Finlay Wild sets new Ramsay Round record
Not long after his new Tranter’s Round record, runner Finlay Wild has set a stunning new Ramsay Round record. The 35-year-old GP from Fort William completed the 58-mile (92km) classic mountain round in the Scottish Highlands in 14 hours 42 minutes 40 seconds on August 31.
He was 90 minutes faster than the previous record holder, Es Tresidder (16:12) set in July 2019. Jasmin Paris still holds the female record of 16:13.
After finishing, he said: “I’m totally delighted to take the Ramsay Round record, which I have been dreaming about for years. I think it will take a while for it to sink in.”
What is the Ramsay Round?
The Ramsay Round, also known as the Charlie Ramsay Round, is a long-distance running challenge near Fort William, Scotland. The route is a circuit of 58 miles, including 24 summits with a total climb of some 28,500ft (8686m).
It includes Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak, along with 22 other Munros. Originally, all 24 summits on the Ramsay Round were Munros, but Sgorr an Iubhair was reclassified in 1997.
The route was devised by Charlie Ramsay as an extension to an existing 24-hour walking route, and first completed by Charlie on July 9, 1978.
Finlay’s stunning Ramsay Round run
In July, Finlay beat his own record on the Tranter’s round. Last year, he also won the Ben Nevis Race for the 10th year in a row.
But he had long has his sights set on a record bid on the Ramsay Round. He ran solo and unsupported, with no food drops.
Finlay says: “The Ramsay is a classic which has only become more so in the time that I have been a hill runner.
“It’s also my local big round, in my local hills. I love Tranter’s Round for its aesthetic of linking so much fantastic high ground together and taking in many of the great summits of Lochaber, so Ramsay’s was always going to be the next step for me.
” After I supported Jasmin Paris’s Ramsay in 2016, I knew that it was a very special challenge and that I aspired to one day complete.
“It took a long time to have confidence in my abilities over such a long distance.”
Finlay has spent the past four years gradually building up to the Ramsay Round, with a series of longer sky races and also rough long races, such as the Lakeland Classics series, which he won last year.
Finlay has originally planned to consolidate some short to medium length races in 2020 and then make 2021 his Ramsay year, but with COVID-19 restrictions and the cancellation of racing, he found himself able to get in some long mountain days.
Finlay says: “I worked up through some local classics, like the Lochaber Traverse, a Mamores Round and then a new Tranter record. I wanted to get another 60km-ish fast round in, too, so I did the brilliant Mullardoch Round, which I have wanted to do for years.
“It was then that I felt ready – and after that it was a case of waiting for a weather window.”
A very fast Ramsay Round
Observers had been predicting that Finlay would do a fast Ramsay Round. Mainly this was based on his Tranter time. However Finlay reports: “People were saying I would do a Ramsay equivalent in terms of time but I knew this was pure speculation and, in fact, it was anyone’s guess as to how I would fare.
“However, I was fairly confident I wouldn’t blow up too badly over the distance, and felt I had a good system for nutrition and pacing.”
Finlay planned a 15-hour – this was faster than his 2016 Tranter splits but a bit slower than his 2020 Tranter splits. He describes his pace as “race effort”.
He says: “I decided to just run on this basis and see how it felt. Up Mullach [the first mountain], it felt fast but then I gained some time on the 15-hour schedule in the Mamores.
“By then, I was fully established in my own rhythm and I felt it was manageable. In the second half the big climbs were slightly behind the 15-hour schedule, but not too far off so generally I held it where I wanted, knowing from maybe halfway round that sub-15 hours was in reach.”
Finlay believes it has been his steady build to longer distances that has enabled him to set such a speedy record. He says: “I’ve been slowly but persistently developing towards this for at least four years. I’ve built up my racing experience and improved my running efficiency.
“I have a good knowledge now of what I can sustain over long hard runs and I know the route really well.
“Also, in more general terms, I’m interested in healthy lifestyles so have cut down refined carbs and sugars (so probably less prone to “bonking”) while trying to maximise ‘whole food’, which are real foods, in my everyday diet.
“I’ve done some strength training as well and I’ve been able to make more time in my life for running and recovery. I’ve prioritised sleep. I think everything is cumulative.”
Finlay had chosen a great weather window, too. He says: “The weather was almost perfect, with high cloud and perfect visibility. Crucially, for me, it not too hot. There was quite a strong cool wind all day, which, at times, I would have preferred to dissipate, but my jacket and gloves sorted me out and I definitely planned to make my attempt on a day that was cool rather than too hot.”
Highlights of the Ramsay Round
Finlay says: “Simply actually starting was a real high. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about an attempt and the night before I was very intimidated and keyed up. It was hard to sleep! So, it was just great to get started.
“Sunrise in the Mamores was a special time as I saw the whole route appear in front of me. I quite enjoyed the valley run to Loch Treig because I was still feeling reasonably fresh and I could contrast the ease of movement with last time I did it [this was with Es Tresidder, in the other direction, carrying their skis, boots and heavier bags on a Skimo Ramsay attempt in early March].”
Another good point in the record-breaking Ramsay Round was when Finlay got up on to Stob Choire Claurigh in the Grey Corries. He says: “This is always special as you look along the ridges to the Aonachs and the Ben beyond. It really felt like I was on the home straight.
“I knew I could go the distance and I knew I would probably break the record by a big margin.
“Coming down Ben Nevis, the final mountain, the sun was out and I felt pretty emotional.
“This was the result of spending such a great long day out in my local hills where I realised a long-term goal, adding to and building on all my other memories from these mountains over decades.”
And a few low points
Finlay described the first climb as “quite hard’. He says: “I wondered if the weight of my pack was going to be an issue. That said, I arrived at the first summit right on my 15-hour schedule, so that was a great boost.
“The only real issue in the Ramsay Round was some nausea and a low patch on the big pull up Stob a’ Choire Mheadhoin from Fersit. I had to ease off on my fuelling for a while until I settled.
“I was a bit worried about this as I knew I needed to keep eating loads. I got things under control though and it didn’t cause too many problems.”
For other runners who are interested, Finlay started with 1.7kg of food (fruit and nut mix, gels, shot blocks, bars, tailwind powder) and his race vest weighed about 3.6kg in total. He included two full soft flasks (1L) and the bare essentials of extra kit (map, compass, phone, emergency blanket, spare layer, head torch, jacket, etc).
What’s next for Finlay Wild?
He says: “For now I will continue to enjoy my memories of a special mountain day and setting the new Ramsay Round record. Certainly, I feel a new confidence for these longer runs so that opens up loads of possibilities for the future.”