Hoka Highland Fling 2013

416 solo runners and 48 relay teams finished the 2013 Hoka Highland Fling on Saturday 27th April. Solo times ranged from Lee Kemp’s record breaking 07:02:50 through to the final finisher in a time of 15:11:13. Relay times ranged from 06:37:45 through to 11:49:54.

1st Lee Kemp 07:02:50
2nd Ricky Lightfoot 07:09:30
3rd Matt Williamson 07:21:51
1st Tracy Dean 09:12:21
2nd Fionna Cameron 09:13:35
3rd Sandra Bowers 09:17:02
1st Stonehaven Top Dogs 06:37:45
2nd Carnegie Cowboys 07:01:06
3rd The Breen Team 07:14:59

Full results are available online:

Suunto Ambit2 & Ambit2 S

“A year after its much-anticipated launch, the Suunto Ambit line is being upgraded through bifurcation, specialization, and adaptation to an unexpected level of user engagement. Launching May 1 around the world are the Suunto Ambit2 and Suunto Ambit2 S. The Ambit2 is geared toward the explorer and ultra-distance endurance athlete with the longer battery life of the pair and the inclusion of barometric sensors. On the other hand, the Ambit2 S is slimmed down to provide a lighter, more nimble option for the vast majority of endurance athletes who don’t need crazy-long battery life or barometric altitude sensors.”

2013 Hoka Highland Fling

“Scotland’s Hoka Highland Fling 53-mile race will be run on Saturday, April 27th. Now in its eighth year, this is expected to be the most popular ultra in the UK this year with 593 solo entrants plus 50 relay teams, certainly bigger than any ultras in recent years back in Blighty (that’s Britain for those not familiar with the term). It reflects the continuing growth of ultras globally and it’s good to see races in my homeland doing so well.”

It speaks volumes about the success of the Hoka Highland Fling when renowned ultra athlete Ian Sharman previews the race on www.irunfar.com, home of everything ultra. This will be my first absence from the race for 3 years, with 1 DNF and 2 finishes to my name. As gutted as I am to miss the race, it’s for a good reason, and I will be back fitter and, hopefully(!), faster in years to come. Ironically, it looks like the weather is going to be far from the balmy temperatures of years gone by which would have been perfect for me. Hopefully it’s not too cold for all concerned.

Best of luck to everyone running. I look forward to hearing how everyone does on the day.

S-Lab’s New Adventures In Hydration

There’s an excellent article, ‘S-Lab’s New Adventures In Hydration‘, over at runtramp.com.

“The whispers started around about when Kilian Jornet showed up in Chamonix for the 2009 UTMB wearing what looked like, for all intents and purposes, a waistcoat- albeit an extremely technical looking one. Hindsight tells us that what he was in fact wearing was an early prototype of a hydration pack that would prove to be a game-changer in the world of trail running- it was, to give it it’s full title, the Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 5 Hydration Pack. It quickly became clear that there was some really exciting race-refuelling projects going on behind the secretive doors of the S-Lab.”

“The era of carrying a hydration pack was, in the eyes of the S-lab/Athlete collaboration, well and truly over. The era of wearing a hydration pack, as Kilian’s dominant UTMB display that year confirmed, had begun.”

As a fan of both the Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 Set 2013 and the new soft flasks, this made for an interesting read that provided a hint as to what’s to come from this range.

Run Strong Run Free Barefoot Running Workshop

Anna and David from www.barefootrunninguk.com are returning north of the border once again to host ‘Run Strong Run Free, an introduction to the science and art of barefoot running workshop’.

The workshop will take place on Saturday 22nd June from 9am to 6pm at The Gillis Centre in Edinburgh.

The cost of the workshop, limited to 12 people, is £90 and bookings can be made via www.barefootrunninguk.com.

Workshop Content:

“The workshop is based on our book Run Strong Run Free: An introduction to the science and art of barefoot running.  The focus is very much on anatomy, movement and running mechanics so any runner will benefit, regardless of ability, fitness level or footwear type.  The day includes a mixture of theory and practical work and participants will received individual feedback on their technique.”

Venue details: The Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1BB (www.gilliscentre.org.uk)

Mizuno Wave EVO Ferus

Here’s some information about the new Ferus, the zero drop trail shoe from Mizuno due for release in the UK soon. With 8mm cushioning, there are similarities to the recently released Levitas. The Ferus, however, has an Active-X outsole with an aggressive lug pattern suited for all-terrain use.

It’s All About Running Form

  • Flexible & Light
  • Zero Drop For The Trail
  • Run Wild & Free

Wave Evo Ferus is a brand new trail shoe for the lighter weight speedster, joining its road running brother and sister, the Evo Cursoris and Levitas, the Mizuno low profile, zero drop offerings that hit the market at the beginning of 2013.

Being zero drop, the Mizuno Wave Evo range, puts the foot on a natural plane tailored to midfoot running, where the foot lands closer to the body and strikes with the mid/forefoot. Running this way uses the plantar and calf muscles creating a softer landing.

