/ Highland Fling - Any Advice?

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Steff - on 09 Apr 2013
I am signed up to do the Highland Fling at the end of the month. I am quite used to the distance and have done longer races, but have never raced in the UK.
I have noticed that there are four points for drop bags, so I suppose people will go light and fast and not carry packs. Where I race (Spain and occasionally Germany), we are not used to such a density of drop bags, so I tend to carry everything. Will people go for handheld bottles?

What is the terrain like? I know the section from Crianlarich to Tyndrum and if the whole course is on similar ground it should be a fast race. I have set my sight on a sub 11 hour finish. In the last 3 months I have done a 3h50m trail marathon with 1250m ascent and have managed 63km in a 6 hour race on a flat course (to give an indication on my current fitness). Any views on my goal time, given the course?

Also, anything else I should know about racing in the UK? Wouldn't want to offend anyone ;-)
J Brown - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

Hi Steff. I'm running, and did the HF in 2011 too.

I carried, and will do so this year, and small pack with some fluids and some food so I can keep nibbling through the race. There tends to be a mixture, lots of people will go light, but many (most?) will be carrying a small amount of kit.

The first section is flat and on a very good trail - easy to go away too fast (as I think I did in 2011). Over Conic Hill is a bit more rough, but not super-steep and fairly short-lived. After Rowardennan, along Loch Lomond all the way to Bein Glas is quite rough, undulating in places, and altogether quite slow. I found this very frustrating in 2011, and really slowed down. After Bein Glas its much more steady, slightly undulating and then downhill from above Crianlarich. The section from there to Tyndrum is, as you know, quite flat / fast (for me 'fast' is a relative term by that stage).

In my opinion the route generally is a bit tougher than that section, but there are plenty of easy sections.

Here's hoping for good weather (it was way too hot for me two years ago!).

I've never raced outside of the UK but I doubt you could do anything to offend anyone, in my experience these races are populated by a friendly bunch. One tip, mark your drop bags clearly, and say thanks to the marshalls.

I hope you have a great day.

Jamie.

IainRUK - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff: In an ultra in the UK now you must wear compression gear..

It must be a legal requirement..

Its fast.. very fast.. the first 20 miles are super quick.. its then hilly and for a trail race rough..

Its starts off through mugdock, wide trails, soilly surface, nice running.. a few short sharp hills.. then flat through the park.. then forest roads.. then a long descent.. don't kill it.. then a pipeline.. very very flat.. to drymen.. 13 miles in then forest trails and a gradual climb up conic hill.. then a steep descent.. short but slippy if wet.. to Balmaha 21? then its along loch lomond side. hilly but good trails to Rowardennan, 27 miles.. the next 13 to inverarun around 40 miles are lovely but you have 4 miles of rough stuff.. again some steep climbs.. and then at the head of the loch a long climb... its then good trails up the glen, cross the road and continue to climb into the forest abov Crianlarich.. this is a rolercoaster.. steep climbs and ascents.. 46 miles or so in.. its hard.. you then pop out around 50 miles and have a final flat 5km along the valley floor to Tyndrum..

A lot blow up.. I reckon you are looking around 10 hours? 10 should be a good target to beat.. a few beat 8 hours.. I'm normally top 5 top 10 and run 8:30 ish.. but again its UK champs so will be a fast start..

Be strict early on. There is a lot of hills at the end, long gradual climbs from 40 onwards really take their toll..

Great race.
petestack - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:
> Will people go for handheld bottles?

I wouldn't because 1. I hate *having* to carry things and 2. I'd want my hands free for the section north of Inversnaid.

> What is the terrain like?

Pretty rough and rocky up the north end of Loch Lomond, but otherwise OK.

> Any views on my goal time, given the course?

Guessing (from various posts of yours I've seen) you could maybe be a little more ambitious (say sub-10?).

Have only done the Fling once myself (compared to three full WHW Races), but here's my (brief) report:
http://www.petestack.com/blog/running/highland-fling-2011.html
Steff - on 09 Apr 2013
Wow, very useful advice here by everyone. Thanks guys. I will let you know how I get on.
petestack - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> then a pipeline.. very very flat..

It's a disused railway, Iain.

