53 mile Ultra Trail Marathon through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland, UK

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2019 Highland Fling Race Report

Flinging In The Rain

2019 Highland Fling Winners
2019 Highland Fling Winners
Light rain they said? The screams from the shower cubicles on Saturday afternoon told a different story. Our track record of perfect race conditions came to an abrupt halt around 8am. Heavy downpours continued through most the day, resulting in our highest DNF rate to date from nearly 800 starters. Thankfully the forecasted high winds of Storm Hannah skipped past the West Highland Way, but the cold rain and treacherous underfoot conditions affected overall times and results.

As host to the 2019 Scottish Ultra Trail Championships, our race preview highlighted this was going to be a fierce competition. A few late call offs from some of the hot favourites left the men’s field wide open. The top five raced to the line leaving those of us waiting at the finish unsure of who was going to hit the red carpet first.

John Hammond (Carnethy) threw down the gauntlet from the gun, already strides ahead through the Main Street in Milngavie. By Beech Trees he was four minutes up on second place, which became six minutes over Conic Hill. Sam Humphrey (Victoria Park Harriers) and Toby Chapman (Bournemouth AC) ran together from the early stages and the podium trio never changed for the duration of the 53 miles.

As always, some of the over-zealous runners paid the price for the fantasy ‘race to Drymen’ and fell back on the leaderboard by Balmaha. Local runners Scott Craighead, Stuart Paterson, Graham Connelly, Marco Consani and David McLure battled along the lochside for the remainder of the Scottish Championship Medals. John continued to lead at Beinglas (41 miles), with Sam and Toby in hot pursuit after closing the gap to only three minutes. Looking more sprightly than John and with some new found energy to hunt down the lead, we at race HQ feared the worst. Would they commit the cardinal sin of finishing together, holding hands?

Our panic was over by Bogle Glen when it looked like the race was on. Sam had taken the lead with only five miles to go, and with John in second and Toby in third, only a minute or so separated the top three. After leading for nearly 50 miles, how would the renewed competition in the final stage affect John? Would he resign himself to being beaten?

At 7 hrs 30 on the clock, John turned the corner and sprinted down the red carpet. He had found the physical and mental strength to out kick Sam in the final mile to take the win. A quick look over his shoulder before breaking the tape showed he knew how close his nearest rivals were. Sam finished second in 7:32:08 looking near to collapse, with Toby less than a minute behind in 7:32:57. The closest and most exciting finish in the 14 years of holding the event. Toby was 5th here last year, so he looked delighted with an improvement on position and a PB of 25 minutes.

Scott Craighead (Carnethy) finished 4th in 7:42:47 taking Scottish silver medal and first V40. Stuart Paterson (Carnegie) completed the Scottish Championship podium with 7:46:50. Marco Consani (Garscube Harriers) and Alastair McNay (Motherwell Athletics) took silver and bronze for the Scottish masters medals. In the women’s race, course record holder (7:52 from 2016) and Salomon athlete, Beth Pascall wasn’t just in it for the win, but was pushing the men every step of the way. Sources close to Fling HQ tell us there was widespread fear amongst the leading men over her whereabouts in the field. As always, Beth looked relaxed and in control and took the lead from gun to tape. Although in shape to break her course record, the conditions and possibly the lack of female presence in her vicinity resulted in Beth breaking the tape in 8:02:46, securing her second win here and finishing 9th overall.

Nicola Duncan, Irish International trail runner and Carnethy athlete was never far behind Beth and finished 2nd again, with a seven minute PB, in 8:19:43. A few drop outs from the women’s top five early on allowed Morgan Windram (Fife AC) to benefit from more tactical pacing and take 3rd place in 8:43:02. Fresh from a podium position at last month’s Anglo Celtic Plate, Morgan adds another championship medal to her collection this year. 5th woman Rachel Hunt (Glasgow Triathlon Club) took the Scottish Championship bronze medal.

Scottish Championship Masters’ Medals were awarded to Jan Dawson (Penicuik Harriers) Christine Caldwell (Wee County Harriers) and Kay McWilliam (Deveron Harriers)

Congratulations to everyone who finished in testing conditions. Huge thank you to our sponsors, supporters and the 200 volunteers who helped make the event happen.

