Pawel runs away with new West Highland Way record

Pawel Cymbalista shared some empathy with 'Sair Feet' on his return to Fort William after his record breaking run. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

Want to read more?

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?

 

Problems logging in and require
technical support? Click here
Subscribe Now

While most people take four or five days to complete the 95-mile trek along The West Highland Way, record-breaking runner Pawel Cymbalista has completed the journey in 17 hours and 53 minutes, adding yet another new record to his list, writes Iain Ferguson.

Pawel arrived in Fort William to cheers from a welcoming home crowd.

After getting off to a bad start when his 6.03am Friday train from Mallaig to Glasgow broke down, the Mallaig-based athlete was left with no alternative but to find his own way to Glasgow.

Luckily Pawel got a lift from a friend, allowing him a brief stop off at his brother’s house, before setting off from Milngavie in the early hours of the Saturday morning.

On previous runs, such as the Great Glen and a 24-hour, seven times conquest of Ben Nevis, he has been accompanied on various stages and supported with water and food en route, but this attempt was different – and totally on his own.

The previous record for an unsupported run was around 23 hours which he beat by a considerable margin. Another record for a supported run with the individual not needing to carry food, water and navigate, still stands at 13 hours 41 minutes, not that different from Pawel, who did away with all such ‘luxuries’.

Early on in the run, his SatNav watch became corrupted and marker signs which were unclear saw him wander off the path at least four times, causing him to lose valuable time as he worked out the route. Fellow travellers on the ‘Way’ also absorbed time as he negotiated around them on narrow, rocky paths, often shouting ahead asking them if they could move to the side.

Despite the cold and rain in most of Lochaber throughout the Saturday, Pawel also had to battle the heat and humidity further south, likening some parts to running through a rainforest. Even as he arrived in Fort William he had to overtake a pick up truck in the High Street as he made his way to greet his welcome party at ‘Sair Feet’.

 

Friends and family awaited Pawel on the finish line. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

Speaking to the Lochaber Times, Pawel said: ‘Most people do it in five days, but some of us are not normal so I decided to tackle it as fast as I could.

‘Many parts of the track are really rough and rocky which is very sore on the feet. By Bridge of Orchy, I was in such pain in my legs and stomach that I was almost at the point of giving up. But then I thought of everyone who was waiting in Fort William and regained my focus.

‘The most emotional section was running from Kinlochleven to Fort William as I knew what was ahead of me and how rough the path is. My feet were in bits and every foot step was giving me pain. I only had 19kms to go in this kind of terrain. Proper character making.

‘When I spotted the Vitrified Fort, my body filled with adrenaline. I was still in pain but much less. I felt numb and but gradually started to speed up. I finished strongly sprinting on the High Street, even overtaking a Hilux.’

When asked about his next challenge he replied: ‘Getting up the stairs to have a shower.’

However it probably will not be long before Pawel finds another record to beat.

Main photograph (poss front page): Pawel Cymbalista shared some empathy with ‘Sair Feet’ on his return to Fort William after his record breaking run. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos. NO_F30_PawelCymbalista_WHWRecord 04

NO_F30_PawelCymbalista_WHWRecord 01: Friends and family awaited Pawel on the finish line. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

NO_F30_PawelCymbalista_WHWRecord 02: Pawel arrived in Fort William to cheers from a welcoming home crowd.