West Highland Way Race goes virtual with friendly format
A full-on 9 day test or a friendly team challenge, the West Highland Way virtual race is set to brighten the June calendar.
The West Highland Way Race is one of Scotland's most popular events and a highly regarded ultra test. Normally a field of 250 enthusiasts will gather in June for an early Saturday morning start (1.00am) at Milngavie ahead of the 96-mile odyssey that ends in Fort William. However the 2020 renewal of the race was an early casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now organisers have created a virtual version of the West Highland Way event to coincide with the planned race weekend and extended the conditions to allow runners of all abilities to get involved.
The virtual West Highland Way Race will start at midnight on Thursday 11 June and allows participants to run or walk 95 miles (155km), over 9.5 days, either individually, as a semi competitive 3 person team relay, or as a multi team fun relay.
Entrants are encouraged to stay local while following government guidelines, on social distancing, for the period of the race. Like all virtual events, it relies on honesty from everyone, just getting out there, logging some miles as accurately as they can, and having some serious fun too.
Unlike the traditional race, organisers are actively discouraging entrants from covering 95 miles in one go. Instead you are invited to run segments of your choosing, reaching the three check point cut offs, and then uploading your details to an online platform run by SI systems.
In an imaginative play on the real event, 'virtual' checkpoints have been created at:
Inversnaid – Leg 1: Total 36 miles to be completed by midnight Mon 15 June
Victoria Bridge, by Loch Tulla – Leg 2: 27 miles to be completed by midnight Thurs 18 June
Fort William – Leg 3: 32 miles giving a total of 95 miles to be completed midday Sun 21 June
Each runner or team decides a strategy according to their own ambitions and available time. Run and enjoy long single stages or break it down in smaller (and possibly faster) stages - your own imagination is your guide. Following the simple event guidelines, just what total time could an individual or a relay team achieve for 95 miles?
In an enterprising addition to the weekend events, there will be a live podcast hosted by John Kynaston, on the evening of Saturday 20 June. John will chat with previous race winners, and characters from earlier West Highland Way races and there are plans for an online quiz. Full details at the ALTRA West Highland Way Race website.
Race director Ian Beattie said: “While we are all disappointed that this year’s actual race had to be cancelled, we hope that the virtual ‘race’ and evening entertainment will provide a bit of fun for the Altra West Highland Way Race community. It should be a nice opportunity to let everyone involved in the race come together in the week prior to the race itself and over the traditional race weekend. Many thanks to Adrian Stott, John Kynaston and Keith Hughes for all their work in pulling everything together in a short space of time.”
Image credit: West Highland Way Race