Oct 2020 - William McMillan - the winner of the 4th GlobalLimits Albania
Please introduce yourself (where are you from? what do you do? Your race experiences?)
My name is Will McMillan and I'm an Irish man originally from Belfast, but now living in the glorious town of Montreux, Switzerland. I have been actively running trail races, ultra-marathons etc. for the last 6 years and have been fortunate to run in some interesting places such as Peru, Madagascar, Bhutan and of course Albania. In my spare time I also work as a data analyst for a pharmaceutical company.
How did you prepare for the race in Albania?
Living just around the corner from the Alps, I was able to prepare really well for the long climbs and technical downhills, also doing some back to back 4/5 hour runs during the weekends prepared me for the 6 days of running. However, one thing that I did not expect was the heat to be so strong, especially as we descended into the valleys. I don't think it has ever been that hot in Northern Ireland and if you are not used to hot weather, heat acclimatization is important so spend some time in a sauna and get used to drinking electrolytes.
Your most special/unforgettable experience in Albania?
The scenery of Albania was special, the mountains are stunning, and it is interesting to see the beautiful ancient Roman ruins in conjunction with the Soviet style bunkers dotting the landscape. I will go back to Albania again to check out the bunkers that I missed!
In terms of the race, the most unforgettable (or forgettable) moment would be suffering near heat exhaustion on the fifth day after trying to climb the "Wall" and having to jump into some dodgy rivers and storm drains to cool down.
Also, a big shout out to the water parties at each of the check points which help to keep me cool. Thanks Ron and Ryan!
How do you compare the races in Albania and Bhutan? (difficulty, weather, campsites...)
Bhutan and Albania are very similar, but at the same time very different. Both races are composed of long climbs and downhills in the mountains and friendly people to greet you at each of the campsites. In Bhutan the real challenge is with altitude and with large parts of the race over 2,000m you start to feel the effects very quickly even on the first day. Bhutan is also cooler, with lots more vegetation on the trails (and the odd cow or two) which is a big contrast between the dry and dusty trails of Albania.
Anything else you'd like our readers to know?
Nothing more than just a big thank you to the GlobalLimits team for successfully staging the race during this difficult time, to my coach Gediminas, and my partner Satu, and the rest of the brave runners/volunteers in Albania who helped me in completing this race.