Rowan wins the West Highland Way Race 2022. Credit: Luke Bennet
It takes most people a week or more to complete the 96-mile West Highland Way. (And, of course, we think this is a wonderful way and time-span to walk the iconic long-distance trail in Scotland.) However, it is still hugely impressive to see how quickly some people can run from Milngavie, near Glasgow, to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.
At the weekend, winner of the West Highland Way Race, Rowan Boswood, who also won the race in 2019, clocked 15 hours and nine minutes. He was an hour quicker than runner up Robbie Dunlop. Rowan’s time was also five minutes faster than his previous victory.
The fastest female runner was Lynne Allen in 18:46, just ahead of runner up Saki Nakamura in 18:59.
These times are incredible to believe, although even more unbelievable are the records for this race, which has a total ascent of some 4350 metres. In 2017, Rob Sinclair ran a fastest time of 13:41 and Lucy Colquhoun’s finish time of 17:16 has stood since 2007.
The weather conditions for the WHW Race this year only added to the challenge. It was wet and windy for many hours and on reaching Glencoe, at around 80 miles, it became a mandatory requirement for runners to wear waterproof jackets and trousers.
Also read: What's it like to run the West Highland Way Race.
Female winner Lynne Allen.
What is the West Highland Way Race?
Dating back to the 1980s, the West Highland Way Race challenges entrants to complete the full route non-stop on foot and in under 35 hours.
In the early years, it was someone of a niche event that attracted only a few runners. Then in the year 2000, publicity surrounding very fast wins by both the men (Wim Epskamp 16:26) and the ladies (Kate Jenkins 17:37) created a bigger buzz and widened the audience.
These days 150 to 200 people start the race each year, with around a 75% success rate. For example, in 2018 235 were on the start line and 198 finished.
Despite the arduous nature of the event, there is ballot for entries because the numbers of people who apply far exceeds the allocated places.
This year, of the 196 runners who started the West Highland Way Race, 155 finished.
Winner Rowan describes his race
At the start line Rowan, of Aberdeen, wasn't confident he would finish, let alone win. He said: “I knew there were a few people on the start line who would be quick and whenever you run these sorts of distances, there is a risk your body might not react as expected.
“I was a bit disappointed with the time, in my mind I was only racing one person – and that was 2019 me. I had a couple of moments in the race where I was behind my previous schedule, specifically at Balmaha in the dark where I had a really strong urge to stop. Running another 70 miles seemed a bit pointless, which really isn’t the mentality you need to dig deep and suffer to the finish.
“Luckily, the beauty of Loch Lomand at 4am cheered me up and the technical section around Inversnaid kept my mind occupied.
“I had another low at Auchtertyre, where I arrived 11 minutes behind my 2019 time. After Auchtertyre, I got my head down and felt strong and I enjoyed the race from that point onwards as I was running well.
“The ultimate high point for me was climbing out of Kinlochleven. When I ran this section in 2019, I really struggled. This year, I felt strong and relatively composed.
“It feels amazing to have won the West Highland Way Race again. It feels more normal that 2019, when it came as more of a surprise.”
Saki Nakamura was second female in this year's WHW Race.
Battle in the women's race
Lynne, of Cumbernauld, felt ready for the race and she is grateful to her coach Donnie Campbell. However, she revealed it was still a challenging run.
She said: “It was a tough race with 40mph headwinds, 1°C and driving rain. That’s when you find out most about yourself and where you find the grit to battle on.
“In the end, I had a brilliant race. Four strong female athletes fought it out for 60 miles, then three amazing ladies fought it out for 70 miles and then the competition was on from 80 miles with myself and the amazing Saki for 16 long miles from Kinlochleven to the finish.
“I was feeling strong and had an amazing crew so I was able to push to the win, shortly before Saki came in. I am elated.”
Find out more about the West Highland Way Race.
Also read: How to run the West Highland Way.
Make plans for the West Highland Way
If you want to discuss any plans or ideas you have for running, walking or cycling the West Highland Way in Scotland, please do give Highland Transfers a call. We can help with luggage transfer between your overnight accommodation and we have a wealth of other information that we can discuss with you.