'The Fort William Marathon will reward you with some amazing and unique sights. Run in the shadow of Ben Nevis and follow the Great Glen Way along Thomas Telford’s Caledonian Canal with Neptune’s Staircase. The Commando Memorial, General Wade’s High Bridge and the remains of the old railway viaduct all await you on this spectacular, challenging, multi-terrain route'

Staying just ten minutes away, with our friend Gillian and her little daughter Gail at nearby holiday apartments in Fort William, we arrive in good time for registration. Sadly Sunday couldn't make the marathon like planned as didn't get the extra time off from work, so it is just me and my G&G crew!

Nice bib number

A smooth and quick registration in the cafe at the Nevis Range Gondola Centre. I attach my number and chip to my trainer with cable ties provided. Little Gail has her breakfast and hot chocolate whilst myself and Gillian catch up with fellow Bosh runners Anne and Sandra. They too have come up all the way from Brighton and made a mini break holiday here in Scotland....

Discussing Smidge That Midge and the scent of deet...

Smoothered in insect repellant, we laugh about the smell and aroma we will be giving off once we warm up. Hopefully it will keep all the biting midges at bay. 

June to September is swarming with the little nasties and I didn't realise how much so until arriving in the mountains yesterday...

Team G&G 

I catch up with organiser Chris Millard and running friend Simon. Approx 450 runners have entered the inaugural event but nearly 70 or so have not shown up. 

I did think as this is the very first marathon venture at the Nevis Range resort, it would have been perhaps more popular and that the Lochaber Marathon discontinued.

Then next year will look to be far more runners once a base is established...

 With Tom, Anne, Sandra and photobombed by Gail...

We all head on outside to find the start as the area had not yet been set up when we arrived. The atmosphere is all so relaxed and calm, little too calm for what I am used to in the busy and congested  south. 

We chat amongst ourselves and I meet another Bosh runner Tom and his missus. Tom trains hard around his home in Perth and is training up for his first ultra in the autumn. Today is his first marathon race. 

Catching up and meeting Maz

We spot Maz, another Bosh runner who is here on holidays. It's great to see everyone and before we realise it is just 15 minutes until the race start.

I make my way close to the front pack, but not too close. I can see all the club runners and locals. It's easy to spot them as they always wear running shorts, myself, however am staying with my compression tights as usual and a tech tee with arm sleeves. I can always roll them down if get warm later.

The weather is pleasant and perfect for running, not too humid and what feels like a fresh spring morning. With plenty of heavy cloud and a low chance of some breaks of sunshine, it won't be getting too warm along the route today.

Waiting patiently for the go!

After a count down from Chris over the loud speakers we are off and running to the front of the Gondola entrance that meets the trail into the forest. 

Plenty of cheering and clapping from everyone standing by and watching as we pass...

Let's take a selfie shall we?!

MILES 0-14
Everyone follows the big group of runners, like a bottle neck out onto the forest trail and then with guidance from the marshals to turn up the hill, Gillian and Gail cheer and hoot at the exit of the Nevis Range in true supporter style...

The steady climb through Leanachan Forest

Gravel footpaths on forest trails

Eventually the group spreads out and many runners over take, then sprint off once the trail starts to flatten to an undulating route. 

The route winds through the beautiful Leanachan Forest for the next eight miles ahead.

View to Ben Nevis at 5 miles in...

I settle into my pace and enjoy the spectacular views ahead along the forest trail. I chat to some of the passing runners and one chap asks about Bosh and what it stands for. After a brief description of the Facebook running group and we like to 'Bish, Bash, Bosh' our runs, so to speak, I wish the local well and watch him speed off ahead of me...

I am carrying a small hip flask bottle, small enough to fit into my Inov-8 waist pack and also easy enough to carry. I have a half tablet of NUUN and some Hilmalayan Salt added to the water. I am using the water from the aid stations and then saving this bottle for when I need it later...

Trail Porn with a stunning back drop

After the Commando Memorial trail section and navigating through the short and sharp climbs, then up to the visitors parking lot. We are greeted with plenty of cheering supporters and a small crowd have formed here. It is quite a tough and rugged incline to reach them, but very worth it once we do!

I can see my crew jumping and shouting me on, Gail is now wearing her mums Bosh hoody, so it stands out from afar as it is sizes too big!...

Water stop checkpoint at mile 8

Approaching eleven miles and turning onto the Caladonian Canal for the tow path section. I play cat and mouse with a few of the runners along this section and then once starting to feel comortable and warmed up enough, I pick up the pace. 

The path is long, flat and windy, so I can count clearly how many runners are up ahead of me. Slowly and ever so gradually I reach each runner, seven in total and manage to over take them. 

There are still plenty of passing by supporters and walkers, who all smile, clap and wish us well as we pass them. So friendly here. 

Heading towards the Canal at mile 11

MILES 15-27
After a very long stretch, six miles in total and a few water stops along the way, the route eventually turns off at Banavie near the Quarry. Then a small lane through a village before reaching Lochaber High School and the A3830 that leads into Fort William.

