The West Highland Way Race 2013

Entry to the 2013 West Highland Way Race has only been open a few hours and already the entries are coming in (up to 33 by first thing Thursday 1st November). It’s not first come first served and entrants have the month of November to get their entries in, and yet people still rush to enter as soon as entry goes live. That’s the kind of enthusiasm that this race engenders. And yes, in case you were wondering – I was one of those early entrants. Number 8 in fact!

If 95 miles with 14,760ft of ascent is your thing and you have some experience of ultras already, why not check out the West Highland Way website:

I wrote the following posts in the lead up to and aftermath of the 2012 West Highland Way Race. Read them and wonder why on earth I would want to put myself through that again!

Winter Ultra & 10k

The Winter Ultra and 10k race takes place on Sunday 9th December, with a 28 mile option and a 10k option, offering something for everyone. The 28 mile run starts at the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven, while the 10k starts at midday from Bridge of Orchy.

The race, organised by Sandbaggers, will be fully marked out with regular manned water stations and will run under the Sandbaggers event & expedition insurance policy.

The race will benefit two local charities:

  • Michelle Henderson Cervical Cancer Trust
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health

The races are priced at £40 for the ultra and £30 for the 10k. Check out the Sandbaggers entry page for more information.

Anyone who has run or walked on the West Highland Way will already be familiar with the beautiful route. At least at this time of year, there should be no midge problem!

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Gaiters are a great addition to trail running kit as they can keep all manner of debris out of your shoes. A new addition to the Ultramarathon Running Store is a selection of Dirty Girl Gaiters (not just for girls!). Definitely beats stopping to remove stones from your shoes!

Keep the debris out of your shoes with style and sass. And you’ll have something fun to look at while you hang your sorry head and shuffle your tired feet. This soft, comfortable four-way stretch spandeXy uniseXy gaiter hooks under the front shoe lace and secures to the back of the shoe with a self-adhesive velcro strip.

There’s even a video outlining how to attach Dirty Girl Gaiters to Vibram Five Fingers.

Tips For Cold Weather Running

The temperature certainly seems to have plummeted this morning and so the latest Brooks email couldn’t have arrived at a more appropriate time – ‘Hydration Tips For Cold Weather Running’ by Jesse Kropelnicki and Jaime Windrow of The Core Diet.

Some of the article content wasn’t new to me. I was, for example, all too aware that sweating is still an issue, even on those really cold days. If anything, it can actually be more of an issue. All too often I have layered up before leaving the warmth of the house and stepping in to the cold, only to find that I have overdone it as little as 1/2 mile later and finding myself forced to discard some of those layers!

I was also aware that ‘cold air is dry air’, with less moisture in the air, which can actually increase the risk of dehydration. A Buff often helps with this, especially on those ‘really’ cold days. It takes a bit of getting used to at first but a Buff worn over the mouth helps to take the chill off of cold dry air.

What I didn’t realise, however, was that blood becomes thicker in colder temperatures:

“Blood viscosity increases (becomes thicker) in cold temps. The thicker the blood, the harder to pump! If combined with dehydration, oxygen delivery can really be impacted. Because of this, it’s essential to keep enough fluids in the system.”

You learn something every day!

Enjoy running in the cold, and be sure to stay hydrated!

Beyond 26.2 On Dirt

I came across the following on the excellent Trail Runner Mag website, ‘Beyond 26.2 On Dirt’, “Five tips to not only survive but happily finish your first ultra“.

  1. Break the race into small sections
  2. Expect the unexpected
  3. Listen to your body
  4. Keep pouring fuel in the tank
  5. Find a reason to finish

5 excellent tips in an article well worth a read, especially for anyone considering their first ultra, something that may well be on the minds of those considering signing up for any of the Scottish Ultra Marathon Series races for the first time.

At the time of writing, entry is open for the Hoka Highland Fling (500 limit + relay teams), and the Devil O’ The Highlands (150 limit), with both races approximately 50% full already.

I particularly liked the following, from ‘Find a reason to finish’:

“Before the inaugural Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, race director Fred Abramowitz told a room full of race entrants, ‘You are not all going to finish. Some of you are going to have good reasons for DNFing and others not so good reasons. One hundred miles is a long way and the only way you’re going to finish is if you find a reason to finish. I don’t care if it’s as simple as telling yourself that you don’t want to show up to work on Monday and explain to your co-workers that you dropped out of a race. Find a reason and believe it.'”

Trail Runner Mag is a great read and overseas subscriptions are available, well worth considering for all the latest race reports, routes and gear. The only ‘downside’ is wanting to ‘pop over’ to run the amazing trails!

Ultimate Direction Signature Series

Ultimate Direction utilised the input of Anton Krupicka, Peter Bakwin & Scott Jurek to produce the Signature Series range of packs which should meet the needs of ultramarathoners and fastpackers. Buzz Burrell shares the inspiration behind the Ultimate Direction Signature Series in the video above.

The Peter Bakwin inspired pack, the PB Adventure Vest, looks particularly interesting, with up to 12L capacity and weighing only 12oz.

Suunto Ambit Voted The Best New GPS Watch For 2012

The Suunto Ambit has been voted the best new GPS watch introduction for 2012 by the Heart Rate Watch Company.

 “Suunto Ambit can get you back to your car in a blizzard and analyze your cumulative training effect, according to the Heart Rate Watch Company. No matter what the outdoor sport, this watch represents the best of GPS and navigational technology brought together.”

“We wanted to wait and give the Garmin fenix a good side-by-side comparison with the Suunto Ambit”, says Rusty Squire, President of the Heart Rate Watch Company. He adds, “What we found is at the present time the Suunto has more advanced exercise features thanks to several firmware updates, which does not preclude Garmin from adding these features but they are about 4 months behind Suunto at this time”.

Suunto Ambit Betters Garmin fenix In The Battle Of Firmware

“Since the arrival of the ultimate GPS watches, the Suunto Ambit and the Garmin fenix, it has become apparent that firmware updates and improvements will win a battle that is far from over, according to the Heart Rate Watch Company.”

“Judging these two watches is not an apples-to-apples comparison at the moment because Suunto is nearly several firmware updates ahead”, says Rusty Squire, President of the Heart Rate Watch Company. He adds, “What is obvious is the Suunto Ambit vision is to maximize fitness features and Garmin has not declared that vision yet”.