'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


1 comment:

  1. Great overview of the race here, thanks for posting. I'm also training for a marathon with SportMe running appwhich calculates distance, pace, time and calories and adjusts running plans to my progress.


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