Sunday, 3 May 2015

Flinging it.

The Highland Fling is now in its 10th year. Ian ran the first 6, the first year they had 17 runners. to get from that to 1000 in 10 short years in phenomenal and shows just how much not only running, but ultra running has moved forward. 10yrs ago I had only just started running. I said I'd never do anything beyond 5k. Clearly things have changed since then. In 2007 I asked my friend George to pace me at Lochaber Marathon. Some of you may have met him. Surname -Reid - aka Legend. He said hey, no problem Sandra, I'm racing day before but I'll pop over in morning and pace you. I remember asking him again what race he'd been doing the day before. He went on to tell me all about this crazy 53 mile trail race. I told him he was utterly nuts, and said to him "you'll never get me off tarmac, I hate mud, I never even run on grass!"


I was cajoled in 2009 to run the relay. Sucker. by 2010 there I was lining up at 6am to run whole thing.

In those days it finished across the river and by the cottages. You still got ice cold beer, still got bubbly, tshirt, medal and stovies. It's always been a stupdily too good value for money race IMHO. Some folk moan about changes to the route but hey, we're not the only ones using the trails, they have to be preserved for future generations. Anyway.. i digress. Lets fast forward to 2015 race.

As my last blogs have said I was feeling strong. I got message from Donnie  telling me to run strong and remember how good I was feeling and wishing me luck. This was my 5th fling but I've only finished twice. again its been well documented if you fancy reading back. Prep wasn't best I've ever had, I'd liked to have had day off on Friday but I've just moved jobs and things were difficult. I was on feet all day Friday, but hey. that's not unusual. it is what it is. Ian picked me up and we got to Milngavie, settled in, got registered and had dinner. Susan
arrived and i went off to have few glasses wine with her.  I slept really well and was up at my normal mon-fri time. 6am starts really suit me

soon enough we were at start. I wished Ian good luck and positioned myself in second pen, I was looking for sub 11, so that's where I stood. Weather was a bit crappy at start, wet and coldish. I knew I'd discard jacket and hat before too long and had vest on underneath.  I also had sunglasses in bag in anticipation of the sun shining, its the fling, of course its going to shine. Johnny fling cant organise such a superb race for it not to.

I got to drymen around time i thought. I hugged Ian Shanski and ran on. Conic was good and i found it went quite quickly. Got to the top the find Graeme Hewiston snapping away, gave him hug (he is also our wedding photographer)   I knew I would get passed lots on way down. I remember way back in the day when Karen D told me about someone walking down conic and going on to place high up in field. That's never left me, I'm not great at descents, my wee legs don't cope so well with those steps but I was happy to come down slow. didn't quite expect to see Graham Kelly half way up conic after getting his blooming stookie off the previous week! I didn't have drop bag at balamaha, ran in there and into aforementioned George Reid's arms to give him biggest hug & kiss. Had to push on though and i needed so I popped into toilets to find big queue so didn't hang around there and headed off to Oak tree instead. That just felt right. I love that place.

So i came along road much to surprise of Carolyn Kiddell who asked where id been. i told her the oak tree of course! Off i went uphill where i was behind Superhero pal Ross Lawrie & who is running as Spidey. too impressive. He stopped for a photo opportunity at top (don't tell Donnie) I ploughed on.

I love this section, maybe because we've stayed at Oak tree so much and ran it so often. Onwards I went, running up those hills, passing people chatting and enjoying the sunshine. At one point i was singing *the sun has got his hat on* going up a hill, guy behind me joined in and told me it was his birthday, so I then sang to Happy Birthday to him (liam maybe) guy n front of me joined in :) that's Ultra running. superb. got there!

Into Rowardennan 4.45, happy as a happy thing and superbly looked after by Gavin Bussie. Saw my ex clubmates from Harmeny who asked if Ian was catching me yet, i said he'd be too busy peeing!  I had predicted asub 11 for Ian and i knew there was very good chance of us being very close. I did wonder if he would suddenly appear on my shoulder! Off again I went and I knew next CP Susan was there so did I wee song to myself after every mile singing 6 miles till see Susan, 5 miles till I see Susan etc.. I passed a former clubmate Lorna around here and was bit surprised (she did sub10 last yr) she passed me again bit later but then went on to get cramp

Again these miles passed by quite quickly, i came into Inversnaid singing and was delighted to see Nic & Duncan Mcgoughan which lifted me. After counting down the miles to see Susan its ironic I didn't see her until I was leaving. Keith Mabbot looked after me and reminded me I'd kicked him out of there last yr. I needed no kicking out, Quick hug to Susan and I gave her my jacket knowing the sun was staying put.

Off i went to my Achilles heel section, probably most peoples tbf. I've always lost time here. Not this time. Yes people were still passing me, it'll never be my greatest section but I was much stronger than ever and it was over before i knew it! Only photo of day was at Dario's post. Beinglas here I come baby! 8.02 hrs

Arrived there and the fabulous Matt Williamson looked after me here. I mean seriously, every CP, just the most brilliant support - the drop bags were ready as we arrived, and endless people falling over themselves to help. I marshalled last year, its a tough gig. thank you guys.

Last section I love too. Heading up to cow poo alley as i delighted to see my friend Gavin who was out supporting. he ran a wee bit with me then ran back to support other folks, great wee boost. Graham Kelly here again and took this fab pic. 47 miles in, still smiling. Up and over rollercoaster, I felt a bit of a dip here to excuse the pun! the road never arrives does it!

Got to road crossing where Muriel was standing with arms spread out to stop me crossing, I'm not stupid enough to rush out in front of all that stupid fast traffic. i waited patiently to cross when it was safe, wehey, less than 3 miles to go! Not keen on that wee tarmaccy bit leading up to Auchtertyre but kept plodding on. Always feel bit off boost as i pass through it though and i did.

That last wee windy bit, the bit you keep thinking "where the fuck IS that clearing where's the gate!" it was here that Kirsty caught me again, I was talking a bit of walk break and she pushed me on "c'mon Sandra, its only round corner"  push me on it did. Soon enough we could hear the piper, Kirsty said "lets finish together" grabbed my hand and off we went. that Red carpet looked at long way off but boy did it feel wonderful once we were on it.
10.37  job done.

Tshirt, beer, wine, soup, medals, champagne, ice cream, hugs, smiles, painful stories, wonderful pb stories, more hugs. Finish tent is wonderful
Ian finished just 10mins behind me, I'd managed to hold him off. Just. He was chuffed to bits and rightly so, still looked fresh at end.  He was soon getting back to his other day job and presenting medals. No one was more surprised than me to receive a brone medal for the Scottish Ultra trail champs! :)

Susan arrived from her marshalling stint and we awaited Nicks arrival. He came in smiling but tired. considering he told me he wasn't running 2 weeks previous that's pretty impressive. Team Santa were all back together.

Next up. WHW race.


  1. Congratulations on a great race and pb. You paced it really well and obviously had a great time. Things are looking good for the whw .... sub 23hrs??

  2. Fantastic - you always looked so comfortable x

  3. Fantastic write up and a superb effort by you! You hopped, skipped and sang you way to that finish line! :D x o x

  4. Loved it! Sorry I only caught a fleeting glimpse of you - still more than you did of me! Probably no bad thing... hopefully we'll have time for a wee catch-up some time around midsummer. And not a catch-up of the running sort! :-) x



This could be a long blog, but 100 miles is a long way. I've always had a pull to this race for various reasons. I've heard many g...