The West Highland Way 'Challenge' Race
"Amazing organisation. Amazing Experience" Runner 2019
"My most enjoyable West Highland Way Ultra to date. So good to have all necessary support provided" Runner 2019
"A really tough course. The support, fun and camaraderie amongst all involved got me to the finish (as well as my legs!)" Runner 2016
"Every element of support is provided by the race organisers. Achievable. Affordable. Inclusive. Hassle free." Runner 2018
"Few other events come close in terms of the quality, depth and frequency of support. A big thank you to all involved" Runner 2017
"Fantastic WHW Challenge Race. Truely motivational. Well organised. Race support crew are fantastic" Runner 2017
The FIRST 'EAST HIGHLAND WAY RACE' was held on 27/28 July 2019 from Fort William to Aviemore.
see our 'Results and Entries' page for the Inaugural E.H.W. Race results.
West Highland Way 'Challenge' Race
A big welcome from me Jim Drummond (Race Director) and my dedicated race support team. We aim to create an inclusive, friendly, all in it together atmosphere here at the West Highland Way Challenge Race (WHWCR).
Many thanks for taking the time to visit our event website. Please note we have included lots of information. This is deliberate. Hopefully any questions you might have will be answered over the following web pages. Plus we wish to outline all necessary details for novices, experienced ultra competitors and every type of participant in between. We welcome people from all backgrounds and the diverse blend of characters who run/walk the Challenge race, help to make it such a great event.
Also we aim to create a simple and fun, almost nostalgic, feel to our event. Similar to some of those 'less fuss, run more' race events from the past. We don't do big corporate sponsorship and fancy start and finish areas. We don't ask you to wear chip timers or GPS trackers. We don't try and sell you event merchandise. Instead, we focus all our efforts on making our WHW Challenge Race fun, fully supported, hassle free and inclusive. We take your enjoyment, safety and involvement in our race very seriously. We wish for you to have a very memorable weekend. However we don't take ourselves too seriously.
Sounds like the race atmosphere, challenge and adventure that appeals to you?
We would love to hear from you.
Jim Drummond - Race Director
Bottom of the Devil's Staircase. Time to cross that bridge, follow the path and begin climbing!
West Highland Way Challenge Race - Event Headlines
The West Highland Way Challenge Race is an ultra trail marathon. It is is a 96 mile point to point race taking in some of Scotland's finest outdoor scenery. The race is an annual event and takes place at the end of May. The race starts in Milngavie at 1 second after midnight as Saturday morning begins and follows the West Highland Way long distance trail. The ultimate goal/aim is to cross the finish line in Fort William within the time limit of 35 hours (by 11am on Sunday morning). Time allowed to complete the race may be extended beyond 35 hours if very tough weather conditions prevail.
Our event also offers an extra optional challenge! Finish the West Highland Way in under 30 hours and you give yourself the additional option to ascend and descend Ben Nevis and return to the race finish station within 35 hours. Please note the additional Ben Nevis challenge is a serious one. Winter conditions high on the mountain are common in May. It increases the race distance to 105 miles and the total ascent to 19,175 feet. Runners wishing to take on Ben Nevis will be allowed to do so weather permitting and at the race organisers discretion. Train hard. Prepare well. We welcome those competitors with the fitness and ambition to complete this extra challenge.
The 2019 race will receive 5 POINTS towards UTMB Series.
(race is the same distance as previous years however the UTMB/ITRA critera for points has changed for 2019. Please click on the ITRA and UTMB logos at the top of this page for more information).
The WHWCR is open to and encourages Runners, Joggers and Steady Walkers. Achieve a good level of fitness come race day. Prepare well. Research the route and give the challenge your best effort. The race support team aim to support you every step of the way.
West Highland Way Obelisk - Start - Milngavie
Ethos / Atmosphere / Aim of The West Highland Way Challenge Race
1. Get as many of the competitors to the finish or as far up the route as possible.
2. Make the race as competitor friendly, supportive, simple and hassle free as possible.
3. Provide value for money to the competitor.
1. GET AS MANY OF THE COMPETITORS TO THE FINISH.
To complete the 96 miles of the West Highland Way in 35 hours requires an average speed of 2.7 mph. The Check Point and the WHW Challenge Race cut-off times are calculated on this average speed.