Johnny Fling promises to bring back the sunshine for next year. Ding ding!


2019 Highland Fling Race preview

Ding ding!  It’s the 14th Highland Fling.


This weekend around 800 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. As always the race attracts a wide breadth of athlete, from ultra veterans to debutants, and speedy marathon and hill runners moving up to ultra distance. As host to the 2019 Scottish Ultra Trail Championships - and arguably the UK’s biggest and most competitive ultra distance event - we expect another thrilling race. 

We pride ourselves in the inclusivity of our event. This year our youngest starter is Jacob Hiom from Canada who has just recently turned 20, and our will be Gordon Hill who is a sprightly 75 years old.  Before we move on to the hot picks for Saturday’s win, we’d like to give a shout out to repeat offenders Colin Knox, Andy Johns, Hugh McInnes and Andrew Goodwin who will all be aiming for their 10th Fling finish. We also welcome representatives from over 15 different countries including Norway, Hungary, Canada, Estonia and the USA.

Beth Pascal setting course record in 2016
Beth Pascal setting course record in 2016
Let’s start with the race for the women’s podium, which is sure to be the highlight of the day. We’re delighted to see course record holder Beth Pascall back this year. The only woman to ever run sub 8 at the Fling, Beth has gone from strength to strength since breaking the tape in 7:52 back in 2016. Most notably she was 4th at last year’s UTMB and also 4th at Transgrancanaria. She holds the course record for the Lakeland 100, finished 8th at the World Trail Champs and recently ran a solid 3:35 tune-up 50K race in Perth. 

We expect Carnethy athlete Nicola Duncan to push her every step of way. Last year’s silver medallist, Nicola has been a force to be reckoned with in the last 12 months. A self-confessed fairy on technical terrain, her trail confidence has soared since setting a new course records at Glentress Marathon and Kielder 50k in the last few months. Plus being selected to represent Ireland at the World Trail Championships, following her win and CR at the team trials at Maurice Mullins Ultra. Nicola got upset when we mentioned her 2:33 marathon PB in the 2018 preview, so we’ll just skip over that.

Susie Chesher has an impressive list of accolades, including the UK’s fastest 100 trail miles by a female - 15:22 at the A100. Her ultra participation has been sparse in the last couple of years, but with some fast shorter races under her belt and her speed on flatter courses, she’ll be sure to make her presence known.

Jess Gray makes her Highland Fling debut and with her wins at SDW50 and NDW50 and 3rd place at the Lakeland 50, a top five placing is looking likely for the Wycombe Phoenix Harrier.

Fresh from last month’s UK 100K champs, Anglo Celtic Plate winner Sophie Mullins returns with her gold medal team mates Morgan Windram and Lynne Allen. If they’re rested, recovered and in it to race we expect them to battle for overall podium positions and Scottish Championship medals.

Other ones to watch:  Alice Mezincescu, Rachel Hunt, Sian Morgan, Saki Nakamura, Gillian Stokes, Emma Williams, Jo Vinall and Josefine Bjorkqvist

On paper, the headline act in the men’s race is New Zealand international Sam McCutcheon. Now living in Edinburgh, the 29 year old has a wealth of ultra experience and impressive results including 3rd at the Tarawara 100k, a top ten finish at the Glencoe Skyline Race and 29th at the World Trail Champs. (Athlete withdraw & preview updated 26/4/19)

Jim Mann is possibly one of the most decorated ultra runners in this year’s race. Possibly ever. His list of achievements includes winning the Spine Challenger and the Dragon’s Back, placing highly in many sky running and fell races, completing the three classic British mountain rounds in one winter month and finishing 15th at last year’s UTMB. The Fling might be a bit flat for Jim, but time will tell. (Athlete withdraw & preview updated 26/4/19).

There will be many local runners looking for a podium spot and a Scottish Championship medal including Dave McLure.  Last year Dave won the West Highland Way, River Ayr Way and Speyside Way Race, so we’re sure he’ll be hoping to add a Fling win to his repertoire. Other locals to look out for are: John Hammond who won our sister race the Devil o’ the Highlands last year, Marco Consani, GB team 24 hour runner and Lakeland 100 winner, Graham Connolly, Kintyre Way winner and previously 3rd at the Devil o’ the Highlands.

