After a two-year hiatus, we’re delighted to welcome runners back to Scotland’s biggest ultra-distance event. This Saturday, 450 runners will toe the line in Milngavie to run 53 miles along the West Highland Way before hitting the Highland Fling’s red-carpet finish in Tyndrum.
We pride ourselves on the inclusivity of our event. This year our youngest starter will be 25-year-old Fergus Kell from London and our most experienced at life is Graham Arthur, who is a sprightly 74-year-old - and back for his fifth Fling! As always, the race attracts a wide breadth of runners, from international and elite athletes to veterans of the sport and ultra-newbies. Despite the reduction in participant numbers, due to COVID and travel restrictions, we will host runners from over 20 countries.
Before we move on to the hot picks for Saturday’s win, we’d like to give a shout out to repeat offenders Hugh McInnes, David Simpson, Robert Kinnaird and Andy Cole who will all be aiming for their 10th Fling finish. With a stellar line-up at the sharp end, we expect another thrilling race. With optimal race conditions forecast, a few will be vying for the course records sets by Rob Sinclair (6:41) and Beth Pascall (7:52). Beth is the only woman ever to break eight hours, so that’s still a big ask.
Let’s start with the race for the women’s podium, which is sure to be the highlight of the day. A late withdraw from previous British 100K champion, Sophie Mullins, leaves a medal spot available. The one to beat is GB trail team athlete, Jo Meek. With a podium finish at CCC, a win at Lakeland 50 and success at many international trail races, the course will suit Jo’s speed and hill strength. We are excited to welcome Chrissie Wellington to the race. The four-time Ironman World Champion needs no introduction. Chrissie has been dipping her toes in the murky waters of ultra-running for the past few years and already has a string of impressive accolades to her name. I’m sure the spectators will be out in force hoping to catch a glimpse of Chrissie’s signature smile as she whizzes by. Natalie Taylor will no doubt make her presence known. With wins at both the 50 and 100 mile edition of the Arc of Attrition, the lochside section will be a cinch for her. Other ones to watch: Chiara Franzosi, Jacqueline MacIntyre and Kirsti Skåtøy.
In the men’s field, getting to the start-line seems to be an ordeal itself. Late calls off from Robbie Simpson, Jon Wyatt, and previous course record holder Donnie Campbell mean the battle for podium spots is wide open. Carnethy Hill Runner Rowan Boswood has had a cracking few years with straight wins at all five ultras he has competed in, including the West Highland Way and Glasgow-Edinburgh ultramarathon. Glasgow-based Salomon athlete Tom Owens has a wealth of success at international mountain races. If you think the course might be a bit flat for him, he just ran a 2:30 marathon in Manchester last month, so there’s some real speed in those hill legs. Ry Webb will be a force to be reckoned with. He brings over 10 years of ultra-running experience and has gone from strength-to-strength in recent times. In 2021, he set a new course record at NDW50, won Lakes in a Day and was 6th at the GB trail team trial event. Runar Saether is a Norwegian Trail Team runner based in Yorkshire. Last year, he won Lakeland 50 and recently ran a marathon PB of 2:35 and a Bob Graham Round in an impressive 16 hours. Nathan Montague has an impressive list of accolades from trail to track and five 100K race for Team England. He already has one Fling finish under his belt (7:36 in 2015) which he will hope to better. Although James Turner won the South Downs 100K in 2021, he has limited ultra-experience. He does however have an impressive road running CV, including a 2:25 marathon. Gavin Byrne is an Ireland Team trail runner and holds the record for the Wicklow Round. With Scottish medals up for grabs, Robbie Dunlop from Dundee Road Runners with wins at Ochils Ultra 50 and Cateran Trail and Brian Sharp, a previous D33 winner, will both be looking for podium spots. Other ones to watch: Dave Ward, Brian Mulgrew, Billy Gibson, James Kennan, Josh Bakker-Dyos, Gary House and Scott Craighead (4th place in 2019 Fling).
As always if we have missed you off the list of contenders, we’re just giving you some fire to prove us wrong. You’re welcome.
Good luck to everyone running. Whether you’re in it to compete or to complete, we look forward to welcoming you along the red carpet on Saturday afternoon. Once again, we would like to remind all competitors that THE RACE TO DRYMEN IS NOT REAL. If you experience some heavy detonation alongside the lochside, you were warned. And wear sunscreen. 2019 weather was a blip.