West Highland Way 'Challenge' Race- Race Date 27&28 May 2023 - Race OPEN
West Highland Way & Ben Nevis Race- Race Date 27&28 May 2023 - RACE OPEN
LATEST UPDATE 28/06/22
The first entries are in already for the 2023 WHW CHALLENGE Race and for the WHW & Ben Nevis Race.
We decided to open the entries early on the 18th June, to avoid having a lottery, 'its first come, first in' and please, 'no whimping' if you leave it too late.
Early entries allow people to start gearing up this Summer, knowing they have a 'fixed place' in next years race and if you withdraw you get an 80% refund.
THE SPLIT TIME RESULTS are now posted in the 'Results and Entries' page, for the three races held in 2022.
Provisionally, it has been decided not to hold the 'Highland 180 Mile Race' in 2023, unless we receive sufficient requests for it to be held. For some strange reason not many people want to do a 'non stop' 180 mile 'point to point' race, we can't imagine why.
Chris Sutherland, has taken some excellent photographs of the 2022 race and many of the competitors. Race number 180 is Ian Harrison, who came in First Place in the Highland 180 mile Race. The photos can be viewed by 'clicking the link' below:
Ross MacKay, one of the 2022 competitor's has posted a 25 minute video of the race on youtube. Ross has captured some lovely shots of the terrain the WHW goes through, please 'click the below' link to view this amazing video.
95 mile West Highland Way Challenge Race 2022
BRIEF SUMMARY of the three 2022 races:
WHW Challenge Race: 99 started, 64 finished ( 64% finished )
The weather was dry all weekend, sunny and hot on Saturday afternoon, but cold at night, with a cold wind making it quite chilly and then sunny and warm on the Sunday.
First was Angus Irvine from Northern Ireland in 17hr 49min.
Second was Euan Fitzpatrick from Scotland in 19hr 39min.
Third was Alan Risk from Scotland in 19hr 40min.
First Lady was Rebecca Beale from Scotland in 21hr 33min.
Second Lady was Hannah McMahon from Scotland in 28hr 20min.
Third Lady was Tara Taylor from Kent in 28hr 25min.
WHW & Ben Nevis Race: 4 started: NONE FINISHED
(It's a 'hard' race, only 2 out of 11 starters finished last year, in under the 35 hours)
Highland Way 180 mile Race: 4 started, 4 finished. (an non stop, point to point race covering both the East and West Highland Ways.) This race is being suspended for 2023, due to small number of entrants wishing to participate.
First Ian Harrison Scotland in 47hr 24min (a new course record)
Second equal Grzegorz Korsak Poland in 54hr 38min
Second equal Peter Murry Scotland in 54hr 38min
Forth Georg Kirsch Germany in 54hr 59min
Note: Ian's average speed was 3.8 mph for the 180 miles.
WHW 'CHALLENGE' RACE : ENTRIES OPEN [ Entry Fee £120 ] ( UTMB points)
The race provides support at 7 locations, of food and drink, and 2 bag moves and repatriation to to Milngavie, for anyone pulling out at the 7 Check Points. Those traversing the WHW are doing so under their own 'volition,' and who want the camaraderie, Check Point support, repatriation assurance, bag moves, the finish goblet, and especially most of all the 'challenge' of achievment. The race organisation does not provide support between Check Points, unless requiring a pick-up at a public road.
The coach leaves Milngavie at 06:45hr on the Saturday morning arriving at Fort William at approximately 09:00hr. The start will be at Fort William, at 10:00hr on Saturday 27th May 2023, with the finish, at Milngavie on Sunday at 21:00hr, or before depending on the competitor's race speed. There will be 2 'Drop Bag' locations at the Check Points at Bridge of Orchy and Rowardennan and the 'Finish Bag' for Milngavie. The race will provide food and drink at each of the 7 Check Points and the '2 drop bags' will be returned to the finish at Milngavie.
The route is the same whatever direction you go, but the advantages of a morning start and going South are that the mountainous section from Fort William to Bridge of Orchy is completed in daylight at the start of the race and the competitors are back at their cars, the train station, or near Glasgow Airport on the Sunday and not stuck in Fort William for 24 hours waiting for the coach and the last competitor to finish, or imposing on someone to come to Fort William to collect them. Also, of the 35% competitor's who pull out, then they don't have to go up to Fort William for to collect their 'drop bags', 'emergency bag' and 'finish bag,' only then, to go all the way back down the road they have just come up.
