A round-up of the action at the Hoka Highland Fling race, which incorporated the UK trial and Scottish National Ultra Trail Championships
Some of the UK’s best ultra-distance runners toed the line of 11th Hoka Highland Fling race on Saturday (April 30), reports Debbie Martin-Consani. As host to the UK trial and Scottish National Ultra Trail Championships, the depth of talent was arguably the best that any UK ultra has ever seen.
Race favourites Joe Symonds and American Devon Yanko both dropped from the race with injury, leaving the best of the 750 plus runners battling it out for podium positions.
From the gun, a core group of Donnie Campbell, Damian Hall, Kim Collison and Robbie Britton led the 53-mile race, which starts in Milngavie and follows the West Highland Way to the finish line in Tyndrum.
Campbell from Edinburgh went on to win the race, breaking the previous course record by 11 minutes to finish in 6:51:06
This was Campbell’s 6th Hoka Highland Fling finish. His previous best was taking third in 7:17 at last year’s race. He said: “My training had gone well and my plan was to go with the pace with the lead group for as long as possible. I was feeling good and put in an effort approaching Beinlgas at 40 miles. I’m delighted it came together on the day.”
Although with vast experience in ultra-distance running, Hall was a relative outsider in the race preview rankings. He was second home in an impressive 6:54:16.
Collison, the 2014 UK ultra trail champion, joined them on the podium with 7:00:35. All three were inside the previous course record 0f 7:02 set by Lee Kemp in 2012.
The trio were followed by Britton, Eoin Lennon and Jez Bragg in respective times of 7:08, 7:27 and 7:38.
In the women’s race, Beth Pascall (pictured) smashed the previous record of 8:10 which had stood unchallenged since 2008 to finish in 7:52:55.
Sally Fawcett led the race from the start, with Pascall never too far behind. Pascall caught Fawcett around Loch Lomondside and the pair ran together for a while, before Pascall made her break and stormed through the second half.
This adds to Pascall’s repertoire of phenomenal race performances including Dragon’s Back, Lakeland 100, The Spine and Spine Challenger. She has recently been selected to represent the GB team at the European 24-Hour Championships in France later this year.
Pascall commented: “I only decided to have a go at the Fling about a month ago and came up recently to recce the course over two days. Sally certainly went off fast, but I just held back and ran my own race.”
Fawcett and Sophie Grant completed the podium with a close 8:14:16 and 8:15:04 respectively. Hot on their heels was Lizzie Wraith in 8:18:43, followed by Garscube Harriers’ athletes Nicola Adam-Hendry and Debbie Martin-Consani. The top 11 women finished in under nine hours, in times that would have won the race in previous years.
The top three men and women have now put themselves in contention for selection for the GB team for the IAU World Trail Championships in Portugal in October
Scottish National Trail Championships medals were awarded to Eoin Lennon (Carnethy), Donald McParlin (Garscube) and John Connolly, plus Nicola Adam-Henry (Garscube Harriers), Debbie Martin-Consani (Garscube Harriers/Centurion) and Morgan Windram-Geddes (Fife AC).
SAL masters: Neil MacNicol (Beacon Runners), Emilio Cosimo (Springburn Harriers), Mark Caldwell (Ayr Seaforth). Ladies masters: Debbie Martin-Consani (Garscube Harriers), Lorna McMillen and Michelle Hetherington (Helensburgh).
Full results and further information can be found at www.highlandflingrace.org.