Ian runs West Highland Way for mountain rescue charity
Scottish runner Ian Garnett has completed the famous West Highland Way in just 27 hours to raise funds for Lomond Mountain Rescue Team.
He ran the 96-mile trail non-stop this weekend after witnessing a bid by mountain rescuers to save a walker’s life. Ian, of Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, was on a local hill last month when the man collapsed and required CPR [Cardiopulmonary resuscitation].
The 34-year-old runner said: “While the rescuers worked hard for almost an hour to try to save the man’s life on Conic Hill, I could only stand by feeling helpless.
“I was left numb and stunned by the incident and I felt very emotional when I found out he had died.
“I wanted to do something to raise money for the rescue service volunteers who are on call every day of the year.
“Conic Hill is on the West Highland Way and so I decided to run the full route as a fund raiser.”
Ian’s West Highland Way run
Ian set off from Fort William at 8am on Saturday and finished 27 hours and 38 minus later in Milngavie, close to his home.
It takes most people seven days to walk the popular trail that includes more than 13,000ft (3860m) of ascent.
He said: “I have run on sections the West Highland Way close to my home many times but this is the first time I have run the whole route.
“I’ve always wanted to try to do it in one go and it seemed like the right thing to do, especially because the place where I saw the rescue is on the trail.
“It was one of the hardest things I have done – but also amazing.”
Ian, a bank analyst, ran south from Fort William through villages such as Kinlochleven, Tyndrum, Rowardennan, Drymen and Balmaha to reach Milngavie.
The route includes the Devil’s Staircase, a steep climb in Glencoe, and Conic Hill, at Balmaha, which rises to 1184ft (361m).
He was accompanied by two running friends, Stuart Chalmers and Scott Nicol. His wife Vicky met him at different points to hand him food and water.
Ian said: “The toughest section was running along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, from Beinglas to to Rowardennan.
“It was night-time and it was so dark. We had wet feet because there was a bridge down just before Beinglas and we had to wade through a river.
“I was tired and my feet were so sore. It felt like we took forever on that section.”
Emotional revisit of Conic Hill
Heading over Conic Hill was very emotional for Ian. He said: “I passed a memorial to the man who had died and I was close to tears. I was reminded why I was doing the run in the first place.
“And then we enjoyed an amazing sun-rise as we headed off the hill. That was a highlight.”
Finally reaching Milngavie was a proud moment for Ian. He said: “It was fantastic to finally finish and to be able to stop running on sore feet.
“It is also great to think that I have been able to raise more than £2000 for the mountain rescue team.”
Thanks from Lomond MRT
David Dodson is team leader at Lomond MRT, which is one of the busiest in Scotland. The charity is run by volunteers and relies entirely on donations.
He said: “We are really grateful to Ian for running the West Highland Way as a fund-raiser for our team. We rely heavily on public goodwill and donations such as this to operate our 365-day-a-year rescue service.”
David revealed that since COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased at the start of June, the team has been “exceedingly busy”.
He said: “We have been out to 22 call outs in the last three months and that is compared to 10 call outs for the same period in 2019 and 13 in 2018.
“There is no doubt that more people have come into Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, many of whom are climbing and walking the hills for the first time.
“As a volunteer organisation, this increase in call out numbers and the additional demands placed on us due to having to adhere to Covid precautions carries with it an additional cost, therefore we are more than pleased to be the beneficiaries of fund-raising events. We wish Ian well.”
You can support Ian’s fund-raising run at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/IanGarnett1