Further, the morning start means the 35 hour race is more enjoyable to view the mountain scenery and is 'safer', as the race is carried out in two daylight periods and only one darkness period of 4 hours, instead of the normal 2 night periods, which occurs when the race commences with a night start. For those thinking it will be easier going down the way, 'SORRY' the Southerly race direction is 'slightly harder', as there is an extra 40 metres of ascent, due to Fort William being 10m above sea level and Milngavie being 50m above sea level, although you know you have the satisfaction of doing the route the harder direction. On the plus side, the Southerly direction means the mountain section is completed at the beginning of the race, thus allowing for a better chance of finishing the race. (95 miles/14,700ft ascent/ UTMB points). For those worried about navigation the way is route marked and in addition over 120 reflectors have been placed at junctions to assist with navigation.
WHW & BEN NEVIS RACE: ENTRIES OPEN [Entry Fee £130] ( UTMB points)
IF INTERESTED IN ENTERING CONTACT JIM on 01786 841715, or e-mail him
This race is open to ALL ENTRANTS who have completed the West Highland Way, or an equivalent race, in under 30 hours.
There is no race coach available from Milngavie to Fort William, as the race will commence in Fort William, at the NEW start time of 06:00am on Saturday 27 May 2023. The Ben Nevis competitors will Start at the WHW sign at the junction of the A82(T) and Ben Nevis Road and head off along the WHW to the Ben Nevis Visitors Centre. Where they cross the River Nevis and head up to the summit of Ben Nevis (1,344m/ 4,412ft ) and then return to the Ben Nevis Centre having covered 11 miles and then continue down the WHW with the Challenge Race competitors. A drop Bag can be left for the Ben Nevis Centre, Check Point. The Ben section, usually takes between 3 to 5 hours allowing the competitors to return at roughly the same time as the WHW Challenge Race starts at 10:00am. The Ben competitors will then preceed, or follow the WHW 'Challenge' Race competitors down the WHW route, without stopping.
The advantages of completing Ben Nevis at the start of the race, is that the Ben is done in daylight, when the legs are fresh and the WHW mountainous section to Kingshouse is also done in daylight, thus the scenery can be appreciated. Competitors should reach Bridge of Orchy before dark. The winning time in the 2021 race was 28 hrs 9 min. with a race cut-off at 35 hours. (106 miles/ 19,100ft ascent)
Those traversing the Ben Nevis and WHW, are doing so under thie own 'volition' and again the race organisation does not provide any support between Check Points.
Competitor's in this race will be credited with the 'UTMB points' for completing the WHW & Ben Nevis Race. ( In the 2021 race: 11 started, 6 finished and only 2 managed in under 35 hours and in the 2022 race, 4 started and none finished. 'BE WARNED' THIS IS A 'HARD RACE' for 'hard core' ultra runners.)
THE RACE SERIES DEPENDS ON OBTAINING THE 'MARSHALS' TO ASSIST IN THE RACES. Therefore we would ask, if you are not competing in the above races, then please consider marshalling to help out, or if you can persuade a friend to marshal, this would also be appreciated.
If interested in marshalling in the races, then please phone Jim on 01786 841715.
THOSE WHO 'MARSHAL' receive attendance 'FUEL MONEY,' also if they marshal for the full race they receive a 'FREE RACE ENTRY' for the following year's race.
The '2021 Race Account' by Louise Harrison is now available on the Race Report page.
Posted on the ' Race Report ' page are the accounts of the race experiences from four diverse 2020 competitors. Their stories makes very interesting and worthwhile reading on what the competitor gained from the race.
The 2020 race accounts are by Louise Harrison; Christine Bell; Martin Heggie and Rodger Greenaway, are posted on the 'Race Report' page. The competitors range from the inexperienced to the experienced and from young to mature. Also for those who have not read Mike Mattison's 2019 race account, it also makes for an interesting read and his novel approach to completing the race.
CONFIRMATION OF ACCEPTANCE INTO THE RACE will be done by adding the entrant's name to the race 'ENTRY LIST' on the web site. PLEASE CHECK THE 'ENTRY LIST' TO SEE IF YOUR NAME HAS BEEN ADDED. The entrant's name may appear at any point on the Entry List as entrants may withdraw, or transfer to one of the other races. Payment must be made within 3 days of the entrants name appearing on the web site, 'ENTRY LIST,' or the entrants name will be removed from the list.
If interested in either the WHW Challenge Race, or the WHW & Ben Nevis Race, then please use the 2023 WHW 'Challenge' Race, Entry Form and mark the form accordingly.
The 'Entry Fee' for the WHW 'Challenge' Race: The ENTRIES are now OPEN.
The 'Entry Fee' for the WHW & Ben Nevis Race: The ENTRIES are now OPEN.
"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
A big welcome from the Race Committee and our 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 95 mile point to point race taking in some of Scotland's finest outdoor scenery. The race is an annual event and usually takes place in the last week-end in May. The race follows the West Highland Way long distance trail. The ultimate goal/aim is from starting in Fort William to crossing the finish line in Milngavie within the time limit of 35 hours. Time allowed to complete the race may be extended beyond 35 hours if tough weather conditions prevail.
