Sunday, August 09, 2009

Devil O

Yesterday I ran the Devil O'The Highlands Footrace, a 43* mile race from Tyndrum to Fort William along the northern half of the West Highland Way. * Note: the WHW map suggests it is actually 42 miles rather than 43, a fact confirmed by my GPS. I wouldn't want anyone to think I was trying to claim an extra mile. Also, as the WHW race is 95 miles and the Highland Fling is 53, it would seem to make sense for the Devil O to be 42 rather than 43. For the record I'm putting it in my training diary and race spreadsheet as a 42.

However I don't suppose the actual distance really matters that much. It is still a long way on challenging terrain. I finished in a time of 8 hours and 2 minutes - my slowest time for this event (I have done it 3 times previously, with a best of 7.28), but all in all a reasonable result given the way I have been feeling for the last few weeks. I probably went off a bit too fast, reaching the first checkpoint at Glencoe in 2.47, and paid for that on the next bit to Kinlochleven. The section to Lundavra was long and difficult, but from there I ran quite strongly and still had an outside chance of getting under the 8 hour mark as I came out of the forest at the top of Glen Nevis. I need to do the last downhill stretch in 31 minutes to make it - not impossible, but not easy either. I gave it my best shot, but had a few twinges of cramp which forced me to walk for a couple of minutes, and meant that I was just passing the 30 mile an hour sign at Fort William as the clock turned to 8 hours.

There were a few fantastic performances. Debbie finished 2nd lady in a time not much over 7 hours, a performance which moves her up to the 'elite' level of woman's ultra running. John ran to his usual high standard and finished in 6.55, 2nd vet 50. I ran with both John and Debbie in the very early stages and was really impressed with both of their running techniques. Debbie has one of the most efficient ultra running styles of anyone I know - she looks effortless and seems able to continue for ever at the same steady pace. It is the first time I have run with John for a while and I was impressed by how much his downhill running technique had improved - he now looks like a hill runner on the stony descents. Silke completed her first ultra in not much over 9 hours, which was a brilliant time for someone who only took up ultra running a short time ago. And Richie continues to impress with a 4th place finish in a time just over 6 hours - yet another quality run. Another noteworthy performance came from Andy Cole, who I ran with into Kinlochleven, but stormed away from me after that to finish in around 7.40.

Yesterday was my 5th ultra of the year, inluding the 'Triple Crown' of the Highland Fling, West Highland Way Race, and Devil O'The Highlands Footrace. While I am delighted to have finished them all, I am a bit disappointed with my times in these races this year, all of which have been a bit slower than previous years. That may be a result of doing so many long races, but it doesn't seem to have affected Richie Cunningham, George Cairns or George Reid, so it may not be the only reason or indeed a valid reason at all. That said, I am still enjoying doing these events, which is really the main thing. It's just I would enjoy it even more if my times were a bit better :)

Finally, a big thank you to Phil and Alison for providing my backup. I am sure that the heavy rain towards the finish was much more welcome to me than it was to you.


Marco Consani said...

Hey Ian,

Well done yesterday on the Devils. Don't worry that the time was slower, you still managed to run it and the main thing enjoy it.
I hope your blister isn't too sore.
Take care and see you soon.


John Kynaston said...

Thanks for your comments Ian!

Recover well and all the best for your next challenge.


Debbie Martin-Consani said...

Thanks, Ian. My head is swelling as I type :-)

I can't even imagine running with the "big yin" in your legs, so I think you had a fantastic run.

Happy recovery.

Debs x

Andy Cole said...

Thanks Ian and well run. They say in football that any team can win when they're playing well, but it takes a bit more character to get a result when things aren't going your way. I think cranking out a really solid performance when you haven't been feeling good for a few weeks was a great effort. I enjoyed our couple of miles together into Kinlochleven. See you next time!

Brian Mc said...

I agree with Marco, enjoyment is the key thing. If you stop enjoying it, stop it. Running in the mountains should be about fun as well as pushing yourself etc.

Silke said...

Well done on Saturday! I can't recall having spoken to you at all on Saturday or even wished you luck, so sorry about that. Thanks for mentioning me in your report in the same paragraph as Debbie and Ritchie! :-)
Recover well.

Keith Hughes said...

Nice one Ian - maybe you are just getting old... Or soft... Or maybe you need a blouse ?? :-) Get a grip mate - 5 ultras in a year - sensational !! Cheers KH

Thomas said...

Ian, incredible five ultras in one season. There are only few who can do ultras and even less can do five.
I am sure you (still) have the ability to go faster. You can do a 7 hour devil too if the legs are right. Maybe next year?

I had a couple of fast races this year but here I am with 2 DNS and one DNF... and still no goblet.

Take care,