The Hoka Highland Fling Ultra is a trail race over the southern 53 miles of the famous West Highland Way Path, starting in Milngavie (close to Glasgow) and finishing in the scenic village of Tyndrum. The event is in its 7th year and continues to grow and is expected to be the most popular UK Ultramarathon in 2012. The route is almost entirely on trails and thus traffic-free. The varied terrain and stunning scenery make this a truly enjoyable experience, with runners returning year after year to participate.
Two Tynedale harriers, Ian Brown and Ian Gibson, made up the 400 strong field, both in the MV50 category and both therefore starting at 0600 along with the women’s field. Such are the numbers in the event that there is a staggered start with Vet40 men starting at 0700 and senior men at 0800. Ian Brown is no stranger to the West Highland Way and had taken part in the event last year, his first ‘Ultra’. Ian Gibson however had not run the distance and was apprehensive about both the distance and the terain ahead.
Ian B set off at a good pace and soon found himself up with the leading group. Ian’s experience gained last year helped him minimise time at check points while eating and drinking on the move. By the second checkpoint at Balmaha (20 miles), Ian was first MV50 and held this poition to the finish at Tyndrum. Ian was delighted with his time of 9 hours 9 minutes, good enough to gain him 21st place overall as well as setting a new course record for the MV50 category by over 10 minutes!
Ian Gibson had a good steady run over the first half of the route checking in at the half way point (Rowardennan) in 5 hours 19 minutes. Ian’s progress slowed over the very rough section along Loch Lomond side to Beinglas farm (40 miles). Ian checked in at Beinglas in 9 hours 9 minutes and completed the full 53 miles in 12 hours 15 minutes.
The weather was typical ‘fling’ weather, bright and sunny, and the atmosphere friendly and supportive making this a great event to be a part of and highly recommended to any budding ultra runners.