HUNDREDS of people walk the West Highland Way each year, completing the 95-mile route from Milngavie to Fort William.
Most take four or five days to cover that distance, but each year 170 or so individuals choose to run the route as a race – the West Highland Way Race – and they have only 35 hours to complete it.
It is not just the 95 miles which have to be conquered, but also the 14,760 feet of ascent on the way. And there is the need to start at 1am in the morning.
This year 172 started out on the race. In atrocious weather conditions on the first morning, and most of the day, the number of runners dropped throughout the course with only 119 completing in the allotted time.
Four Kirkintilloch Olympians took up the challenge.
David Gardiner, one of the top runners of ultras in Scotland had a strong run. After lying fifth at Balmaha, the first checkpoint at 20 miles, David pushed on and was fourth from there to the end.
His time of 18 hours 46 minutes and 50 seconds ensured that he was just over a hour behind the third runner.
Behind Terry Addison had his best run ever, taking hours off his previous times on the WHW and completing the race in under 24 hours – an amazing achievement and one that required battling not only the terrain but also the weather.
His 37th place overall was achieved in a time of 23 hours, 16 minutes and 32 seconds.
Both Ada Stewart and Bill Heirs had to battle through a second night as the conditions took their toll on fellow runners; many of whom were forced to pull out.
No such worry for the two Olympians, as they pressed on against personal tiredness and the difficult conditions. Ada finished in 31 hours and 26 minutes with Bill crossing the welcome finish line in the centre of Fort William in 32 hours and 13 minutes.
Understandably there was considerable celebration for the runners and the support teams, many of whom themselves were running more than 35 miles. Amazingly the course record, previously set by Jez Bragg was beaten. Terry Conway finished in 15 hours 39 minutes.
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