Paul’s record-breaking WHW Race

WHW Race winner Paul Giblin. Pic credit: Thomas Loehndorf

WHW Race winner Paul Giblin. Photograph: Thomas Loehndorf

Paul Giblin ran into the record books in the 2014 West Highland Way Race.

Most people take between four and seven days to walk the long-distance West Highland Way. Yet Paul Giblin ran the 95-mile West Highland Way Race in just 14 hours 20 mins and 11 seconds.

The extraordinary ultra distance runner from Paisley broke the WHW Race record and also beat his personal best time by 47 mins.

Paul’s win is an incredible feat, especially when you consider that he ran an average of just over nine-minute miles for the entire long-distance route between Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, and Fort William in the Highlands.

And this is not an easy route. There is almost 15,000ft of ascent, several big hills including Conic at Balmaha and the Devil’s Staircase in Glencoe, a lot of undulation and a slow and tricky section of trail along the east side of Loch Lomond. It’s also a long, long way from the Glasgow suburb to the Highland town.

John Kynaston, one of the WHW Race organisers, says: “Running nine-minute miles over a 10k race would see you finishing well under the hour mark. Many people would love to be able to achieve that let alone running 95 miles at that pace. It’s absolutely amazing.”

The 2014 race, which took place over 35 hours from 1am on Saturday June 21, is the 29th in its history. This year 193 runners started and 157 finished.

The top 16 runners came home in less than 19 hours, while 74 people broke the 24-hour mark. The last runner across the finish line took 34 hours, 19 minutes and 50 seconds.

First female was Fionna Ross, of Edinburgh, in a personal best time of 18.45.04. She was the 15th runner home.

John says: “This race has gone from strength to strength and is now a sell-out. This year it was the depth of ability that was so striking. To have so many runners achieve these amazing times is incredible.

“Paul’s fantastic record-breaking time has taken us all by surprise but it is down to his dedication and focus on training. When he was given his prize at the final awards ceremony there was a standing ovation. Everyone knows how hard he must have worked to have run such a great time.”

What it takes to win the WHW race

The 2014 race was Paul’s fourth time on the course. This year’s time was more than 17 minutes ahead of runner-up Robbie Britton.

Paul, 36, had been aiming to beat the 15-hour mark. He says: “I thought I could go faster than last year’s 15.07 but I can’t quite believe I did it in under 14.30. The conditions were good, dry and not too hot, but the fact that I ran so fast is still sinking in.”

Paul credits second-placed Robbie with helping him to achieve his record-breaking time. He says: “I knew Robbie was strong and at times he was ahead of me or just behind so I had to keep going for it. I had a great race and I have felt stronger in my training than ever before so I am delighted with how it has turned out.”

Paul shows breathtaking dedication to his sport. He runs between six and 12 miles every morning before work and again after work. He runs long-distance every Saturday and Sunday.

Jokingly, he says: “I don’t have much of a life. I just run.”

Paul, who works as part of the Glasgow 2014 digital media team, added: “I get up at 4.20am every day to run and then I run again after I finish work. The weekends are mostly just more running. I run between 100 and 130 miles each week.

“I am lucky because I have friends who also run long distances so they understand me but I don’t do much apart from work and running. I sacrifice a social life for my sport. It’s what I like to do and so I don’t really mind.”

Amazingly, Paul reports that his legs were “only tired, but not exhausted” after the race. He says: “I actually fell during the race when coming down Conic Hill at about two in the morning. I have a big cut on my knee. But apart from that my legs feel OK.”

WHW Race female winner Fionna Ross. Photograph: Thomas Loehndorf

WHW Race female winner Fionna Ross. Photograph: Thomas Loehndorf

Fionna is the top female

Winning female Fionna, 34, was taking part in the WHW race for only her second time. She was almost three hours faster than her debut in 2012.
Fionna, an investment analyst, says: “It is a very tough race and I had a lot of stomach issues throughout the race. I was sick at Rowardennan and again at Kingshouse. I even walked for a few miles because I felt so bad. Even though I felt so awful I still achieved a much better time than I imagined I would. I had 18 hours 30 minutes in my mind as a goal but I thought that was really ambitious. As it turns out I wasn’t far off that.”

Fionna credits her support team, experienced fellow ultra runners Sharon Law and Debbie Martin-Consani, for her win. She says: “They know all about ultra running and so they were the perfect support team for me. Even when I felt so awful and didn’t think I could keep going they encouraged me onwards. They told me it would hurt and that I should be hurting but that I must suck it up and go onwards. They were right.”

Second placed Rosie Bell finished in 19.02.19. Fionna says: “Rosie is a great runner and I knew she would be very strong in the last section of the race. I had no idea where she was but I knew I needed to keep on running to win, so I did. I couldn’t have gone any faster so I am amazed to have won.”

Starter runners. Photograph: Graeme Hewitson /

Starter runners. Photograph: Graeme Hewitson /

More WHW Race runners

Ashok Daniel, from Nottingham, is 23. He was the youngest runner to finish the race this year. He says: “The enormity of the challenge hasn’t sunk in yet and it feels like a dream having run through two nights. It was a privilege to get my hands on that finisher’s goblet and to be a part of this truly special race.”

Carol Martin took part in the race for the third time. The 45-year-old mum-of-three is from Bearsden, close to the start of the event.

She says: “I am delighted to have achieved a sub 24-hour race this year and to knock two and a half hours off my PB. I put this down to lots of hill training, greater experience of the race and the good conditions on the day. It was dry underfoot and it didn’t rain, like it has in previous years.

“I love this event – apart from the lochside midges – and running is what keeps me sane. I really enjoy long-distance events.”

See  West Highland Way Race

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