Friday, 24 April 2015

Highland Fling Live Updates, Splits & Plans

A quick post for family and friends so there know how to check my progress online, when I run the Highland Fling, a 53 mile ultra marathon that follows the West Highland Way from Milgnavie, Glasgow to Tyndrum.
Image courtesy of HighlanFling website.

First up, I've signed up for facebook updates, no clue if I've done it right or how exactly the times I'll pass through check points, I'm hoping it'll just appear in my facebook feed.

The race timing also has an website where you can check up on progress:

    Live ChipResults for Robert Osfield, race no. 679

Training had gone really well this year, looking at my training logs I should be on to beat my time of 9:43 set last year.  A spanner in the works in that on Wednesday during an gentle run my right knee suddenly became painful just 100 metres from home.  I've done short recovery runs on Thursday and today (Friday) to ease it off and it's just a little sore now, but a gentle 4 mile run is nothing like a hilly 53 mile race, so I'm just hoping it'll be fine tomorrow.

Based on my training logs I've estimated a range of finishing times, setting myself some rather lofty targets that I feel are possible if everything goes really well.

   Platinum : sub 8:50hr
   Gold : sub 9:00hr
   Silver:  sub 9:15hr
   Bronze: sub 9:45hr

The start time is 6:00am, so my likely finishing time should be between 3pm and 4pm.

Using last years splits as a guide I have created splits for the various check points, not off of these have timing mats, you'll only be able to get timing information for Drymen (12m), Rowardennan (28m), Beinglas (40m) and the finish at Tyndrum(53m). Splits for the first 27 miles are:

Finish Time Drymen Avg. Pace Balmaha Avg. Pace Rowardenan Avg. Pace
08:30:00 01:42 08:26 02:50 08:58 04:05 09:04
08:45:00 01:45 08:41 02:55 09:14 04:12 09:20
09:00:00 01:48 08:56 03:00 09:30 04:19 09:36
09:15:00 01:51 09:11 03:05 09:46 04:27 09:52
09:30:00 01:54 09:26 03:10 10:02 04:34 10:07
09:45:00 01:57 09:41 03:15 10:17 04:41 10:23

Splits for the second half are:

Inversanid Avg. Pace Beinglas Avg. Pace Tyndrym Avg. Pace
05:09 09:08 06:34 09:36 08:30 09:39
05:18 09:24 06:45 09:53 08:45 09:56
05:27 09:40 06:57 10:10 09:00 10:13
05:36 09:56 07:09 10:27 09:15 10:30
05:45 10:12 07:20 10:44 09:30 10:47
05:55 10:28 07:32 11:01 09:45 11:04

I had question about what food I eat, so here's a photo of the food and drink going in my drop bags that I'll pick up at the above check points:

Food & Drink, Left at start @ Milgnavie, Right end at last checkpoint before Finish
That's 1.7 Litres of fluids, and around 2000 calories.  Drinks are either chocolate milkshake or homemade youghart and cherry juice, or with raspberry flavouring, or a bottle made up zero calories electrolyte + caffine.  Fruit and nutes, bannana, liquish and cereal bars make up the solids.

A days calories all to be consumed in last than ten hours, whilst running, won't get fat though as I'll be burning around 6000 calories! ;-)

Best of luck to all those who are racing or marshalling tomorrow.


  1. Good luck tomorrow Robert! Hope it goes really well for you. Those are ambitious, but achievable targets and based on when I saw you on the rollercoaster last year, you can really nail this.

    Looking at the numbers, I was surprised at the Beinglas to Tyndrum splits that you have used. Last year, three runners were below 1:55 (and they were top four finishers). Very few runners get around two hours for this leg either, even those up at the very sharp end of the field. Like you, my best time for this leg is 2:12 and I know that I could do it a wee bit faster, but only with very careful pace management for the first 41 miles. I remember struggling with 2:17 for the final leg one year and still getting to Tyndrum in under 9 hours - I don't think I could have gained much time if I had taken things easier during the day (and have now put that to the test). What I'm saying is that I think you ran a blinder on the final leg last year and it'll be difficult to improve too much on that (but think about that tomorrow as you head up Glen Falloch and please prove me wrong!)

    I'd reckon the time savings will come from the first leg to Drymen, where you can shave off 15 or 20 minutes whilst still running very comfortably. For me the key is that the first 27 miles to Rowardennan have to involve very little effort at all on the body. That doesn't mean going slower than is necessary, but just running well within what you might do if you were pushing. It's all about efficiency of course and if you can cruise to Drymen at 8 minute miles just as easily as at 9 minute miles, then take those extra 13 minutes. But only if it really is cruising.

    Hope the knee is fine - have an excellent day out on the trails.

    1. Good to chat with your briefly on Saturday Andy. I see that you were too find me at the finish, and 30 minute quicker than last year suggests you had a good race too.

      W.r.t splits, my approach to improving my time is to run each stage the same % faster, rather than trying to gain time in any one section. My performance last year was based on maintaining effort level throughout the race, so this year on the back of a good block of training I was confident that I could run all stages quicker, including the last stage.

      The spanner in the works was related to the knee injury, which didn't specifically bother me during the race but it was the general residual fatigue and lack of resilience in my quads and calves due to the ultra race two weeks before the Fling. My knee looks to been a symptom of my quads not being fully healed up, causing an asymmetry in the knee joint. Thankfully this asymmetry wasn't a problem during the Fling, my calves and quads were all equally trashed rather early in the race. Even by Drymen I knew that my legs weren't firing on all cylinders.

      My improved base fitness carried me pretty well though so all the stages up to Beinglas and was roughly the same percentage faster than last year, splits wise it all looked good for a sub 9hr. However, my legs were steadily shredding themselves and got a twinge of cramp just before Beinglas. From Beinglas onwards my guts and legs progressively became less compliant to my wish to keep the pace up and I ended up being 5 minutes slower than last year over this leg.

      I am pretty sure had I ran the first 40 miles more conservatively I wouldn't have trashed my legs so much and could have run a strong last leg, but probably still would have missed out on my 9hr target. I'm also pretty sure had my legs been fully recovered when starting the race I would have been able to maintain the effort level right to the finish and would have done a sub 10hr.

      So two big lessons to learn - to listen to my body more and pull back the pace earlier in a race when the legs aren't feeling strong and resilient, and secondly to not race so hard two weeks before a big race.

    2. When it all comes together, you'll hit sub-9 hours Robert. One of the things that makes ultras so interesting is the sheer number of variables... A.k.a. "There's so many things that could go wrong!" Having a perfect race after a cycle of perfect training is that holy grail that we all hope for, and often work so hard for.

    3. Thanks Andy. Very true about ultra's being dependent on some many factors. Sometimes it's training or training prior to a race that makes or break the perfect race, sometimes it's weather, of just a bad fuel stop, or a trip. My Fling last year went so perfectly it'll be tough to match it. I feel a bit of fraud to be saying getting a 33min PB is sub par compared to last years race, but for me a perfect race it's about running to the best of my ability. This year I know I able capable of a 9hr Fling, just screwed up on racing too hard before hand.

      It's a shame there isn't another Fling in September or October, getting a PB on a particular route in ultra's is a once a year opportunity, if you don't get things right on that one day you've just gotta be patient and wait, and how you are quick enough to enter before it fills up...