I can feel my legs starting to fatigue from the flat and hard footpath, but I keep my pace at a steady 7:45min/mile as much as possible and distract myself with the scenery. Once at the end of the road and by the Ben Nevis distillery at Lochybridge, the route joins the cylce path paralell to the A82.

Beautiful yet very flat asphalt along the Caladonian Canal

With just four miles left to go, the run has gone by quickly and the varied multi-terrain course has really helped to pass the time and to not feel bored too quickly. 

I start drinking the water I am carrying along with an SaltStick capsule. I chew on a jelly baby I found at one of the watert stops, then take some sips of olive oil I always carry along with me. 

The last few miles and after another water stop through the Leanachan Forest. The route climbs slowly until reaching the Nevos Range again. I can hear the cheers and loud speaker projecting through the trees someone. 

I am ready to finish now and my fatigued body is telling me that it is enough running for one day and after my recent injuries...

Last climb before another steep turn and then into the finish at Nevis Range

The very last short climb and then down the rutted trail under the trees and back out onto the starting track some three hours before. I try to sprint the best my legs will let me and reach the finish with a pleased and happy smile! 

All smiles coming to the finish line

I am greeted by Chris and Chrissie Millard with my goody bag and medal. I thank them for a fantastic warm welcome and a successful first time event today. They are beaming with joy watching the runners coming in. 

Tom did it, his first marathon complete

Oh hello fans!

I spot my cheering crew G&G and go to meet them. I check with Chris my position and offical time. I made it in 18th overall, from 292 finishers, 17th male in 3:22:25

Considering I have been rested up my ankles and taking things easier, I was quite impressed I still have most my level of fitness to manage a good and strong finish safely.

17th Male and 18th overall

Ankles held out and still some kind of fitness left in me...

Catching up with Tom and seeing how he found his first marathon was all good news and I am very pleased for him. He really enjoyed the mixture of terrain and it was good to see how the event unfolded for a first timer. It is always great to meet running friends old and new to experience their journey with them too!

Whiskey already opened!

The Ben nevis whikey worked wonders in my coffee at the finish. This was the nice treat in the goody bag and nice touch as a local tipple distilled near by...

Once changed into dry clothes we catch up with Maz, Sandra and Anne. they all had an amazing day and experience. I think they all are looking to come back again as a mini holiday and run the marathon next year!

The Bling

Tech Tee and Medal

View heading up on the Gondola

We take the opportunity to go up the Gondola to see the panoramic views from 2100ft above at Aonach mor, the eight highest mountain in Britain. It is not all the way up, but a good half way up. The clouds are coming in and it is looking to rain later.

There is a nice visitor centre once at the top of the Gondola and restaurant where I refuelled up on a Beef Burger with Haggis and chips!

Much needed and much enjoyed...

Thank you Scotland, it has been a very enjoyable time up here and such great support from all those involved, volunteering and to my great crew, Gillian and Gail for the pleasant stay and all the logistics involved.

See you all again...

Delicious Burger with Haggis



The race first begun in 2009 and is the brainchild of Anthony Taylor, Dick Kearn and the Trail Running Association.

The race only runs every two years and has run three times now, with around a 30-40% finishing rate, this is despite the calibre of runner that step onto the start line.

'The Thames Ring 250 is a 250mile trail race starting in Streatley-on-Thames and following the route on the map in a anti-clockwise direction. The route is mainly on canal and riverside paths and relatively flat. 
Runners have 100 hours  (4 days 4 hours) to complete the run, navigating using maps and being supported by checkpoints every 25 miles or so. 
Its an extremely tough run testing runners endurance to the limit along with long hours with little sleep and long dark nights'

I run the South Downs Way 100 just ten days ago, which went extremely well, much better than I planned. Although I raced it to my best on feel and smashed my best 100 miler time by hours, coming in second position overall.

So already I am going into this huge challenge of trying to finish the 250 miles, on perhaps, an unrested body and legs. Although I feel recovered enough, I am not sure how this will go until I get out there and after a day of running...

Energy Blends 
(mixture of fats, seeds and raw cacao)

I prepped the best I could, eating well with high, dense, nutrient rich foods and lots of fats and collagen (I eat a high fat lower carb diet). 

I kept my mileage low but enough to keep my legs active. I still have a slight hamstring strain so focused on that area with the foam roller. 

My race fuel for the event was already prepared before hand, I just needed to keep it cool before and during the run. 

Energy Blends
made up two tubs of melted ghee, goose fat, tahini with salt, linseed, pine nuts and maca powder. 

Then melted dripping, coconut oil, butter, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, raw cacao, salt, splash maple syrup and flaxseed in the other two tubs.

Other race fuel will consist of cheeses, black olives, avocado, bottles of olive oil, chocolate coffee beans, coffee with cream, macadamia nuts, salted almonds, cashew and brazil nuts.

