West Highland Way CHALLENGE Race
96 Miles - Tough & Rugged
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google:  run100s   This is Stan Jensen's web site which is a link site to the 100 milers in the states. Having done Wasatch Front in Utah and Hardrock in Colorado twice, I can thoroughly recommend both these races. The difficulty now is getting into certain races, as many are over-subscribed, with some there is only a 5% chance of getting through the lottery.

google:  UTMB  (5 races in series) a good chance to see the Alps. Also check out the UTMB series 'list of qualifying races' that allocate UTMB series points. This list identifies many ultra trail races throughout the world. This is another good site for finding out what ultra's are on in the UK and throughout the world. (see below for further information)

google: GRAND RAID DES PYRENEES (5 races in series) a good chance to see the Pyrenees and pick the course that suits you.


The 'Haworth Hobble' or also known as 'Wuthering Hike' in Yorkshire usually held in March , approximately 6,000' ascent and 32 miles. Food & drinks provided during race and meal at the end. Excellent scenery and value for money at £13. This race provides an early opportunity in the year to gain hours on your feet. 

The 'Allendale Challenge' usually held in early April, in Northern Pennines between Carlisle and Newcastle, 3,300 feet ascent, 26miles, in aid of Tyne & Wear Mountain Rescue. Food and drinks provided during race and meal at end. The route is a mixture of rough peaty ground and paths. Entry Fee £25.

The 'Fellsman' in the Pennines in Yorkshire usually held in the end of April and run by the Scouting Association, 61 miles and 11,000' ascent. This race has been held over 56 times and is one of the longest established ultra races held in the UK.  It is a very well organised race with food and drink being provided during race and a meal & shower at the end. Race entry fee £40. Basically the route is over the mountains and moors from Ingleton to Grassington with a coach to take you to the start from Grassington.

Note: these 3 races are excellent training for gradually building the 'hours on your feet' needed for to complete the WHW Challenge Race, as the time between them give sufficient for recovery. Contact Jim Drummond on 01786 841715 for more information, as he has completed the three races many times.


Most steady walkers manage at least 3.2 m.p.h., which over 30 hours walking, will cover 96miles and completes the race. That leaves 5 hours, or 300 minutes for stopping time. This 300 minutes allows 40 minutes rest at each of the 7 Check Points and 5 minutes at each of the 4 Water Points.


Torch batteries in ultra's.
In many of the ultra's you can be running for up to 10 hours each night in darkness. The last thing you want to be doing is changing batteries every 2 hours. To combat this 'lithium' batteries are the better solution, as they last 4 times longer than alkeline and are nearly half the weight of alkeline batteries. Packs of 4, 'AA' or 'AAA' can be can be purchased from many main stores or the internet. If the batteries are carried on the head element of the torch then the extra lightness makes the headtoch more comfortable. There is nothing worse than stopping and changing batteries constantly especially if running in a group. Also, lithium batteries are not susceptible to the cold like alkaline batteries.

Head torch types
In many races it is helpfull to have a headtorch capable of having both a 'diffuse beam' for normal running and a 'long reach' beam for picking up route markers, or ground features, etc.  Many competitors in races have only a diffuse beam which is alright for running/walking, but they cannot pick up the next route marker especially in open ground where the marker can be over 100metres away. A great deal of time is wasted by the competitor in trying to find the route and also many loose the route and waste even more time. There is nothing worse in failing to complete a race or being timed out, due to poor lighting equipment.

Hand Torches 
In races especially over rough ground, which involving many hours of darkness, it is beneficial to carry a small light weight torch in the hand (of the 3 AAA battery type ) to see just in front of the foot fall as it saves having to move the head beam to see the footfall area. There is the extra advantages when changing the batteries in the head torch of having a light to do so, also if your head torch stops working you have a back-up.

On one occassion I gave my spare hand torch to a fellow competitor who only a head torch, which broke when he managed to loose the battery housing cover, in a peat bog. By having a spare torch and giving it to him, he was able finish the race. It also helped the rest of us, as we were in a 'compulsory group' and with no torch the competitor would have slowed the group down. It is hard loosing out on finishing a race due to scrimping in not carrying a few extra grams of spare torch weight.

When to Carry Torches
In the WHW Challenge Race it gets light at approximately 4:00am (depending on cloud cover) thereafter its daylight to approximately 10:00pm. The race allows competitors to put their torches in their Rowardennan 'Drop Bag,' as they don't need to carry the torch during daylight.  BUT 'REMEMBER' IF YOU DO THIS, PUT ANOTHER TORCH/S IN THE BRIDGE OF ORCHY 'DROP BAG,' or in the 'EMERGENCY RUCKSACK' for the second night.  Personally I would recommend also having a spare torch and batteries in the Kinlochleven 'Drop Bag' in case there is trouble with a torch, or batteries. If it is not needed then leave the torch in the Kinlochleven Drop Bag. Also, ditch 'used' batteries into the 'drop bags' as there is no point in carrying them.

Walking Poles
The WHW Challenge Race allows the use of walking poles in the race (although most races in Scotland do 'not' allow poles, due to a 'Scottish Athletics' rule). Normally poles are not required by competitors until later in the race and usually only then, if they have an injury. If you think you may require poles at a later stage in the race, then you can put a set of 3 or 4 section poles (for fitting 'in' the drop bag) in the drop bags of Bridge of Orchy, or Kinlochleven and they are there if you need them, and if not leave them in the bag.


