I'm a bit late in adding my support to the others but better late than never. You've proved yourself time and time again on this race. I remember running with you briefly in the 07 race to Bein Glas before you knew my name and thinking excitedly 'crikey I'm running with Ian Beattie'.

Having been through 2 WHWR DNFs myself, all I can say is that you've just got to brush them off, refocus and wait the months till June 21st comes round again. It won't be long.