MONTANE HIGHLAND FLING 53 MILE TRAIL RACE - INCORPORATING UKA AND SCOTTISH ULTRA TRAIL CHAMPIONSHIPS
The 6th running of the Montane Highland Fling attracted a record filed of over 400 starters for the annual 53 mile race on the southern half of the West Highland Way trail. The large field necessitates staggered starts and the super vets and ladies were first off at 6am. Kate Jenkins (HBT) led from the start and by the time they reached Balmaha below Conic Hill on Loch Lomond side, had a clear lead.
Men’s course record holder Jez Bragg (North Face), victor here in 2009, was back to attempt to reclaim his title and when the main men’s start set off at 8am he was prominent in a small group that included Andy James and Stuart Mills(Brighton). At Balmaha (the 18 mile point ) Bragg seemed to be pushing things on in an attempt to break the group up.
The long and demanding stretch up the picturesque side of Loch Lomond to the checkpoint at Beinglass Farm(41 miles) left Jenkins with a clear almost 30 minute lead ahead of Scottish 100km international Debbie Consani (Garscube) in the women’s race.
The mid day temperatures were proving challenging and when James and Bragg appeared together after five and a half hours of running, it was James who looked the stronger as he momentarily stopped to grab his Drop bag of supplies and fill a water bottle, before pushing on and opening a 100 metre lead on Bragg, who took a more measured Check point approach, knowing a good hour and a half of running still lay ahead. He took a few moments to ensure he was well refuelled, also asking the checkpoint marshals to pour water over his head to combat the heat.
Jenkins, although slowing considerably on the last stretch up to the picturesque highland village of Tyndrum, still maintained a clear lead over Consani. The former record holder for the full 95 mile West Highland Way just missed the nine hour barrier with 9.04.24, the third fastest ladies time on the Highland Fling trail and with it claimed the UK and Scottish titles. Consani, just over a month after completing the UK 100km champs, showed her consistency by comfortably taking second place (9.39.32) and improving on her 2010 time by ten minutes, ahead of Clydesdale’s Heather Caulderwood (9.42.59).
In the men’s race it was Andy James who proved the stronger arriving at the finish in a new course record of 7.12.08, just over 3 minutes ahead of Bragg (7.15.12) who was also inside his former mark of 7.19.09. Colchester’s Allen Smalls came through strongly for 3rd and first vet. James, winner of the Lakeland 50 last summer, had come to the race hoping to run inside seven and a half hours but not really expecting to win.
Matt Williamson (Bellahouston Road Runners) after a steady start came through strongly in the second half of the race to take the inaugural Scottish ultra trail title in 5th place overall (7.46.11) ahead of the experienced Richie Cunningham (Carnegie)7.58.23.
With the Scottish team title decided on cumulative times of 3 team runners, Hunters Bog Trotters took the men’s medals and Helensburgh, including Ellen McVey one of the key race organisers, were a popular winner of the ladies team prize.
Full results at http://www.highlandflingrace.org/
1st Andrew James 7.12.08 (course record)
2nd Jez Bragg North Face 7.15.12
3rd Allen Smalls Colchester (V40) 7.43.31
4th Julian Rendall Thames H & H 7.45.33
5th Matt Williamson Bellahouston RR 7.46.11
6th Stuart Mills Brighton (MV40) 7.51.36
7th Ritchie Cunningham Carnegie H (MV40) 7.58.23
1st Kate Jenkins Hunters Bog Trotters 9.04.24
2nd Debbie Martin-Consani Garscube H 9.39.32
3rd Heather Caulderwood Clydesdale 9.42.59
4th Helen Lees Giffnock North (FV40) 9.51.51
5th Michelle Hetherington Helensburgh (FV40) 9.55.19