Sleeping Bags 
The WHW Challenge Race has had many enquiries regarding whether lightweight down bags of 500 or 600 gram weight can be used, as these bags have the same thermal efficiency as an 800 gram hollow fibre bag. The vast majority of the times a sleeping bag has to be used in an emergency is when there is sleet, rain, or snow and the persons clothes are invariably soaking wet. 
A hollow fibre bag is 85% efficient when wet and a down bag is 10% efficient when wet and is a waste of time. Even when a down bag is used in a tent over several nights the down bag gathers body moisture and the thermal rating of the bag falls dramatically. You don't want to learn this lesson the hard way, when your life depends on it.

Regarding the 800 gram sleeping bag 'rule' in the WHW Challenge Race. It is 'ALSO' there to ensure a 'level playing field' for all the entrants and that everyone carries the same weight.  Entrants should remember especially if they are a sub 24 hour person, that we have many competitors at the rear of the field who are 2,000 ft up the mountains on their second night without sleep and if they are immobilised, then the emergency bag and sleeping bag could be the difference between life and death for them.  Anyone can twist an ankle, or knee, or it may even be someone else who you have to wait with who has taken a bad turn. The two items weigh less than 2.5 lbs and are well worth taking on training runs, as they give the confidence that you can survive for several days if things go pear-shaped.

ITEMS TO 'CONSIDER ONLY' CARRYING IN RACES  (the items below are dependent on the race you are in to either carry, or put these in 'drop bags' in ultras)
  • Most important item is one or two packets of tissues in a pastic bag for the Loo. 
  • Strip of Paracetamol, NOT Ibuprofen, as latest medical advice advises against the use of this in races.
  • Strip of fabric Elastoplast and small light weight scissors for dealing with bursting blisters, cuts, chaffing, etc and the scissors for cutting the elastoplast to the required lengths and for ragged nails.
  • Note: if using elastoplast then it is better to put it on 6 to 12 hours before the race, as it stays on longer when wet.
  • Small tin(20grams) or small tub of Vasciline for to prevent, or deal with chaffing.
  • Strip of Hayfever, or Allergy tablets.
  • Sachet, or very small bottle of sun block (dependant on the weather for the race).
  • Fine meshed head net as a 'midgie net,' or for dealing with 'flys', if applicable to the race.
  • Small bar if soap (hotel size, or part cut from a normal soap bar) for washing the salt from your eyes.
  • 15 ml tube of toothpaste (dentist 'sample' size) for refreshing the mouth after all the sugary drinks, sweets biscuits, etc consumed in a race. Plus a toothbrush cut in half for space and weight. Also squirting some toothpaste into the bank £1 coin packet gives sufficient for 1 or 2 cleans and is very lightweight.
  • In some countries mosquito repellent is also a must for covering the exposed skin area's.
  • Salt - preferably crisps, or salt tablets, or a small container of salt. The salt initially combats the 'cramps' in the early stage of the ultra and then later on it helps retain the bodies salt level.
Note: Regarding the 'crisps' the bags can be cut in the top right corner (a 1 or 2 millimetre cut only) and the air can then be slowly squashed from the bag, without bursting it. Then shake the crisps to the bottom of the bag and fold the top of the bag over the bottom section, halfing its size. Then put an elastic band round 4 to 6 bags to keep them together, as they then do not take up much room.  Because the potato is fried in high energy cooking oil the crisps are also an excellent food for ultras, as they have the nutrients needed, in oil, potatoes and salt (460 kcal per 100g/4x25 gram packets). Pure salt tends to leave a strong taste in a persons mouth, so better taken it on a piece of fruit, etc.

The following information highlights the popularity and over subscription of the races within the UTMB Series. The entrant % figures below from the 2018 entries, highlight how difficult it is to get into these races at the first attempt:

                % entered    Points Required 
UTMB            219%            15 points   
CCC              184%              8 points
TDS              127%              8 points
OCC              345%              6 points  (the organisers have added 2 additional points to the OCC due to the high number of entries)

In addition the criteria for awarding 'Qualification Points' in 2019 UTMB Series Races has changed to include the 'winners time' and the 'distance and ascent bar' used to calculate qualifying points in races has been raised. It is advisable when planning future races in 2019 not to take for granted they will have the same points as the 2018 race.

The UTMB and International Trail Running Association (ITRA) organisations, are regularly updating their race qualification requirements. It is therefore advisable for a competitor when organising a long term race shedule to regularly check both these web sites, to find out what the latest race qualifying points requirements are in case they have changed and thus to ensure you have the correct number of points required, within the correct number of races.

This can be complicated, for if you don't get into a race one year and apply for the race the following year, then some of your previous race qualifying points may not count as they may be outside the 2 year counting limit. If you are applying for the UTMB Series Races on a regular basis, it is best to attain a good level of qualifying points each year and keep your points level high.
The ultra distance sport has become so popular in the last decade that an up-to-date C.V. is required just to get into the lottery of many races.  Even then, in some races the chances of getting through the lottery and into the race is only 5-10%.  To complete a race in your 'wish list' a person has to be prepared to keep applying to get into the race for several years and at each attempt they must to have attained the race qualifications each time they apply.

Loch Lomond - beautiful, peaceful, therapeutic .... even when the low cloud, rain and drizzle arrives!