> Be strict early on. There is a lot of hills at the end, long gradual climbs from 40 onwards really take their toll..

Yep, don't get lured into hitting that 'fast' start too hard!

IainRUK - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to petestack: Always thought it was a gas pipe.. learn something everyday. :-)
Run_Ross_Run - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

Hi Steff,

I'm signed up for it too.

I'll prob take a pack but it will depend on the weather conditions at the time.

I'm also weighing up in my head the time it takes to stop at the drop points and faff with sorting through the drop bags against just carrying what i need in the pack. Obviously water will need to be taken on along the route anyway so.....

I've only run with a pack and used it in the MCN marathon before christmas so running without will seem strange to me.

Think i'll take it and decide on the day.

Your training looks impressive, much better times than me. I was hoping for sub 10hrs so i reckon you may be closer to 9.

Can't wait!!
petestack - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> Always thought it was a gas pipe.. learn something everyday. :-)

Apparently there's also an underground water (not gas) pipe along that bit, so there's something I didn't know!

IainRUK - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to Darren09: Go with drop bags.. its well organised..
alicia - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

I'm doing it too. I've not done the Fling before but I have done the WHW race and I second the suggestions that you should go for quite a bit quicker than 11 hours:)

I heard that this year there's a new rule that we have to carry an emergency foil blanket? if that's correct, then that might require a pack of some sort, unless you can manage to fold it up into a very tiny bundle and fit it into a pocket...

I'm using a handheld bottle--I used one in the WHW race and never felt like I needed my hands free for balance etc.

See you all there!
alicia - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

I guess it is true--just saw on the race website "All runners must carry a foil space blanket at all times." No rules that I can see on how big the blanket has to be, though...;)
petestack - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to alicia:

I got a suitably compact/light one for the Devil (same rule!) last year... Gelert, weighs 60g, approx 10 x 8 x 1.5cm packed and allegedly 210 x 135cm opened (I've never opened it).
alicia - on 09 Apr 2013
In reply to petestack:

10cm, not bad! I might look into one of those. It'd be nice to avoid having to wear a pack just for the foil blanket.
Steff - on 10 Apr 2013
Thanks again. Quite surprised to see that people think I should aim for a faster time. Wait till you se me run ;-)
Anyway, once I am on the start line I try to run by feel and not worry too much about the clock. I would be very pleased with sub 11, as it's the pre-requisite to put my name into the 2014 WS100 lottery. Whilst a place would very difficult to obtain, it would be nice to at least be able to try.
I think I might go for hand bottles. I have used them during the hot summers in Spain, when a pack that covers the back makes me feel even hotter and they work quite well for me.
John Workman - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:
I was going to say - make sure that your kilt fits and remember to take your dancing pumps with you but...........
Run_Ross_Run - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:
>
> a pack that covers the back makes me feel even hotter

This is the UK you know. You might be grateful of the extra layer for insulation ;)

Steff - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Darren09:

>
> This is the UK you know. You might be grateful of the extra layer for insulation ;)

Yes, I am hoping for an unseasonably hot day, in order to have an advantage ;-) My lunch time run today will be along a beach with a forcasted 24 degrees.
graeme gatherer - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff: I'll make my excuses now - as ever not enough running done- going to have to rely on this winter's skiing and climbing days- (about 30odd) and hope the fitness transfers! Ran 15 miles for the first time in ages this morning and felt ok ish!! I'm going to shuffle round - probably somewhere around 10hrs- maybe quicker - part of my WHW build up now anyway- in a way I'm glad this fine weather is coming to an end so we can switch to rock and running!

And don't worry Iain- I do not own any 'compression' gear!

Maybe speak to some of you on the day

Cheers
Graeme
Steff - on 16 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

Quick update: It seems I might even get a proper taper for this one. Currently down with a nasty cough. 10 days should hopefully be enough to get me to the starting line recovered and even more rested than otherwise.
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Run_Ross_Run - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

Race numbers out

http://www.highlandflingrace.org/

476. Sounds about right for me!!
Steff - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Darren09:
> (In reply to Steff)
>
> Race numbers out
>
> http://www.highlandflingrace.org/
>
> 476. Sounds about right for me!!

