Ben Nevis Race

AM 10 miles 4406 feet. Britain's highest mountain.
A bit flashy I know, but, leading up to the race it was the thought of the possible 10 hour plus drive up the M6 on a Friday afternoon that was putting me off. So, I had the offer of using a friends plane and my running buddie Methuselah had offered to go halves on the fuel. "Ok then. Lets fly up".
A classic. 1969 Bellanca Viking. The only one in the UK and our transport to Oban airfield.
A day at the office for me, although I'm usually getting paid to do that sort of stuff(lucky bugger), but a novelty for Methuselah.
It was 1 hour 50 minutes later we touched down on the runway in Oban. Hire car was already waiting and a short time after we drove into Fort William feeling fresh and ready for some lunch. If you have the money, which I don't, it's the only way to travel.

Next day was the race. We booked in early and so had time to wander round Fort William for a while before heading back to prepare for the race.
pre race team pose
The usual dilemmas as to which tshirt, shorts and trainers to wear. Then to the start where all 481 runners were serenaded to start line by the bagpipers.
Started with a circuit of the playing field to wave at the spectators then onto the road for a short section. A path takes you around a hill and slowly uphill towards the foot of the Ben.
The climbing then continues up the Ben to the halfway up point and the first cut off, which we made by a good ten minutes. Then, when the tourist path starts to zig zag up the mountain, we cut off left and went the direct route to the top. This is a real slog but you've just got to get your head down and get on with it. A while into this climb is when the front runners start coming down past us. Incredible athletes these people are.
Towards the top it levels out a bit so you can start running again to the summit. Hand your tag in, turn round and head back. The only difference going back is that, at the halfway point
everyone takes a short cut down a ridiculously steep grassy bank to get back onto the path. At this stage my quads just started collapsing underneath me and I spent almost as much time on my back side as on my legs.
If I do the race again I may consider going back via the path. Although further and maybe longer in time at least I would still have some thing left in may legs for the remainder of the race.
With wobbly legs we continue down the path, which is still quite steep, towards the road and the final slog back towards the field and the finish line.
After 10 minutes getting my breath we go in search of recovery food . Which I find in a tent in the form of cake, lots of cake ;-)
And beer !
Then a soak in the river. Bracing !

before going back to the B&B to get changed then go out in search for more "recovery" food.
"juzt one more for the road. Hicup"
I only really wanted to do the Ben Nevis race to tick a box and say that I'd done it. And, the route is nothing special, but, the race itself had something, I can't explain, that makes me want to go back again next year.
Anyone fancy chipping in for some aviation fuel ?


  1. 4 days later, the stairs are still a challenge. Oh, that grassy section.

  2. I thought you would be more of a Learjet kind of guy;).
    Sounds like a brilliant weekend. Makes my trot in the Peaks sound very hum drum.

  3. Nice one John - I'm impressed, but next year can't you land the plane on top - it'd save a lot of effort. That descent is brutal on a training run let alone at race pace - it's a good job the gradient lets up below the Red Burn crossing.

  4. Brilliant, well done! You must win the prize for the most interesting way of travelling to the race. Can I book a seat for next year?

  5. Now that's a race report! Well done - the descent is supposed to me murderous on the legs. A great idea to fly up there as well - blue sky thinking indeed