The Ferus (which means fierce) is closely related to the lower profile Evo Levitas and is perfect for those who want to run wild and free – for lighter, faster trail runners who are midfoot strikers or for those who want to be. The zero drop shoe offers the perfect platform for the trail, where running is naturally on the forefoot.

Mizuno AP+™ is in the heel and a Mizuno EVO Wave Plate® is the forefoot. The benefit of the Wave in the forefoot is that it will provide cushioning and stability and also protection from uneven surfaces – the things you encounter on the trail. The Wave offers a wide flat gauge. The toe box is a little less roomy than the road versions in order to provide more support to hold you on uneven ground.

Mizuno Dynamotion Fit™ promises a superb fitting upper allowing the shoe to move in harmony with the foot. The seamless upper has minimal stitching enhanced by welded X-straps for a firm but flexible forefoot fit. And an Airmesh upper and removable sock means the shoe will breathe.

The main difference with the off-road version is on the outside of the shoe. When it comes to traction Mizuno’s Active-X outsole features X-Lug sole for multi-directional traction, and versatile grip, with X-lugs varying in height and size, while the 8mm midsole offers unencumbered movement.


  • RRP: £100
  • Weight Men size 10: 230g; Women size 6: 190g
  • Zero ramp: 8mm/8mm
  • Dynamotion Fit™
  • Aysmmterical lacing
  • Wave Plate® in the foot, AP+™ in the heel
  • X-Lug sole for multi-directional traction
  • Wet Traction: Bi-Directional outsole rubber synthetic leather compound breaks through water, improving grip in all conditions

My First DNS

Back in March 2010 I ran my first ultramarathon, the inaugural D33 ultra, from the Duthie Park Aberdeen to Banchory and back again. Since then, I have accumulated 16 finishes and 1 DNF. This week will see my add my first ever DNS (Did Not Start) to the list and, as much as it pains me to do so, I am almost certain that it is the right thing to do.

If you are familiar with my blog at all, you may have read my ‘D33 Or Bust‘ and/or ‘When Ultras Go Bad – D33 2013‘ posts. In the run up to the D33 my training was almost non-existent, with a distinct lack of long slow runs. Since the birth of my son Harris on 28th February 2013, running has not factored into my daily life in any way that could be construed as meaningful training and, since the 18th March, when I dragged myself around the D33, I have run only a handful of times and only ever over short distances.

There have been no long slow runs, other than that day at the D33 which certainly felt very long, and very, very slow. There have been no speed sessions, no hill sessions, nothing other than a few miles here and there, with none of those miles feeling particularly good.

If anything, I feel even less prepared for the Fling than I did for the D33. Given the extra 20 miles distance and the considerably more ‘undulating’ nature of the Fling route, that’s only to be expected. However, there’s more to it than that. I do think that I could get to the finish, albeit with a potential personal worst time. Or at least, I thought I could get to the finish – Right up to the point where I caught a virus that started with flu like symptoms and then proceeded to move down into my chest, leaving me feeling far from 100% some 2 weeks later.

With less than a week to go, I know that it’s too late to try and cram in any meaningful training, when in fact, anyone running the race should at least be considering a decent taper. I know what lies in store, and I know that it’s tough for me at the best of times – and this certainly isn’t ‘the best of times’ where my running fitness is concerned.

The part that pains me is the part that suspects I could still finish, the part that knows I am stubborn enough to even consider it, never mind actually get myself to the finish. This time last year I finished the Fling with a new PB despite a reduced lung capacity (approx 70-80%) as a result of a chest infection (I always seem to time them just right!). However, I did also have approx 5-6 times as many miles in the legs thanks to a fairly successful start to the years training, unlike this year. Perhaps not the best thing to do on the back of a chest infection but then, ‘sensible’ generally doesn’t figure in my vocabulary.

So what’s changed this year? Why so ‘sensible’ all of a sudden? Two words – Opportunity Cost. If I could have done the Fling in the same way as I did the D33 then I would likely be there on the starting line. Up early, breakfast, into the race, run it then back home to the family, all nicely within the confines of a day.

The time spent out running would be approximately twice that spent running at the D33 but, still, the time away from the family would be kept to a minimum. However, Harris is still a ‘feeding machine’, and we have yet to travel any real distance with him. As such, taking Leanne and Harris along to Glasgow is out of the question. (That actually should be Leanne taking me to Glasgow as I have still to learn to drive!) That limits my options to a days holiday on the Friday, heading down to Glasgow by train or bus, ariving in plenty time to prepare, running the race on the Saturday and then returning, again via train or bus, to Ellon at some point on the Sunday. At best 2 days away, the best part of 3 at worst.

I’m just not ready for that, not yet. I already miss enough family time now that I am back to work and I just don’t fancy adding to that, at least not for now. And when I do the Fling next, I want to be in a better place training wise. I don’t want to have to drag myself around in the same way that I did at the D33.

