Long distance runners all set to have a fling

Some of the UK's best ultra-distance runners will gather in Milngavie this weekend to take part in the 11th Hoka Highland Fling Race.

Highland Fling 2015 winner Matt Laye
Highland Fling 2015 winner Matt Laye

The event follows the route of the West Highland Way, from its starting point in Milngavie - on Saturday at 6am - to the finish in Tyndrum, 53 miles away.

The route takes the runners along Scotland’s oldest official long distance footpath through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Since its humble beginnings in 2006 - when only 18 people entered – the race has grown to be one of the biggest ultra-distance events in the UK and this year over 750 runners, with an additional 200 relay runners, will take part.

Race director John Duncan said: “The distance is long enough to ensure that experience and pace judgement will shine through, but short enough to unearth some new raw talent.”

The race also attracts a large number of international athletes, keen to take on the scenic Highland course, and was won last year by American Matt Laye.

This year’s field includes representation from Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, Brazil, Hungary, South Africa, Australia and the USA.

Organisers are excited to see what American Devon Yanko can bring to the women’s race. The baker from California has competed in over 30 ultras and will be looking to challenge Lucy Colquhoun’s course record of 8:10:03, which has stood since 2010.

Garcsube Harrier Debbie Martin-Consani, GB 24-hour runner and second at last year’s Lakeland 50, will be looking to perform well on her home turf.

For the men’s race, unfortunately course record holder Lee Kemp has withdrawn with injury.

But there will still be at least 10 athletes who will be vying for that record of 7:02:50 and the UK Champion title. Another local runner, Joe Symonds, is favourite for the men’s race.

John Duncan said: “His list of achievements are endless and he has made the podium in most of the hill races he’s competed in.

“With a marathon PB of 2:20 and a recent win at the D33 in Aberdeen, he’s also got the leg speed to do some damage on the flats too.”