From the south, we welcome back last year’s 5th place Toby Chapman. With a marathon best of 2:31 and some course knowledge, Toby will be gunning for a Fling PB and a top three position. Neil Kirby, with multiple wins at Centurion Running events but some unfinished business with two DNFs here, has the potential to mix it up at the sharp end.

Others ones to look out for: Gavin Taylor, Dwayne Batt, Marc Casey, Scott Craighead, Craig Cunningham, Sam Humphrey, Ryan McKenzie, Alistair McNay, Stuart Paterson.

As always, if we have missed you off the list of contenders we’re just allowing you the opportunity to fly under the radar and prove us wrong. You’re welcome. Sometimes Johnny tells us someone has pulled out and then they rock up and break the course record, as happened with Beth in 2016. But we don’t talk about that.

Good luck to everyone running. Whether you’re in it to compete or complete, we look forward to cheering you down the red carpet on Saturday afternoon. Just remember, it’s 53 miles. The race to Drymen is not real.



Highland Fling Race preview 2018

Ding ding! It’s the 13th Highland Fling.

As host to the 2018 Scottish Ultra Trail Championships, this year’s starting list of over 800 will once again include some of the UK’s finest ultrarunners. The 53-mile race along the West Highland Way is arguably the UK’s biggest and most competitive ultra-distance event. The women’s race is going to be one of the hottest contested we’ve ever seen. Last year’s women’s podium finishers will all return to battle along the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond to the finish in Tyndrum.

Last year’s winner, Nicola Adams-Hendry will return to defend her title. The Garscube Harriers’ athlete has been a force to be reckoned in the Scottish Ultra-distance scene over the past few years, winning the Scottish Championships twice. This will be her fifth Highland Fling. She has also won our sister race, the Devil o’ the Highlands, three times.

We’re excited to see what Nicola Duncan can bring to the race. The Irish athlete who resides in Edinburgh and runs for Carnethy has a marathon PB of 2:33. Winning every ultra she competed in last year, she may have a crack at Beth Pascall’s 7:52 course record. Morgan Windram-Geddes and Rachel Normand (nee Newstead) who finished 2nd and 3rd last year will be looking for podium places and championship medals again. We also expect 100km internationalists Charlotte Black, Sophie Mullins (both Scotland) and Gemma Carter (England) to mix it up at the front end. Carter is fresh from a win at Country to Capital and a sub three marathon in Manchester. Local runner and resident Californian, Jamie Aarons has a wealth of ultra-experience and wins to her name and is sure to make her presence known.

Other ones to look out for Sara Al-Khadhimi, Aisling Allum, Gemma Bragg, Rosie Doull, Charlotte Finch, Georgina Hinton-Lewis, Claire McArthur, Carla Molinaro, Jo Newens, Louise Smart and Christine Waller.

In the men’s race, there will be an equal depth of talent. We welcome GB trail team’s Kyle Greig to the Highland Fling for his debut race on the West Highland Way. The Metro Aberdeen athlete has shown his current form by finishing 5th in top international field at the Tarawera 100km in New Zealand. He was also the first GB athlete at the World Trail Championships in 2017. No slouch in shorter distances, his 10K personal best is 30 minutes. An incredible rise for an athlete who only ran his first marathon in 2016, clocking 2:25 in his debut at the distance.

Two athletes, Neil Kirby and Jon Ellis, both multiple winners at Centurion Running events will be making the journey north with their eyes on the podium. Kirby has won both the SDW and NDW 50 and 100 mile races and shows current fitness with a win at the recent the Coast Trail Series in Sussex. Ellis can almost be viewed as a 50 mile specialist, with wins at SDW50, NDW50, Chiltern Wonderland 50, Wendover Woods 50 with his most impressive performance being 4th at the Swiss Alpine Marathon last year. The Highland Fling course will certainly play to his strengths.

