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What is it like to run the West Highland Way?

Graham MacBroom reveals the highs and lows of running the iconic 96-mile Scottish ultra-distance race on the West Highland Way, from Milngavie to Fort William. The West Highland Way Race takes place every June and entry is by ballot because it is always over-subscribed. Graham ran his debut WHW Race in 2016.

Graham and friend Ian Stewart after finishing the West Highland Way Race.

How to run the WHW Race

A good build up: In preparation for the ultra distance race, Graham, who lives in Cumbernauld in Central Scotland, had previously completed the 43-mile mile Devil o’ The Highlands in 2014, the 33-mile Glen Ogle race in 2014 and 2015, the 53-mile Hoka Highland Fling in 2015, the Glencoe Skyline 2015 and the Glenmore24 (a 12-hour Race).

Keep a steady pace: Graham said: “My plan was to run my own race and not to think about anyone else’s race and pace. I wanted to control my effort by not getting out of breath and not getting caught up and carried away with anyone else. I managed to stick with my plan and I think that paid off.”

Graham had planned the race for years.

Mental strength: Obviously, tiredness in ultra distance races can be very tough. Graham said: “When tiredness comes it is really bad. All you want to do is walk or sit down but you know you have to keep moving on. You tell yourself that every step forward is step closer to home.

“At those times, I try to think of all the early mornings and hard work I’ve put in to get here and that if I don’t get a move on I’ll regret it. I never want to let myself – or anyone else – down so I dig deep and move forwards.”

Weather warning: Scottish weather is fickle and on race day it was unusually warm and sunny. Graham says: “The heat on Saturday was hard with Rannoch Moor being especially unbearable. There was no shade from the sun and at mid-day it felt like a foreign country.

“My crew were soaking my buff and hat in water at every opportunity to keep me cool.”

Family support for Graham.

Good fuelling: Graham’s eating plan also went well. He found he could tolerate a mix of foods including Soreen malt loaf with butter, pasta soups, crunchy nut porridge pots and bananas.

A great support crew: Graham's support crew included his brother Stewart MacBroom and friends Paul McNair, David Inverarity, Raymond Quinn (who completed the race the previous year), Greg Beattie, who completed it in 2014, and other people who Graham runs regularly with. He said: "I couldn't have done this race with out my support crew."

Family support: One of the highlights of the race for Graham was seeing his wife Joanne and children, Grace and Owen, at the Glencoe Ski Centre car park as he ran though.

The joy of finishing: Finishing could not have felt sweeter. Graham came home in a very respectable 22:39:29. He was 48th of 159 finishers.

He said: “The West Highland Way race is iconic for ultra runners and it certainly lived up to everything I’ve ever read and dreamed about.”

A full report can be read at Fiona Outdoors.

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