5h 42min 59s Mallaig to Fort William Road to the Isles FKT.
Road to the Isles Ultra is a Point to Point route on the road connecting a busy port village Mallaig on the West Coast of Scotland with Fort William sitting under the shadow of Ben Nevis via the A830 road.
68km, 780m of elevation on the road.
Route starts at the wodden ‘Lost at Sea’ statue near the CalMac Ferry office in Mallaig and finishes at the end of High Street in Fort William at the brass statue of the ‘Man with Sore Feet’ which is also the End of the West Highland Way route.
You will be going through villages Arisaig, Lochailort and Glenfinnan with the Famous Glenfinnan Viaduct that featured in the Harry Potter movies.
95% of the climbing happens from Mallaig to Glenfinnan.
Start in a port village Mallaig, next to see islands Rum and Eigg from Mallaig, spot the trio of Corbetts above Lochailort, run along the shores of Loch nan Uamh near the cairn of Bonnie Prince Charles, run the length of Loch Eilt with dramatic views of the local hills, spot the Glenfinnan Viaduct and maybe the Harry potter train going all the way from Fort William to Mallaig and back, run the length of Loch Eil, cross the Neptunes Staircase which starts/finishes the Caledonian canal going to Inverness up North, Cross the railway bridge next to Old Inverlochy Castle, run next to the Old Fort which was destroyed by the Jacobites to sprint finish on the High Street at the Old Man with Sore Feet.
How did it go?
Rain and wind 70% of the way… Stags and deer everywhere. Ferguson lorries flashing lights when they passed Maybe total of 40 cars that went pass. Super quiet which I am really thankful for.. made a huge difference.
Started at 3:00am to avoid traffic. Running on the road through the dark is not technical, just to keep going and keeping an eye on any potential vehicles on the road.
90% of the route is on the road so all the precautions were made with light on my bag, reflective vest and a headtorch which was on as long as I was on the road.
A830 is not that busy winter time but it’s much easier to run without the need to jump on the verge.
First part was the hardest all the way to Lochailort as the weather was demanding. The sudden gusts of wind were randomly slowing me down combined with heavy downpours. Thankfully the weather improved after Lochailort and running from here to Glenfinnan was just pure pleasure. Only thing I had to keep my eye out was the deer standing on the side of the road watching me and hoping they will not come out in front of me. In Glenfinnan I knew I have done 90% of the climbing which felt amazing.
From Glenfinnan to Fort William I kept a steady pace. It got brighter and I got few glimpses of blue sky.
Last 20km I had to push a bit more as I was starting to slow down. Once I got a good rhythm I just kept it as long as I had to until I had to take another gel.
At Corpach Co-Op I felt great because previously I stopped there and had to call a taxi. I pushed through down to the Neptunes Staircase, crossed the canal and along the shores of Loch Linnhe through Caol and to Fort William.
This was a huge thing to get out of my comfort zone and run all the way on the road. I usually run trails and hills. I am super happy it worked out. Once I got to Glenfinnan I knew I will have a good time but it started to hurt then.
I had to grit my teeth and push it through for the last 20km. It was so, so worth it!
Big thing was to get pass the Co-Op in Corpach where in 2017 I abandoned my first attempt finishing in 6h59min 5km short.
Once on the railway bridge near the Old Inverlochy Castle I checked my watch and got a shock seeing the time. I pushed on even harder from there.
It felt amazing storming on the straights to the finish.
The High Street was dead silent. 3 people walked pass while I stormed to the finish… and I don’t remember being so happy seeing a statue.
Possibly. 2h PB since my 2017 attempt, shocked!
05:43:00 Completed with an amazing pace of 05:01min/km
Super proud of myself of keeping this pace all the way to the finish.
I walked into Weatherspoons, sat down near a warm heater, dried my stuff and got some good food.
Did all my plans come together?
1. 5:00 min/km
2. Starting at 3:00am to avoid traffic
3. Mountain Fuel Sports Nutrition] gels and raw energy powder worked well.
4. Transition from hill running to ultra distance
5. Training spot on
1. Winter running in the dark is hard. But good mental training.
2. My @petzl_official Tikka RXP, 9 yo head torch needs an upgrade. Battery lasted all the way but the rubber band kept loosening and the torch kept sliding on my face.. had to stop 3 times to adjust the strap.
3. Chafing in 3 places
I was looking at my splits from yesterday’s 68k to Fort William. The plan of going 5:00 min/km came to life and it felt very comfortable at the same time. I had to push the last 20km to keep it up due to issues with head torch.
All the other gear I used worked spot on and I didn’t have any issues with it.
This was my 3/4 routes planned and completed for this year. With a Fastest Known Time, unsupported.
Still one to go!