A Burntisland runner believes he has become the first person to complete a popular walking route unsupported while breaking another record at the same time.
Neil MacNicol (44), a running coach and massage therapist, finished the West Highland Way – which runs 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William – in a time of 20 hours 33 minutes, 35 minutes quicker than what is thought to be the previous winter record.
Neil began the run in the Highland town at 8.30pm on Thursday evening and arrived in Milngavie on Friday afternoon just after 5pm.
“I was well chuffed when I finished,” he said. “There was a bad patch along Loch Lomond and from about 60 miles in I was struggling with an issue with my shin. By the time I reached the end of the loch, I was moving slower than some of the tourists.
“I was concious of the time and, trying to get under 21 hours, I got a second wind for the last six or seven miles.”
Neil was inspired to do the run after seeing the efforts of other runners.
Neil said: “I had heard about other people doing it and the seed was sown in my brain. I thought it would be something interesting to do over the winter and would help me keep my training up.”
While the route, which runs past Kinlochleven, Crianlarich and Loch Lomond, was easier than the conditions other runners faced thanks to a lack of snow, the wind and rain offered different challenges.
“It’s been a mild winter so it wasn’t as tough,” Neil said. “After Kinlochleven, up until about Crianlarich, it started raining pretty heavily and there were high winds.
“The toughest part was just the scale of the thing. You’re running along after five hours and realise that it’s going to be another six or seven until daylight. For those hours you’ve just got that little circle of light in front of you. You get tunnel vision. You can’t see anything else.”