Our Racespy at scottishrunning guide.com experiences their first ever half marathon in what turned out to be a perfect day for running at Fort William.
Around 115 competitors were lucky enough to experience a crisp, competitive day of running at Eddie's half marathon in Fort William on Sunday (November 6). In a race that saw a strong showing from Dumbarton AAC and unsurprisingly, organisers Lochaber AC, David Simpson of Corstophine dominated throughout, finishing in an impressive 1:11:59.
By noon on Sunday, running conditions were ideal. A chilling winter morning had turned into a brisk but bright afternoon, with a cool easterly breeze working as an ally against fatigue. As you would expect with its location in the Scottish highlands, the route through Fort William contains some stunning views of Ben Nevis along Loch Linnhe.
Being a road race however, and the fact Eddie's is known to be a great course for setting a PB, meant the terrain was predominantly flat throughout. It is tempting to say from a post-race armchair view that a few challenging hills would have provided a little variation to the route, but this is merely retrospective postulation on what was a welcoming course for a first-time half marathon runner.
The start-line was busy yet not overcrowded, meaning the faster runners could make their intentions known without the need for spacing. By picking off a relatively spritely member of Dumbarton - thank you, unknown runner - as an initial pacer, I managed to maintain a faster than expected speed of 7:30 minute miles. Reaching the midway point by 50 minutes was an added surprise and brought me to question the accuracy of the stopwatch setting on my Casio.
The event was extremely well organised, with marshals assertive when the interruption of traffic looked like it might halt participants. Towards the end of the race, when the travails of the day had clearly got too much for one jelly-legged runner, two first-aiders were quick at hand and provided expert assistance.
The only modification this Racespy could suggest would be an increase of water stations, with replenishments only offered at two intervals along the 13.1 mile route. That said, this is clearly a course for more seasoned runners who, unlike first time half marathoners, don't rely on the prospect of hydration like a wearisome traveller across the Sahara.
The post-race awards ceremony was well attended with each winner warmly greeted by fellow runners and Fort William residents alike. In addition to David Simpson's victory, Charlene Kelly of Dumbarton AAC was first in a closely competed female field finishing in 1:30:31, with Amanda Blackhall (Lochaber AC) less than a minute behind in 1:31:19.
In all, Eddie's half marathon is a well organised event that has a genuine community feel to it with residents providing much needed support at the final stretch. The flat terrain means a PB is a strong possibility, with this Racespy finishing in a career high of just under 1:37:00. Granted, this may have been my first half marathon, but I'm already looking forward to returning to Fort William for some stunning glimpses of Ben Nevis and a quick, confidence boosting time.