It has been pointed out to me by a valued friend that the Fling was the best opportunity that I had to get in a decent 50 miles approx. training run for the West Highland Way Race and that, without that, the chances of me finishing the West Highland Way Race are considerably reduced. I appreciated the honesty of the comment and, in fact, totally agree with it.

However, I have not yet given up on the 2013 West Highland Way Race. I do hope to be there on the start line on 22nd June, praying that there is no repeat of the apocalyptic weather of the previous year; I do still intend on getting that second goblet; and I do hope that a PB is up for grabs (surely, if I can avoid the issues that complicated my 2012 race!!!).

That same friend pointed out that the issue of sacrifices and time constraints are going to be there for years to come, not just in these early stages of childhood, and that I need to ask myself how important ultras are to me. Having given it considerable thought, I can state that they are definitely less important to me than they were this time last year. However, having said that, I am not yet ready to consider totally abandoning ultras. I still want to push myself to the limits, to get some more finishes in and, hopefully, even, to improve!

Hopefully by the time 22nd June comes around, I will be in a position to race and/or to know for sure if I am willing and able to factor in the required training without sacrificing too much from family life.

All the very best to everyone who is running the Fling this weekend. I hope that the weather is kind, that you all have a great day, and that you bag those new PBs.

Merrell Blog – 10 Best Trail Runs In The UK

Thanks to Merrell for the mention on their recent Merrell Blog post, 10 Best Trail Runs In The UK. I had a small amount of input in suggesting the West Highland Way as a potential route for their 10 Best Trail Runs In The UK post. It’s good to see Scotland being included in the post as it’s so often forgotten in the national media when this kind of listing is compiled. I particularly liked the inclusion of the West Highland Way Race weather warning:

“Weather. There will be some. When the sun shines, it’ll be hot. When it’s raining, it’ll be cold and wet. If it’s windy, there’ll be less midges.”

Read the full post:


Just a quick post to say thanks for all the views. The www.pixelscotland.com website hit the 20,000 views mark on 22nd April. I started recording website statistics back in June 2012 and the site appears to be increasing in popularity each month. So, thanks for dropping by, and if you have any suggested improvements, ideas, gear for review, anything basically, please do drop me an email info@pixelscotland.com.

New 2013 UltrAspire Range

The New UltrAspire range for 2013 is available now on: http://www.ULTRAmarathonRunningStore.com



Similar to the popular Isomeric Pocket hand held, the Isomeric Magnon has a sweat proof Magnon Electrolyte Pocket™ to keep your pills dry, but close at hand


Upgraded handheld models for 2013 with new lighter weight / sweat-proof materials


16 oz (0.47L) bottle with an Infusion Valve and StemCell 5/16ths diameter Straw. Bottle is angled for easier, gravity assisted, ergo friendly delivery

Hydration Packs/Race Vests


Proprietary Passage Pocket™ with left and right-handed access, which is fully accessible while wearing the pack. No worry dual magnetic closures. External shock cord for jacket or reservoir compression. Weight: 207 grams.


Revolutionary new twin bottle hydration vest that integrates with a MBS (Molecular Belt System™) Connector of your choice! Adjustable torso height. The result is a fully adjustable and interchangeable running system that you can customize. Weight: 298 grams.

Existing models have been further improved for 2013 with many technical enhancements and material changes including:


UltrAspire discovered moisture, mostly sweat, and salt and other solubles, are absorbed into webbing, which can become completely saturated during a run. UltrAspire’s answer to the problem? Sweat proof webbing! Your pack shouldn’t weigh you down anymore at the moments you need to feel the lightest.


‘What could help keep you from overheating?’ UltrAspire’s answer – Larger holes in the mesh! UltrAspire created some custom mesh with holes a hundred percent larger than standard race vests for increased ventilation. An added result is that the products are even lighter weight.

2013 SPRY

  • New UltrAspire 1 Litre bladder now included
  • Weight: 160 grams ( 280g with reservoir )
  • Colours: UltraRed, Precipitous Blue, Purpleocity

2013 SURGE

  • Lite weight racing hydration vest with dual side compression and 2L hydration compartment
  • Weight: 290 grams ( 430g with reservoir )
  • Colours: Pitch Black, Ultra Red

2013 OMEGA

  • Larger version of the Surge. The ideal 100 mile hydration race vest
  • Volume: 500 c.i. ( 8.2 litres ). Weight: 320 grams
  • Colours: Precipitous Blue, Purpleocity


  • Minimal efficiency single bottle race vest.Weight: 240 grams
  • Colours: UltraRed


  • New sizing guide available for this twin bottle power packed race vest
  • Weight: 380 grams ( 600g with bottles )
  • Colours: UltraRed (S/M), Pitch Black (L/XL)


  • Twin bottle fastpacking race vest, lite weight but roomy enough to carry sleeping gear & extra clothing
  • Volume: 1000 c.i. ( 16.39 litres ). Weight: 600 grams ( 819g with bottles )
  • Colours: UltraRed