Other endurance races apply challenging cut off times in the early stages of the race, for example requiring the competitor to reach Rowardennan in 7 hours. This forces competitors to run at a faster pace for the first few check points and be under constant stress in case they are timed out and disqualified. Whereas The West Highland Way Challenge Race's approach to the cut off time for Rowardennan (27 miles) is 10 hours in line with the average speed required of 2.7mph for completing the race course in 35 hours.
However, we know (from the great feedback you share with us) many of you would like to run/jog/walk the challenging West Highland Way at a steady average pace. You might even start out slower and build your pace gradually along the course. Your ultimate aim is still to finish the entire race within 35 hours. With this in mind, the WHW Challenge Race generous cut off times allow you to adopt this race strategy too. We wish to avoid slower runners/walkers being penalised and removed from the race in the early stages. We feel this would be very unfair, particularly if your average pace would see you complete the entire race route in the allotted 35 hour finish time. Also we fully understand and appreciate the time, energy and cost involved in making it to the start line of our event, we want you to succeed. Prepare yourself well for what is a very tough challenge and we (the race support team) give you the highest possible chance of finishing the race.
"Thanks Jim for creating a West Highland Way event with sensible/supportive check point cut off times. I arrived at Beinglas Farm after 12 hours however my average pace and determination allowed me to complete the entire route in under 35 hours. Delighted" Competitor 2016
In summary, we wish to see as many competitors as possible cross the finish line in Fort William within 35 hours. The feeling is simply amazing on so many levels when you achieve this. Our race structure and generous cut off times gives equal opportunity of a finish for fast runners, joggers and steady/slower walkers alike.
On route to Kingshouse Check Point - going strong!
2. COMPETITOR FRIENDLY
The race has a friendly, fun and supportive atmosphere. Many competitors from past races say this is one of the biggest attractions of the race. This can be seen by the number of entrants from both the UK, Europe and further afield who return year after year. Thanks again for your continued support.
To assist in making it competitor friendly, the WHW Challenge Race supplies food and drinks to the competitors at 7 Check Points along the 96 mile route. In addition to the 7 Check Points the race also provides 4 additional Water Points. Thus providing 11 support stations during the actual 96 mile race.
In addition to the fully supported Check Points and Water Points, competitors can also provide their own Drop Bags at 3 of the Check Points. Drop bags can be left at the 27, 60 and 81 mile Check Points. These drop bags can be used by the competitor for additional personal food requirements, drinks, clothing, shoes, etc. After use the competitors Drop Bags will be transported directly to the finish at Fort William. The competitor's Finish Bag is also transported from Milingavie to the finish at Fort William.
IN THE EVENT OF A COMPETITOR WITHDRAWING FROM THE RACE, THEY WILL BE TRANSPORTED TO FORT WILLIAM. Please be patient and understanding if this happens to you. We (the support team) will organise transport to the finish as quickly as possible. We normally achieve this relatively quickly. However you may be required to wait at a check point for a couple of hours (maybe more) before your lift to Fort William is ready to depart. Don't worry, food, drink, shelter, other support items and great banter and conversation are available at all check points. In summary, show us your patience and understanding and we will do all we can to support you and get you up to Fort William as soon as possible. Thanks in advance.
Important to note: A support car and at least 2 support crew per runner are not required for the WHW Challenge Race. This is because we (the race support team) provide all the necessary support competitors need. From the moment you arrive at race registration to transport drop offs back at Milngavie Train Station or Glasgow Airport post race finish, we provide it all. This is a huge benefit to so many runners who take part in our race. How do we know this? Well, nearly all the competitors say so and many of you thank us for going above and beyond to meet your needs.
Also we wish to avoid at least 150 additional support vehicles travelling up and down the road network along and around the course. This would happen if we asked each competitor to provide their own support team.
