Running Events, Running4It

The Tales of a Trail Runner – Jonny Hall

Jonny Hall trail runner

My name is Jonny, and this is my playground.

I’ve always loved to run – everything from the 60 yard dash in Primary 1 to the 95-mile West Highland Way Ultramarathon this year. Every runner has a different story about how they got to where they are, here’s a wee bit about mine…

I’ve been running all my life, starting out on the track, moving onto road running and finally finding the trails. As a teen I earned some big achievements track running. I won club, district and national medals, breaking records and representing Scotland along the way. Despite my success as a young track runner, it wasn’t until my feet found the trails that I truly understood the joy and freedom that I could experience through running.

Trail running

Why Trail Running?

As a sworn pavement-pounder, I first tentatively ventured into trail running when I began training for the 2014 Highland Fling Ultramarathon, a 53-mile trail ultra along the first half of the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Tyndrum.

This foray into trail running came at exactly the right time in my running life, following a rather traumatic run in the 2013 Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultramarathon, which involved 55 miles of tarmac along the canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh, an injured IT band, a lot of bruising and a 5am trip to A&E. Trail running was (literally) a breath of fresh air!

Jonny Hall

The banks of Loch Lomond between Inversnaid and Rowardennan.

trail running

View from the trails heading south from Tyndrum. And from above the clouds at the top of Ben Lomond.

As an already enthusiastic hiker, combining my love of running with the endless trails and incredible scenery that Scotland has to offer seemed like an experience I should have discovered far sooner than I did. It was phenomenal.

Skipping over tree roots through forests, scrambling over rocks on the banks of lochs and blowing out my lungs running up some of Scotland’s iconic mountains, only to come down the other side at a speed that felt like flying.

The Triple Crown…

As soon as I’d had a taste of long-distance trail running in the Highland Fling, I was sold. Without a backwards glance, I had evolved into a trail runner. Over the following year I trained on the trails and entered and ran two more trail ultras, the Devil O’ The Highlands Footrace (43 miles) and the Jedburgh 3-Peaks Ultramarathon (38 miles).

Jonny Hall trail runner

Crossing the finish line of the Jedburgh 3 Peaks Trail Ultramarathon.

Now I needed a challenge, and through a collection of fascinating and inspirational people who make up the trail running community, I found it: The Triple Crown!

For anyone who’s thinking, ‘that sounds like something from Game of Thrones’, don’t worry, that was exactly my reaction when somebody first said the words to me. As it turned out The Triple Crown doesn’t even refer to a race. The Triple Crown is a challenge: the challenge is to complete the Highland Fling (53 miles), the West Highland Way Race (95 miles) and the Devil O’ The Highlands (43 miles) all in one calendar year.

Insane, right? Of course it is, so it was decided – that was the one for me.

Follow my Triple Crown story on the Run4It blog in the coming weeks.  First up? The Highland Fling Ultramarathon (53 miles)


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