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Friday, 19 June 2009

West Highland Way madness?

For those of you who don't know, the West Highland Way is a long distance walking route that stretches 95 miles from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Fort William. Most people take around five days to walk this trail, stopping overnight at one of numerous B&Bs or campsites. However every year a group of people take part in a truly mad race – walking/jogging/running the full length in one go.

It's hard to believe that anyone can run this far over such tough terrain (we're talking here about a rough trail, lots of big hills and a mountain or two). The West Highland Way Race record is an incredible 15 hrs and 44mins. The female record is 17hrs and 16 mins. Every participant is required to complete in less than 36hrs and for most the Holy grail is sub 24 hours.

Now I have no real desire to complete such an event. The Loch Ness Marathon last year was way more than enough for me. However, I am keen to support anyone bonkers enough to want to give it a go, especially if it's in the name of charity.

Which is why, this weekend, I will be joining one competitor, Charlie M, for the final 23 miles or so. Charlie is a member of my tri club and an all-round adrenaline junkie. He has done this race before but he's also completed a host of other insane events including the Marathon Des Sables. He always raises money for the Beanfeast children's charity. (You can see his justgiving site here)

The things is, until last night, I hadn't really given much thought to what I would be doing. It was another tri pal Jim that first suggested the idea many months ago. Jim supported Charlie on the final 12 miles of the WHW Race a couple of years ago. "Go on." Jim told me. "It's a good thing to do and actually quite ok because Charlie is only able to walk by that point."

Only Charlie has got himself super fit this year. He's ahead of me at tri club track sessions and I've been keeping an eye on various events he's taken part in over the last six months. Charlie has clocked some impressive times.

But I've committed myself and I want to help Charlie out. I hope to start at Kingshouse, head over the Devil's Staircase, then on to Kinlochleven before the final descent into Fort William. Put like this it all seems fine. Afterall I know I can walk 23 miles. But in reality it will be at night, it is likely to be wet and windy, Charlie will be desperate to finish (and in under 24 hours) and I have no idea if I'll be a good support or not. I mean, will Charlie want me to chat to him? Or just be there? Will he be grumpy? Will I be able to keep up?

Goodness knows. Still, I'm pretty excited about it all. I'll report back after the weekend to tell you how Charlie got on. And how it felt to do only a fraction of the epic event.

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