Even with the best planning and consideration taken, simply having 150+ extra vehicles on the roads, pulling in and out of check point areas will put additional and perhaps unecessary pressure on the region. We (the race organisers of the West Highland Challenge Race) wish to minimise the disruption caused by our event. We wish to avoid unecessary traffic congestion, parking issues and potential vehicle stop/start issues. We also wish to minimise any impact for local residents, at popular viewpoints and for local places of business.
The West Highland Way travels through many beautiful areas of Scottish countryside. We also wish to keep the environmental impact of support vehicles to a minimum. This is another reason the WHW Challenge Race organisers provide all necessary support rather than 150+ individual teams and vehicles. Let's all aim to keep emissions, pollution and the carbon footprint of the event to a minimum.
Plus being a support driver is hard work and not to be under estimated. You could be awake (with very little quality rest) for up to (maybe more than) 40 hours. This can increase risk and safety concerns. Even the most experienced and competent drivers can get sleep deprived.
In summary, we remove all this potential complication, worry and hassle. Let us, the race organisers provide all the support you need. We take the logistical strain for you. This allows you to fully concentrate on your running/jogging/walking and enjoy your West Highland Way experience.
Runners begin to gather before midnight in Milngavie!
3. COST SAVINGS
Our event attempts to offer good value for your race entry fee. We aim to make the event affordable to as many runners as possible. We welcome competitors from all backgrounds. We wish to keep any additional competitor costs to a minimum. For example, our race organisation approach allows you to save money on the following:
1. The competitor saves in not having to provide fuel for a support car from Milngavie to Fort William and back.
2. UK competitors who do not own a car and competitors from other countries do not have the expense of hiring a vehicle.
3. Competitors save money by not having to provide a variety of hot and cold food, drinks and other supplies for themselves and two additional support staff, during the race.
4. Meals and lodgings prior and after the race are not required for two support people.
5. Free showers, changing rooms, food, drinks and friendly banter are provided at Fort William at the end of the race. The chilli-con-carne (meat and vegetarian options) at the end of the 2018 and 2019 races tasted great. All included in your race entry fee.
6. The competitor has the option of free camping at the end of the race thus saving on lodgings.
7. Competitors from Southern England, Europe and further afield save on two flights that would normally be required for the support driver and support runner. This cost saving alone is significant.
8. Our approach to race organisation means that: Scottish based competitors entering the WHW Challenge Race can save approx £500. Runners from other parts of the UK can save over £1,000. European and International competitors can save several thousands pounds.
To help illustrate the value for money approach we take please consider this possible scenario: Once you have flown into Glasgow Airport from Europe (or another part of the UK) the only extra cost you might have for your entire race trip is a £20 taxi fare from Glasgow Airport to Milngavie (race registration/start). Everything else is provided and competitors return to Glasgow Airport by coach organised by the race organisers (please pre-book).
"Thanks Jim for providing the coach back to Glasgow airport. £15 is such good value for money for a door to door service. It allowed me to chat to other competitors about their race and get some well earned rest" Competitor 2018
72 miles already achieved! Onwards to the Devil's Staircase!
The West Highland Way Challenge Race Welcomes all Competitors including Novices, Steady Walkers and Seasoned Ultra Runners
Novices have taken part in the WHW Challenge Race and completed it. Boom! Get In! Congratulations again if this applies to you. This is partly achieved by not making over stringent entry requirements and by not making the cut-off times unachievable to steady walkers and walk/joggers. Plus our walkers/joggers are very determined individuals and often dig very deep to complete the course. Our approach helps to ensure all disciplines have a good chance of finishing the race and of course enjoy the event and experience. That said, please remember the course is tough. It is 96 miles over challenging terrain. Please train well and research the route.
A steady walking pace is 3.2 mph. Therefore during 30 hours steady walking 96 miles is covered, leaving 5 hours rest time. This gives 40 minutes at each of the 7 Check Points and 5 minutes at each of the 4 Water Points, thus making the race achievable for pure steady walkers. Feel free to study John Vernon's race results from the last few years. John has completed the race for 16 consecutive years. In recent years by steady walking he has completed the entire route. He uses the check points effectively and adopts a very successful race strategy. Please note John is fit and experienced. That said his recent results demonstrate you can walk the entire route and finish within 35 hours. John won't mind us mentioning he is 68 years old, so age is no limit.
