- Backpacks & Waist Packs
Tyndrum enjoys a steady stream of people throughout the year, partly as a result of its location on the West Highland Way. However, twice a year it is invaded by hundreds of ultramarathon runners, in April, at the end of the 53 mile Highland Fling, and in August, at the beginning of the 43 mile Devil O’ The Highlands Ultramarathon.
This weekend past it was the turn of the Devil O’ The Highlands runners.
The race itself always sells out well in advance and a waiting list then is operated on a one out, one in basis as people invariably, unfortunately find themselves injured or otherwise committed.
This year 138 runners were at the line for the 6am start. Of these, 124 completed in times ranging from 5.36.17 to 11.43.50.
The winners were as follows:
The Green Welly Stop, one of the landmarks in Tyndrum, opens its doors and cafe to runners for the 4.30am – 5.30 race registration. At 6am runners set off from Brodies store, with an immediate climb out of Tyndrum, heading for the first check point at the Bridge of Orchy, approximately 7 miles away. No such thing as a gentle start to this race!
Leaving Bridge of Orchy, the route climbs approx. 1000ft up on to Mam Carraigh which, according to the race info, “heralds the beginning of rougher country underfoot that continues more or less unabated until the end of the race”.
The speedy descent offers tremendous views of Loch Tulla before crossing the scenic and desolate Rannoch Moor. Fortunately the glorious weather on race day showed Rannoch Moor at its best. Take it from me when I say that it is no less pretty yet considerably more daunting when crossed in whiteout conditions!
The welcome sight of the Peter Fleming Cairn up on the hill to the left of the trail signals the end of Rannoch Moor and the close proximity of checkpoint 2, at the White Cottage, Glencoe.
From here the route then heads towards Kingshouse, with the imposing Buachaille Etive Mor in the background. Climbing alongside Beinn a Chrulaiste, the route takes runners to Altnafeadh, at the bottom of the Devil’s Staircase. Once at the top of the 849ft Devil’s Staircase there are amazing views of Buachaille Etive Mor to be had behind you. At 1798ft this is the highest point of the route.
The descent down into Kinlochleven is both brutal and never ending. What should be a glorious bit of downhill is obstructed somewhat by the ‘difficult’ (understatement!) conditions underfoot. Kinlochleven hosts checkpoint 3 and, on leaving Kinlochleven, the route includes another steep climb, up to the Lairig Mor (the high pass).
The final stretch of the route takes runners over the Lairig Mor and finally down towards the finish at Fort William, some 43 miles later.
Scotland’s ‘summer’ so far this year has largely consisted of the occasional sunny day sandwiched between torrential rain and, unfortunately for many of the runners, the day of the race turned out to be a gloriously sunny day. Whilst it made for a great day for spectators and support crew alike, many of the runners suffered in the heat which, according to a temperature sign in Fort William, was in the low 20s. While the temperature showcased the splendour of the route, it also made for a tough day and made staying fully hydrated that little bit more difficult.
From a personal perspective, I was pretty nervous about the race and this was the likely cause for the total lack of sleep on the night before the race. Having completed the 95 mile West Highland Way Race in apocalyptic weather conditions towards the end of June I next ran at the 40 mile Clyde Stride, expecting to have fully recovered by this point, 1 month later. However, the reality was quite different and I toiled to grind out a finish, with the body running ‘on empty’.
With only two weeks between the Clyde Stride and the Devil I was not overly hopeful of a good result! Fortunately things fared better for me than expected on the day, despite the heat in which I always suffer. I took 12 minutes off of my previous time, finishing in 9.50.55 in 90th position.
Perhaps more importantly than the time or position, I felt like I had a good overall run, with only the occasional dip and none of the absolute lows experienced in the previous two races. I had suffered particularly badly in the long climb out of Kinlochleven and had all but seen any chance of a PB slip away. However, managing to put in a good final 7 miles, I pulled this back.
I was even lucky enough to win a spot prize, a set of High 5 gels and energy source powders.
Next up is the Speyside Way Race in 3 weeks, my 7th and final ultramarathon for 2012.
The following is taken from last year’s Devil O’ The Highlands Race Report. The compulsory kit, elevation profile and route have not changed.
This list of safety equipment is to be carried by each competitor and a duplicate copy is also advised to be carried by the backup team:
I was supported by my wife Leanne and her brother Ross on race day. I didn’t take any photographs on the day but wanted to include this photograph, taken by Leanne, to show how stunning the route was on the day.
@rodeoboy155 hope the weather is fine for Loch Muick this weekend. Have a good run :o)
@rodeoboy155 difficult to say. You do pay a premium for them. There are a lot of other good barefoot shoes out there. Down to preference :o)
@rodeoboy155 Be sure to try on 4 size if poss. My Spyridons fractionally 2 big, ideally need a perfect fit. The original minimalist shoe :o)