After a year in the wilderness, the Maryhillbillies returned to the Highland Fling with a vengeance on Saturday! Arriving at the Milngavie start line was a formidable line up, featuring Kieran, Andy, Scott and Alan, and hopes were high that the Harrier men could perform strongly.
Kieran was first off, running the 12.6 miles from Milngavie to Drymen. Deep into training for the upcoming Stirling marathon, Kieran was on fine form, powering home in 1:27:16 and leaving the Harriers in 8th place out of the 50 teams. Even more impressive was that he then went out and ran another 6 miles as a training run before meeting up with us later! Also great to see Linda at the checkpoint, who was incredibly chirpy for someone with another 40 miles to run! More on her incredible achievement to come I’m sure.
Next up was Andy, who had began to look increasingly pumped up and confident as we waited for Kieran that the teams in front could be caught. Andy’s leg from Drymen to Rowardennan is not only the longest at 14.6 miles but includes climbing and descending Conic Hill in the middle. Andy’s pre-run confidence was not misplaced as he hunted down the teams in front with ease, Linda later commenting that she spotted him ‘storming’ up Conic Hill. As Alan and I waited for him to pass us at the Balmaha car park, we were astonished to here that he had managed to pull as back to 2nd place! A truly excellent time of 2:03:43 had put the Hillbillies into contention!
A quick drive up to the next changeover at Rowardennan, where we grabbed a chance to chat with a few of the other teams as Andy came in. It was then my turn to pick up the timing band and take off on my 13.7 mile section towards Beinglas. I had been warned by both Chris and Craig W to not be lured into thinking it was ‘only’ 13 miles, as this section included some extremely tricky technical sections with a wee bit of rock scrambling and ledge-shuffling to boot. Very much a run of two halves, I found the first 7 miles a joy as the route weaved round the side of the loch taking in some stunning views. Then things began to get interesting, as I was slowed to walking pace on some of the climbs. A podium place was suddenly not worth a broken neck, but I managed to pick it up when I could. Really began to struggle after 10 miles which seemed to go on forever, but eventually the next changeover was insight and I came into Beinglas in 2:22:12 and preserving our 2nd place. Knees and calves aching, it was lovely of Kieran to then inform me of the Old Firm score to soothe my pain….not.
Onto Alan for the final 12.6 mile leg towards Tyndrum. Another who is in marathon training mode at the moment, we had high hopes that Alan could carry us home to a podium finish. A few teams had arrived within minutes of me finishing, so we knew the the gap was tight. Knowing that the Bellahouston Road Runner team had finished as arrived in Tyndrum, it was a nervy wait at the finish line to find out how we had done. Alan did not disappoint, running excellently in 1:37:46, and there were jubilant scenes as he came down the red carpet to confirm a superb 2nd placed finish for the Harriers! A fantastic effort from the guys, who all ran brilliantly.
After a quick shower, we got to sample the incredible Fling hospitality of unlimited baked potatoes, soup and beer as we cheered on the Ultra finishers. It was then time for our big podium moment before heading home at the end of an excellent day. Huge thanks to all the volunteers and organisers for making the Fling such an excellent event.
The relay was won by the Bellatubbies in a total time of 6:57:05.
2nd – Maryhill Harriers – 7:30:57.