Michael Mattison & John Vernon at Lundavra in the 2019 race. 88 miles completed only 8 to go! The weather conditions were very tough. Both competitors planned thoroughly and approched the race with smart heads. They hiked the entire route. Finish time: 34hrs 32minutes. Well done again to Mike and John!
Also in the spirit of encouraging success, even if a person is just over the 35 hour time we are not going to quibble (see results). If you are a pure walker then talk through your race approach with Jim Drummond months before race date (01786 841715). Jim will advise you accordingly. He may even allow an earlier start time to increase your 'buffer' time.
Some of the UK's most 'seasoned ultra runners' have participated in the WHW Challenge Race. The simplicity and cost savings appeal. These people compete frequently in various races and just wish to turn up by themselves, run the event with food and drink provided and go home. Others are seeking out those all important qualification points for the UTMB Series. These competitor's have the extra option to extend themselves by climbing Ben Nevis, which is great training if you are considering entering the UTMB.
The race also welcomes those who just want to see how far they can go in an ultra event and if they decide to withdraw, then they have the reassurance of being transported to the finish at Fort William, without any worries. Many a competitor achieves a new longest distance covered personal best.
Some just wish to enjoy the stunning Scottish scenery and the camaraderie provided by our event. Plus they also enjoy learning about ultra running from the Race Director and Race Support Team and of course the competitors taking part in the race. Don't worry we don't do cliques or snobbery ... lol! We won't look down on you if you haven't achieved a fast 100 mile Ultra finish. We aim to be inclusive and supportive to all. Please just come and talk with us. You never know, you could teach us something too!
An additional concern to many competitors who in other races require a 'back up' crew, is the competitor may feel the extra pressure that if they withdraw, or go slow, then they are letting the support team down as well. It is often easier on the competitor when they have no 'back up' team, then they do not have the extra strain of letting the team down. For many, not having a personalised support team can make for a better race time, as the competitor can come into a Check Point get their food and drink and head straight out again. With personalised support teams at the Check Points, there can be a tendency to sit and converse with your friends/family members who make up your team, as they have put themselves out for the competitor.
Summit of the Devil's Staircase. Looking North. Keep going!
Completion of the West Highland Way CHALLENGE Race
CRYSTAL FLUTED WINE GOBLET
All Competitors who complete the entire race will receive a boxed Glencairn Crystal cut 'Skye' fluted wine goblet. The glass is engraved with the WHW route, including the main mountains which were passed along the route.
A 'Completion Certificate' will be awarded to the competitors who finish the entire race.
MEMBERSHIP OF 'THE WHW IN A DAY CLUB'
In addition competitors who complete the full WHW Challenge Race (96 miles) on the Saturday (within 24 hours) become a member of the WHW In A Day Club. Those not already in the club will be presented with a personalised KEYRING, with their 'name inscribed' on it and on the reverse side printed 'THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY IN A DAY CLUB' confirming they are a member of this elite club.
The race presents THREE TROPHIES, to the FIRST, SECOND and THIRD finishers.
No competitor sub-group trophies are awarded in this race
e.g. Men only, Women only, Veteran only.
The reason for not having race sub-group trophies like in many other races, is the Race Committee feel everyone who completes the WHW CHALLENGE RACE (a tough ultra) has completed a great achievment. Every finisher deserves a trophy to remember the race by so ALL FINISHERS ARE AWARDED A TROPHY of a boxed Glencairn Crystal cut 'Skye' fluted wine glass. These race glasses are very expensive, especially with the race route engraved on the glass.
10 RACE COMPLETIONS DECANTER
On completion of 10 WHW Challenge Races a 'Skye' decanter will be presented to the competitor to go with their 10 'Skye' completion glasses. This really does make an impressive collection of quality crystal glassware.
Please note your certificate will be posted to you after the event. This can sometimes take a few weeks as we have lots of jobs to get through after the race weekend. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.
"Jim, I love my crystal goblet. So good to receive a high quality prize/momento of the race. Well deserved after running 96 miles over tough terrain. Thanks again for a great weekend. First class organisation" Competitor 2016
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