We also expect John Connolly, local runner and previous winner of the Devil o’ the Highlands, to be in contention for a podium position. His best Highland Fling time is 7:59 in 2016. But following a CR at Glen Ogle 33, a win at the Stour Valley 100km win and a fine performance at Transgrancanaria 125km, we’re sure to see him hit the red carpet much quicker this weekend.

Other ones to watch out for include David Gow, Gary House, Richard Bannister, Dwayne Batt, Andy Bryce, Simon Green, John Hammond, Yoann Lecauchois, Justin Maxwell, Hugh McInnes, Rob Payne, Rob Ross, Steven Timoney and Nicholas Wolverson.

The 53 mile distance is long enough to challenge the most experienced of runners, but it’s short enough to unearth some raw new talent. It’s especially popular for ultra-newbies and speedy marathon and hill runners moving up to ultras. So, as always, we may miss some contenders for the podium in this race preview.

Just remember it’s 53 miles. The race to Drymen isn’t real!


2017 Race Report: Sinclair breaks course record

On Saturday (April 29) some of the UK’s best ultra-runners lined up in Milngavie to take on the 53 mile Highland Fling, along the West Highland Way, to finish in Tyndrum. One of the UK’s biggest ultras, the race always attracts a high calibre of athletes.

Last year, the event was host to the British Ultra Trial and both the men’s and ladies’ course records were broken by Donnie Campbell (6:54) and Beth Pascall (7:52). We thought those records might remain unchallenged for some time.

Race contenders Vajin Armstrong and Edwina Sutton both dropped from the race with injury, leaving the others and 700 plus runners to battle it out for podium positions.

From the gun, Rob Sinclair made his mark. Through Drymen in 1:22 with Andy Horrobin and Hugh McInnes it was a few minutes slower than last year’s blistering pace which played to his advantage later in the race. By Rowardennan, Sinclair had a nine minute lead with 3:10. As a relative outsider in the race preview rankings, there were few who believed he could keep up the pace. But when Sinclair arrived at Beinglas in 5:06 looking fresh – 30 minutes up on second place - the course record was well within his sights. A 1:34 split to Tyndrum and he stormed down the red carpet to take the win and course record in 6:41:31. Given he had no one to push him throughout the race, this was a remarkable performance. He joins GB team athletes Donnie Campbell and Damian Hall in the very exclusive sub seven club. Completing the men’s podium, Andrew Tuckey took second in 7:17 and Michael Jones finished third in 7:29:34.

In the ladies’ race, local favourite Nicola Adams-Hendry from Garscube Harries took the lead by Balmaha. After finishing 5th last year in 8:36, taking the Scottish Ultra Champs win, Nicola was always a podium favourite. By Beinglas she had a 15 minute lead on second place Morgan Windram and on for a hefty personal best. Nicola hit the tape with a big smile and a look of complete shock to take a well-deserved win in 8:16:04. Nicola was followed by Morgan Windram (Fife AC) in 8:37:56 and Rachel Newstead (Carnethy) in 8:55:29.

Race Director, John Duncan commented: “Another great day of racing and the first year we have had two Scottish champions since 2010, which highlights the global interest in the event. Congratulations to everyone who completed the event”.

The relay race is a firm favourite within the race and it perfect for for those wanting to participate in what is now a great family-friendly day out. The male team podium was made up of Bellatubbies 6:57, Maryhill Harriers 7:30 and Dick Vet Aces 8:21. It’s worth pointing out that none of the relay teams beat the overall winner in the solo race. The ladies’ team were Carnegie Chicks 8:15, Which Way to Tyndrum Again 8:28 and Glenpark Blister Sisters 8:37. The mixed team winners were I Am Not a Number 8:02, Funners Fling 8:12 and The Jackson Four 8:25.

Full results and category prize winners can be downloaded here..

Highland Fling Race Preview 2017

Ding ding! It’s the 12th Highland Fling.

Last year, as host to the GB trial and the Scottish Ultra Trail Championships, the race attracted a depth of talent never seen before in the UK ultra. Both the men’s and ladies’ course records were smashed by Donnie Campbell and Beth Pascall.