Scout Hut registration

I stayed overnight just a few miles from Reading station in a Travelodge, so arriving for the start was not too difficult or expensive by taxi. 

Goring and Streatley station is 14 minutes by train, which was slightly delayed, left just 30 minutes until the race briefing at 9:30. 

I met other runners including Martin Bacon, whilst waiting for the train and it was nice to ease any nerves chatting about our crazy adventure ahead. 

We all walked together following Martin, as he knows the way, (power walked with our big bags) to the scout hut one mile away from the station.

Map One

Just after 9am we reach the scout hut in time for registration.

I collect my number, GPS tracker and first map of the route. It is good to meet Lindley rather than when I have been at a check point at a Centurion event. Two bags dropped, one for my change of running clothes and food supplies. The other for the finish or if I do not reach. Both bags will be transported to each checkpoint along the route. 

GPS Open Tracker

After the race briefing we head out for the start at the Thames Path Way, Goring. The sun is already warming up the air and it feels dry and intense on the skin. 

This could start to get tough this afternoon...

Not so lucky number...

Walking to the start at Goring

I borrowed my friend Shawn's Garmin Finex watch today, as battery life should last approx 30hours on ultra track mode. It also has the added feature of being able to recharge whilst on the move.

I had the display on and ready but cannot remember how to start the track. I press all the buttons and even scan the group around me for similar watches. Nobody seems to have this model. With Lindley counting down for the start I give up and just start my runkeeper for now.

Anticipation of 39 Ultra Runners

START 10:00
On the go, we plod along the footpath to the river then turn left onto the Thames Path Way. I stay with the front group and still try pressing and holding all the control buttons on the watch. 

Finally after holding the top right button the track begins.... about 0.50 mile late, but lesson learnt to read the manual the night before, which I did pack...

MILES 0-27
Chatting to nearby runners Allan Rumbles and then Javed Bhatti (who has already completed the complete ring finishing yesterday) who is running a double Thames Ring. So that's 500 miles in total if completed by the 100 hour cut off come Sunday night!

Once the track opens out to grass and the river bank I find my comfortable pace and settled into my run.

I am aiming to keep no quicker than 9-9:30min/mile for the first day and see how my body holds up. Sleep breaks when required later and hope my legs can keep it up for the entire journey...

I stay within seconds to the front runners which includes Andy Horsley, we chat about the recent South Downs and I double check the route with their map, as I dropped mine without realising after five miles...

Reading Mile 10

First Lady Karen Hathaway is close behind us once reaching the borough of Reading. Looking strong she is adopting a run/walk strategy by the looks of it.

Near Wokingham at ten miles and passing familiar checkpoints from other events I spot Paul Ali, who works nearby, supporting and taking photos as we pass him. Always good to see another runner routing for us.


The sun is strong now and it is feeling very warm already. The temperature is to reach 25C and above in London. There is very little breeze along this section so I take an S!Cap and drink plenty of water, I am very thirsty, more so than usual.

There are a few water taps along the way, which can be hard to spot at first, I refill where I can and ask at the locks to be let across to the water tap. I am refilling my carry bottle every hour.

Henley (Aston)

I enjoy the long stretch through Henley-On-Thames, taking in all the sights and activities from the local rowing clubs. So many are out training on the river in the stunning sunshine.

A shout out 'go Luke' when I run over one of the decking bridges into Henley. Which I later discover from text by Helen, that it was Susie Irvin, a mutual running friend of ours.

Once off the river bank and cutting through the estate grounds at Aston, meeting flocks of young Deer as I go.

This is a section I forgot about when running the Thames in the other direction.

Once reaching checkpoint one at Hurley, I am already topped up with water so just refuel from my supplies.

A warm welcome greets me here. Lindley checks I am well and says Martin is in the lead and only ten minutes ahead from here.

I tuck into my avocado, some olives and pack some cheese with me for later. I feel satisfied already and the breakfast of bulletproof coffee has kept me going until here. All I needed was a gulp of olive oil at 20 miles.

I'm aware of the time spent stopping and plan to stop longer at the later stages, so thank the team and carry on the pathway.

MILES 27-55


Windsor Castle


MILES 55-83

Hampton Court Palace 

Dusk on Thames Path Way

Meeting Grand Union Canal


Yiewsley with the girls

MILES 83-106

Water Lock

Dawn Break


MILES 106-130

Halfway through


MILES 130-156

Picture by Mark Cockbain

The sun is scorching and I can feel the heat through my cap on my head. Headache and the feeling of dizziness is usually a sign I am suffering heat stroke. Being so fair I've never coped too well under the hot sun in the summer months. 

The temperature is at its hottest this afternoon and I remember when checking the forecast how boiling it will get. As the Canal is so flat and open on this leg, without any breeze it feels much hotter than it is...

The sore ankles


Wonder Woman Karen Hathaway

Enjoying the left over energy blend, just add eggs to make my special no grain porridge