Friday, 20 June 2014

How to follow the West Highland Way Race

If you wish to following this years West Highland Way Race remotely then you can do so online using the SPORTident website that will be updated as runners pass through each check point.  The page for tracking the race as whole is:

SPORTindent West Highland Way Race main page

From there you can type in your runners race number, which for me is no. 30, or your runners name, club.  The page allocated for myself is:

SPORTindent WHWR Page for Robert Osfield

Picture of Loch Lomond, I took in April, from the West Highland Way Route, 21 miles into the 95 mile way.
This will be the first time I have run a race longer than 53miles so from Tyndrum onwards I'll be in new territory, how my mind and body will cope with the distance, time on my feet and time awake I really don't know - I will find out something new about myself tomorrow, both physically and mentally, which is both daunting and exciting.

My plans for the race is start at a steady pace, and one that I feel that I should be able to maintain for a good distance into the race.  I really have no idea how long it'll take me to finish, but my in theory someone with my race times at other ultra's should be capable of a time in the 20 to 24hr range.  As so many factors can affect ones performance on the day there is no sure way of knowing.

One can dream and one can analyse spreadsheets of race results and trying to come up with various figures for goal times, the ones that I have settled on are:

  • Platinum - 20hrs : The is my perfect race performance. Looking at how other runners of similar capability at shorter races there is a small but not impossible chance that this might happen. You can dream though :-)
  • Gold - 21hrs 17minutes:  This figure is based on the 2.19 multiplier of my Highland Fling Time of 9:43 that I set this April.  The 2.19 value is the average ratio of previous Fling and WHWR finishers that blogger and ultra runner John Kynaston worked on this spring.  As this is an average it seems appropriate to give myself a 50:50 chance of hitting this target.
  • Sliver - sub 24hrs : Doing a sub 24hr WHWR is something that 69 runners out of the 181 starters achieved in the 2013 race, so it's still a very good performance and one I'd be very happy to achieve on my first attempt at running such a grand distance.
  • Bronze - sub 35hrs : Finishing with the 35hr cut off will mean that I'll achieve my main objective and this is to finish and be able to receive my WHWR finishers Goblet.  In theory I should be able to do a sub 24hr time, but running 95 miles is no small undertaking, many things can and will go wrong when running for so long.   If it does turn out that I'm finishing over 24hrs it's likely that I've really struggled over the last part of the race walking in during a second night or having to be awake and moving forward.  A time over 24hr would signify I greater struggle and determination to finish that will likely to be required if all goes well, so even just finishing I'll be very very chuffed with.

If you are following the race via the SPORTident website you'll be able to see how I'm progressing through the race, and my using the pacing spreadsheets I developed in preparation for the race you should be able to spot how my race is going - whether I'm finishing really strong like last Marco Cosani who came 2nd last year, or struggling more a finishing more like the average runner.

The following spreadsheet use Marco's overall pacing but recalibrates to a range of finishing times, if I am able to finish as strongly then my split times should fit along one of the columns which then would indicate the type of time I might finish in.

Perhaps more likely given I'm new to runner 95 miles will be something closer to the average runner, who typically starts out too fast for their fitness levels and struggles much more walking much of the later stages of the race.  My approach to pacing in theory should be more like Marco's but there is no way I will know whether I can keep going steadily right to the end till I do arrive at Fort William. Follows is the set of splits and projected finishing times for the average splits calibrated to a range of finishing time.  Again look up the check point elapsed times and find the column closest.

Note how the times for the first leg to Drymen at similar for both tables but the finishing time is widely different - the strong finishing would see me finish 3 and half hours quicker than if I can't maintain the pace and finish more like the average runner.

Fingers crossed all my preparation and training will help me finish, and finish strong.  6 months training, 1243 miles run in training and race and I'm fitter and stronger than at any other time in my adult life, but will I be a match for the West Highland Way and all it's midgies?

I am totally excited to find out! :-)

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