This year’s starting list of over 800 will once again include some of ultra-running’s finest athletes, as well as the 200 relay runners. The race along the West Highland Way is arguably the UK’s biggest and most competitive ultra-distance race. We also have representation from Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Poland, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, New Zealand, Australia, Russia, South Africa, USA, UAE, India and China.

The 53 mile distance is long enough to challenge the most experienced of runners, but it’s short enough to unearth some raw new talent. It’s especially popular for ultra-newbies and speedy marathon and hill runners moving up to ultras. So, as always, we may miss some contenders for the podium in this race preview.

In the men’s race, New Zealand international athlete Vajin Armstrong will have his eye on the prize. Vajin has a wealth of ultra and mountain running experience. He has performed well at Tarawera (six consecutive years of top 5 finishes), Transvulcania, Western States, the North Face 100 Australia and has many shorter wins including the Swiss Alpine Marathon. If successful, he could join other internationals who have won the race including American Matt Laye (2015) and Norwegian Sondre Amdahl (2014). Closer to home Michael Jones and Neil Kirby could be battling it out for a podium finish.

Michael had a fantastic 2016 with wins at the Lakeland 100, V3K Ultra and Lake District 3x3000 Ultra Trail. He’s already kicked off 2017 with an 8th place finish at the Transgrancanaria 82km race and a win at the inaugural Chester Ultra last month. Rumour has it he’s been working on flat leg speed specifically for this race. He’s got a sensible head on those young shoulders, so don’t expect him to win the race to Drymen. He’ll be sure to mix it up later in the race.

Neil Kirby will also be a man on a mission. He’s fairly new to ultra-running, but dominated the Centurion Running races on the South Downs and North Downs Ways last year, winning four out of the five races he entered in 2016. He’s also on the start list for the West Highland Way Race, so will be looking to make his mark at the Highland Fling.

Other ones to watch are Rob Sinclair, Mark Sutherland (Jedburgh Three Peaks winner), James Appleton, Daniel Hendriksen, Damien O'Looney, Evan Davies, Hugh McInnes, Andrew Horrobin and Donald McPartlin.

In the ladies race Edwina Sutton from the Centurion Running team will be heading over from her hometown of Morzine. The ex-triathlete turned ultra-runner has many fine performances to her name, including the 7:09 course record at SDW50. In 2016, Eddie took silver at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100km, only nine months after having her third child.

Local runner Nicola Adams-Hendry will be looking for a podium spot. Finishing 5th last year, taking gold in the Scottish Ultra Trail Championship, she went on to win our sister race, the Devil o’ the Highlands, in August.

Colorado runner Helen Cospolich has 14 years of ultra-experience and nearly 70 ultra-races under her belt. And that’s only the ones we can find a record of. If she’s not over on a sight-seeing trip, she could make it interesting in the ladies’ field.

Morgan Windram-Geddes may have mixed it up at the front end, but with her Scotland team debut at the 2017 Anglo Celtic Plate only a few weeks away, she’ll be under strict instructions to keep a lid on it. Other ones to watch are Caroline McKay, Carrie Craig, Madeline Robinson, Aisling Allum and Angela Reid.


From the archives...
Highland Fling Race Preview 2016

On Saturday, April 30, some of the UK’s best ultra-distance runners will toe the line of the 11th Highland FlingRace.  As host to the UK & Scotland Ultra Trail Championships 2016, the depth of talent is arguably the best that any UK ultra has ever seen.

Since its humble beginnings in 2006 - when only 18 people entered – the race has grown to be one of the biggest ultra-distance events in the UK. This year, over 750 runners (with an additional 200 relay runners) will take to the West Highland Way, Scotland’s oldest official long distance footpath, and race the 53 mile route through The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park to reach the finish line in Tyndrum. 

The distance is long enough to ensure that experience and pace judgement will shine through, but short enough to unearth some new raw talent. 

The race also attracts a large number of international athletes, keen to take in the scenic Highland course.  Last year the race was won by American Matt Laye.  And in 2014, Norwegian Sondre Amdahl was first home.  This year we have representation from Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, Brazil, Hungary, South Africa, Australia, the USA and more.

