Fort William Marathon – 30. 7. 17

Race Report by Lesley Keighley

Ok so you could be thinking this is a marathon in and around the highland town of Fort William.  But no the start and finish is 7 miles outside Fort William at the Nevis Range Mountain Resort, which overlooks Annoch Mor. So early on the morning Rachel myself and Sandy and Parky left the town of Fort William to the every day tourist searching for their Tartan and Tweeds in the high street, we were off in search of a journey through the highlands.

I knew this was going to be tough but wanted to do something that was not going to be humdrum for my 65th year.  Right from the start there was a sense of this is going to be different when we were given a good spray down by the midge marshall!  The little blighters were out in force! Just under 400 hundred runners lined up at the start to the sound of the bagpipes.  We all set off in high spirts and yes straight away the only way was UP! My longest run in training was about 16 miles due to different issues. I was chatting to a local runner who I told ” I’m good on hills” she said ” Its the downs that count ” as I realised in the last 3 miles how right she was!

The forest trail gave way to breath taking scenery. The sort which reaches out touches the very soul of your being. The first spectators point was at Spean Bridge, this was where the commandoes were trained in top secret for the 2nd world war. Sandy and Parky were waiting for us.  Rachel had gone through before me “looking strong”. I decided to leave my waterproof with Sandy, which was not a good move! By the time I got Gairlochy it was pouring!

The course went on to the Caledonian Canal for 7 miles still with stunning scenery. I arrived at the 20 mile point much to Sandys amusement wearing a bin liner to keep dry. Then the sun came out!  So only 10k to go, and off I went high as a kite!  At 22 and a half miles my garmin gave up, I noticed it said 4hrs 40. 3 and a bit to go feeling good! At 24 miles the course turned off the road up on to path to the Nevis Centre. This last section was tree roots, boulders, rickety bridges, sharp climbs, and deep hollows. It was I was told the scene of many of the 1745 Rebellion fighting between the Jacobite’s and the Red Coats. Well time for my Rebellion!

My down hills are poor and at one deep hollow I threw myself against a tree to prevent myself going head first in! At last I could hear the loudspeaker and the carpark came into view, but with a cruel twist we had to face a loop up back through the trees. Then as we came down there it was the finish! At this point the man on the loud speaker announced my arrival as 2nd lady in my age group. But as I was two yards from the line I was beaten in to third place by a woman that knew “Its the downs that count”.

Had the most awesome time loved every second took photos stopped to chat a few times, downhills need a lot of work! Lesley 6hr 02 min

Rachel had a storming run, she just gets better 5hrs 14min

Thanks to Sandy and Parky for their wonderful support.

Lesley Keighley.