39. Ambitious ;-)

Given the weather forecast and the fact that I am a softy who is used to running around in a pleasant 24 degrees, I think I might change the strategy and actually carry a pack with some warm cloths, instead of just handheld bottles.
IainRUK - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff: Its a fairly protected route..

You are exposed on Conic but then lots of running in trees.. or valley sides..

alicia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Darren09:

246. I'd be okay with that!

From what I hear the forecast is looking good so far...?
alicia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

I just saw your take on the forecast--I've been thinking "whew, it won't be as hot as it is now!"
Steff - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to alicia:

It's all relative. For me ideal temperature would be 15-20 degrees, just because of what I am used too, but you are right of course: The forecast does not look bad. It means that I won't be comfortable in shorts and T-shirt though (at least not early in the morning) and will have to carry a windproof and maybe a light hat.
alicia - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

Yeah, I do wish it were going to be a degree or two warmer so it wouldn't be an issue about shorts v. tights. I'm still undecided...
Steff - on 23 Apr 2013
In reply to alicia:

Unless temperature forecast changes, it's going to be tights for me, very light short-sleeve base layer and thin long sleeve shirt. Hat, gloves and light windproof in a vest type running pack which also holds my water bottles and food.
IainRUK - on 26 Apr 2013
Run_Ross_Run - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:
Good luck to everyone for tomorrow.
See you on the start line.

Darren.
Steff - on 27 Apr 2013
In reply to Darren09:

Well I has to DNF. Went really well right on for a 10h finish until sharp pain at 30 miles brought me to a standstill. Deathmarched to 40 miles where the medics said it might be a stress fracture. Really disappointed, but at least I gave a it a real good try.
steelbru - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:
Ouch, sorry to hear that Steff - have you had an x-ray yet ?

That was the most difficult section as well, 30 - 40 miles, so must have been really tough to get to BeinGlas. I was just in the relay, and did that section, leg 3, and it was bad enough doing 14 miles on fresh legs.

Hope you recover well
Run_Ross_Run - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:
> (In reply to Darren09)
>
>, but at least I gave a it a real good try.
Agreed. You would have been gutted it you didn't give it everything.

I was a mess at 40 miles.

Ace day and ace event.

Steff - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to steelbru:
> (In reply to Steff)
> Ouch, sorry to hear that Steff - have you had an x-ray yet ?
>
No. Currently waiting in a hotel room for my flight back tomorrow. Will get it checked out as soon as I land.

Steff - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Darren09:

Yes. Despite not being able to finish, I have to agree. Fantastic event. Nice course and well organized. The weather forecast was spectacularly wrong , but in a good way. I think I met just have to come back next year ;-)
IainRUK - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff: Bad one.. its a great race. 53 miles is a nice distance.. hard but mentally a nice challenge and one you can run hard at.
graeme gatherer - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff: Hope it heals soon. Probably worth waiting a wee while for the xray anyway as it may not show up immediately.(I'm a GP not a radiologist though so could be wrong there!)

Think I passed you about 5 mile mark. Heard you telling someone about Valencia. Quite congested at that point so we just kept going.

Lovely day for running though not sure I ran much through the boulders by Loch Lomond! 10 hrs for me as predicted. Confirms my belief that winter climbing and ski mountaineering provide a great base for fitness. 53 miles is long enough to find you out though so it's given me a kick up the backside now to get some mileage in before the WHW. Last year I would have been an hour quicker as winter finished so early.
andymac - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

wer you on Mull last weekend?
alicia - on 28 Apr 2013
In reply to Steff:

Sorry to hear that--I hope you get some good news from the doctor.

I ended up 9:33 so I beat my best-case scenario of 10:00 but there was some suffering involved!
http://aliciasrunningandracing.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/2013-highland-fling-race-report.html
Steff - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to andymac:
> (In reply to Steff)
>
> wer you on Mull last weekend?

No. Flew in for this from Spain. Never been to mull.

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Steff - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to alicia and Graeme:

Well done both of you. Yes I remember being quizzed by a Dutch guy about Valencia early on, so it probably was me you passed. I was the one dressed in black for arctic conditions ;-)

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