We are excited to see what American Devon Yanko can bring to the women's race. The baker from California has competed in over 30 ultras, including running on the USATF 100k National Team, taking 3rd at the prestigious Two Oceans Marathons and 5th at Comrades. Last year, she finished 2nd overall behind West Highland Way Race record holder Paul Giblin at the Javelina Jundred 100 mile. In 2016, she has already won the American River 50 mile and the Sean O’Brien 100km Trail Race.  We think Devon could challenge Lucy Colquhoun’s course record of 8:10:03, which has stood since 2010. 

Also fighting for podium places will be GB Trail Team athletes Sally Fawcett and Lizzie Wraith.  Sally was second at the Highland Flingin 2014 with an impressive 8:39.  She also won last year’s Lakeland 50.  Lizzie is the Lakeland 100 record holder and has placed high at UTMB, the Lavaredo Trail and the Dragon’s Back Race. Both will be keen to get back on the GB team for the Trail World Championships in Portugal this October. 

The rest of the field is wide open. GB Trail Runner Bonnie Van Wilgenburg and local athletes Caroline McKay and Nicola Adams-Henry (who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively in under 9 hours last year) will both be looking for a top five finish.  Katie Samuelson and Sophie Mullins will be hoping their legs have recovered from representing their home countries at last month’s Anglo Celtic Plate 100km.  Debbie Martin-Consani, GB 24-hour runner and 2nd behind Sally at last year’s Lakeland 50 will be looking to perform well on her home turf.  Triathlete turned ultra-runner Mel Varvel might mix things up at the front end too.

Other notable starters in the women's race include: Helen Pickford, Lorna McMillan, Linn Erixon Sahlström, Myvanwy Fenton-May, Joanne Thom, Sophie Grant, Heather Mochrie, Morgan Windram Geddes, Emma Wright, Helen Leigh and Clara Horswell.

The men’s race is stacked. Unfortunately course record holder Lee Kemp has withdrawn with injury, leaving at least 10 athletes who will be vying for that record of 7:02:50 and the UK Champion title. 

Local man and GB Team mountain runner, Joe Symonds is favourite to win.  His list of achievements are endless and he has made the podium in most of the hill races he’s competed in.  With a marathon PB of 2:20 and a recent win at the D33 in Aberdeen, he’s also got the leg speed to do some damage on the flats too. 
Kim Collison was the UK Ultra Trail Champion in 2014, after winning the Lakeland 50.   He ran on the GB team at the Trail World Championships last year and placed top 20 at UTMB and TransGranCanaria.

GB 24-hour runner, Robbie Britton took world bronze and led the men’s team to gold at the 24-hour World Championship in 2015.  He was second in the 2014 West Highland Way Race with an incredible time of 14:47.

Jez Bragg is practically a household name when it comes to running on the West Highland Way.  The North Face runner and previous West Highland Way Race, Highland Flingand Devil o’ the Highlands course record holder, he will have his eye on a podium place. 

Last year’s Lakeland 100 winner Paul Tierney and Lakeland 50 winner Jayson Cavill will both be looking to recreate their Lake District performances. Both performing well at Skyrunning races, they will push the front runners on the hills.
Local lads Donnie Campbell and Casey Morgan will be battling it out for UK and Scottish Trail Championship medals.  Donnie was 3rd in last year’s Highland Flingwith 7:17 and has a list of impressive wins including at England's 3x3000 80K Ultra Trail and Turkey's Iznik Ultra. Casey holds the course record for our sister race the Devil o' the Highlands after winning in 5:13 in 2014, breaking Bragg’s record.  Last year Donnie and Casey were joint first at the Devil.  We think there will be less camaraderie and more of of a fight on the next time they meet though.

Irishman living in Scotland, Eóin Lennon was 4th in last year’s Highland Flingwith a PB of over an hour.  Neil MacNicol ran some impressive times at all three of the races on the West Highland Way last year, giving him the record for the unofficial Triple Crown.  And Nathan Montague will be hoping to find his hill legs after representing England at the 100km in Perth last month.

Other names of interest include:  Martin Cox, Kevin O’Donoghue, Grant MacDonald, Hugh McInnes, Alan Ross, Damian Hall, Chris Brookman, Rob Soutar and Richard Waldron.

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