Flinging In The Rain
As host to the 2019 Scottish Ultra Trail Championships, our race preview highlighted this was going to be a fierce competition. The top five raced to the line leaving those of us waiting at the finish unsure of who was going to hit the red carpet first.
John Hammond (Carnethy) threw down the gauntlet from the gun, already strides ahead through the Main Street in Milngavie. By Beech Trees he was four minutes up on second place, which became six minutes over Conic Hill. Sam Humphrey (Victoria Park Harriers) and Toby Chapman (Bournemouth AC) ran together from the early stages and the podium trio never changed for the duration of the 53 miles.
As always, some of the over-zealous runners paid the price for the fantasy ‘race to Drymen’ and fell back on the leaderboard by Balmaha. Local runners Scott Craighead, Stuart Paterson, Graham Connelly, Marco Consani and David McLure battled along the lochside for the remainder of the Scottish Championship Medals. John continued to lead at Beinglas (41 miles), with Sam and Toby in hot pursuit after closing the gap to only three minutes. Looking more sprightly than John and with some new found energy to hunt down the lead, we at race HQ feared the worst. Would they commit the cardinal sin of finishing together, holding hands?
Our panic was over by Bogle Glen when it looked like the race was on. Sam had taken the lead with only five miles to go, and with John in second and Toby in third, only a minute or so separated the top three. After leading for nearly 50 miles, how would the renewed competition in the final stage affect John? Would he resign himself to being beaten?
At 7 hrs 30 on the clock, John turned the corner and sprinted down the red carpet. He had found the physical and mental strength to out kick Sam in the final mile to take the win. A quick look over his shoulder before breaking the tape showed he knew how close his nearest rivals were. Sam finished second in 7: looking near to collapse, with Toby less than a minute behind in 7:. The closest and most exciting finish in the 14 years of holding the event. Toby was 5th here last year, so he looked delighted with an improvement on position and a PB of 25 minutes.
Scott Craighead (Carnethy) finished 4th in 7: taking Scottish silver medal and first V40. Stuart Paterson (Carnegie) completed the Scottish Championship podium with 7:. Marco Consani (Garscube Harriers) and Alastair McNay (Motherwell Athletics) took silver and bronze for the Scottish masters medals. In the women’s race, course record holder (7:52 from 2016) and Salomon athlete, Beth Pascall wasn’t just in it for the win, but was pushing the men every step of the way. Sources close to Fling HQ tell us there was widespread fear amongst the leading men over her whereabouts in the field. As always, Beth looked relaxed and in control and took the lead from gun to tape. Although in shape to break her course record, the conditions and possibly the lack of female presence in her vicinity resulted in Beth breaking the tape in 8:, securing her second win here and finishing 9th overall.
2019 Highland Fling Race Report
Nicola Duncan, Irish International trail runner and Carnethy athlete was never far behind Beth and finished 2nd again, with a seven minute PB, in 8:. A few drop outs from the women’s top five early on allowed Morgan Windram (Fife AC) to benefit from more tactical pacing and take 3rd place in 8:. Fresh from a podium position at last month’s Anglo Celtic Plate, Morgan adds another championship medal to her collection this year. 5th woman Rachel Hunt (Glasgow Triathlon Club) took the Scottish Championship bronze medal.