Our event also offers an extra optional challenge! that if you finish the West Highland Way in under 30 hours you can in the future compete in the WHW & Ben Nevis Race Please note the additional Ben Nevis challenge is a serious one. Winter conditions high on the mountain are common in May and this proved so in the 2021 race. 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. Only 7 people have completed this race.
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 along 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 95 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 cover the 27 miles from Milngavie to 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 times e.g. for Rowardennan to Milngavie (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 Milngavie 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!
Read Alasdair Meldrum's new Blog on the WHW & Ben Nevis 2021 Race here.
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 supply food and drinks to the competitors at 7 Check Points along the 95 mile route. The competitors provide additionally clothing and their own food in their 2 race 'drop bags' that are moved by the race to the race Check Points at Bridge of Orchy (35 miles)and Rowardennan (68 miles) and a 'Finish Bag' for Milngavie 95 miles. The 2 'Drop Bags' can be used by the competitor for personal food requirements, drinks, clothing, shoes, etc. After the Check Point closes the competitors 'Drop Bags' will be transported to the finish at Milngavie.
In addition an 'Emergency Rucksack must be provided to the race at Registration by the competitor containing an 800 gram sleeping bag and a orange plastic 'survival bag'. This 'Emergency Rucksack' will be tranported to Bridge of Orchy, Check Point (CP3) and carried by the competitor to the Rowardennan Check Point (CP 6), incase of an incapacity during the race, or to keep the competitor warm, or if they pull out at a Check Point during the night.
IN THE EVENT OF A COMPETITOR WITHDRAWING FROM THE RACE, THEY WILL BE TRANSPORTED TO MILNGAVIE. 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 Milngavie is ready to depart. Don't worry in the main, dependent on the time of day there are hotels, or camp site facilities at most Check Points, also great banter and conversation are available at all Check Points. In long distance trail running events in case of emergences it is always advisable to carry plenty of cash as some places don't take cards. In summary, show us your patience and understanding and we will do all we can to support you and get you to Milngavie 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 the necessary support a competitors needs. 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 hundreds of additional support vehicles and people travelling up and down the road network along and around the course, especially in these COVID times. This would happen if we asked each competitor to provide their own support team. Remember if a competitor is taking 35 hours for the race, then a 'support driver' is awake more than 35 hours, which is highly dangerous to themselves and other road users.
Even with the best planning and consideration taken, simply having 200+ 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 Way 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 and the dangers they can cause through sleep deprivation. 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 200+ 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) 50 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 race provides 2 bag transfers and a 'finish bag', commercial companies charge £45 for each transfer, therefore the race saves competitors £135.
2. A competitor withdrawing fom the WHW does not require to worry on how to get back to Milngavie, as pubic transport is limited and most instances requires to be booked in advance so might not be available for some time, nor does the competitor's have to pay the additional costs on how to get back to Milngavie.
3. Food and fluids are provided by the race therfore competitors don't have to go into shops and hotels to buy food, water and drinks.
4. In this race the competitor saves on not having to provide fuel for a support car from Milngavie to Fort William and back.
5. UK competitors who do not own a car and competitors from other countries do not have the expense of having to hire a vehicle.
6. Competitors don't have to impose on at least two other people for several days, to take part in the race and be bitten alive by 'midges' and being sleep deprived.
7. Competitors don't have to provide food, drinks and supplies for two additional support staff, during the race.
8. Meals and lodgings prior and after the race are not required for two support people.
9. 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.
10. 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 return taxi fare from Glasgow Airport to Milngavie.
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 95 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 43 minutes at each of the 7 Check Points, thus making the race achievable for 'steady walkers'. Feel free to study John Vernon's race results from the last few years. John has completed the race 18 times in the last 19 years, by steady walking. 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 that he completed our WHW & Ben Race in 2022, at the age of 71, 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.
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 drink and food provided and go home. Others are seeking out those all important qualification points for the UTMB Series.
The race also welcomes those who just want 'A CHALLENGE' and 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 Milngavie, 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 an ultra, or 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!
Contact Jim on 01786 841715 he's retired so has plenty of time to speak, also he has raced the WHW 22 times.
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 trophj of 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.
MEMBERSHIP OF 'THE WEST HIGHLAND WAY IN A DAY CLUB'
In addition competitors who complete the full WHW Challenge Race (95 miles) within 24 hours become a member of the WHW In A Day Club. Those joining this exclusive 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, Ladies only, Veteran's categories, Teams, etc.
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 engraving of the race route 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.
"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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