RUNNING LONDON TO PARIS. THE RYDER CUP RUN. DONE!

What a fantastic week!  Paul Dunstan and I took on a challenge to run over a marathon a day, and play a game of golf each day, while running London to Paris, arriving at Le National- the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup.

We accumulated 333km, and approximately 380,000 steps each, ate about 35000 calories each, and even placed second in the British Speedgolf Open pairs competititon.

Our first day, we met the founder of Golf in Society, Anthony Blackburn. The inspirational stories he shared of the difference physical activity, in this case golf , is making to so many lives made myself and Paul even more determined to complete the Ryder Cup Run.  After some golf on the Driving Range, and the West Course at Wentworth (awesome!), we ran south from European Tour headquarters. As well as highlighting the work of Golf in Society (donations are extremely welcome here https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/GolfAndMentalHealth ) we would also promote the value of exercise for health, and in particular the World Golf Foundation’s Golf and Health project which I’m helping with for my PhD www.golfandhealth.org

The first day I was a physical wreck, partly due to a lack of sleep the 2 previous nights, and perhaps also the after effects of viral meningitis I’d contracted 3 weeks prior. Running with Paul and his girlfriend Lenka, I just battled through.

Day two say the British Speedgolf Open.  Speedgolf is definitely a sport you should try if you like either running or golf. We love both, and particularly enjoyed Paul’s shot to the 18th belting the ball out of a puddle to 6 feet, and soaking himself at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having run to the ferry in sunshine, we got a bit of a soaking in France for the first day. However some wildgolf made up for it, and after a few days golf and running, we arrived in Paris, running past the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and the Palace of Versailles. Paul had battled with sore knees for the last three days but the sights and some fine French food took our mind of it.

Arriving at Le Golf National’s the bunting was out, and a game on the famous course  awaited.  It’s the venue for the next Ryder Cup in 2018, we arrived a year ahead of time!

I’d like to say a few thanks- big apologies to anyone I’ve missed out.

Golf In Society are pioneering dementia friendly golf, aimed at improving the lives of people living with dementia by introducing/ reacquainting them to golf. Their messages of support from the participants/ coaches kept us going https://golfinsociety.com/2015/11/10/uks-first-dementia-friendly-golf-club-launches-in-lincon/

To everyone for their support, kind messages and donations.

To Lenka and Joe for leading all the logistics, Dean for help driving, Yannick, Jimmy and Katinka for the welcome and support in France. Lenka also made a great website www.rydercuprun.com

To Merrell for providing us with all running kit. Top class as ever, the only blister I got was on my hand from playing golf.

To Wentworth, Le Golf National and the European Tour and its players, and Stance UK, and Freemans  for supporting the effort.

And to Paul who was consistently excellent company and is still a mile better than me at golf.

HOME NATIONS 100KM CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015

Only 90km to go!

There are many reasons we run. It might be to keep fit, it might be to get the happy hormones going, and in addition I often use running to go somewhere new and for the buzz of competition.

The Anglo-Celtic Plate/ Home Nations 100km Championships 2015 was the chance to pull on a Scotland vest, work as part of a team, and test yourself against the clock, and the other Home Nations athletes. In 2014, the race had taken part in Kent, England where Scotland came 2nd in the team competition, and I ran 7-22, for 2nd in the Scottish Champs and 5th in the UK individually. Last year I felt as if I still had a quicker time in me, having had a hamstring issue, and it being a hot day.

But 2015 has been good to me, with Jennie and I having been joined by baby Nina, an expedition to Namibia, illness, and a hectic work schedule meaning – in short that I was absolutely miles short of the training I needed to do to be truly competitive this year.

This being the case, and having not raced in 2015 I had no idea how quickly to set off, in the picturesque village of Redwick, Wales. I set off with the group on 7 hour pace, some of the guys that I had run with last year, but with my lack of training and windy conditions after 12 km I backed right off, recognising this would be a 1 way ticket to destruction. So I ran the 100km pretty much solo, being wonderfully supported at each aid station by Scottish Athletics Val MacAuley, Craig Stewart, Lorna McMillan, and Noanie Heffron.

Ross Houston

 

Heading towards the finish, I knew that Scotland team mate Ross Houston had won the event in 6-43, the fastest time in the world this year- truly remarkable given he ran solo and with the windy conditions. Despite being almost an hour behind Ross, I was pleased to get the job done in 7-41, enough for 2nd in the Scottish Championships (having overtaken Grant Jeans at around halfway), and 6th in the Home Nations Champs.  Although my time was down on last year, due to various factors it was the absolute best I could do on the day, feeling I was having to dig deeper than a JCB for the last 20-30km. Grant MacDonald, a good friend who remarkably had fully recovered from a brain haemorrhage last year (not at the race) took 3rd in the Scottish Champs, and brought us home for 2nd in the team competition. England brought 5 very strong athletes, and there was no catching them.

The even better news for Scotland was in the ladies competition where Rosie Bell (2nd Overall in less than 9 hours), Charlotte Black, and Keziah Higgins clinched the title.

Triumphant Scotland Women's Team

A huge thanks first of all to Jennie and Nina for allowing me to do some training, despite the fact I am at work and abroad quite a bit. I’m looking forward to taking my girls on holiday next week. Also to my coach Donnie Campbell, Scottish Athletics endurance manager Adrian Stott for their sage advice and motivation, and to our fantastic support crew led by Val in Wales. A massive thanks also to Merrell UK, and my other sponsors for their unwavering support, and excellent equipment.

I am not sure where I will race next, but it will not be for at least 5 weeks. I feel like the tin man this morning.  Challenge wise, we have also found an absolutely outrageous possibility for early 2016, where access by vehicles is very difficult, but local packs of huskies are able to provide a support infrastructure.  More to follow.

Andrew

Merrell UK

RUNNING THE ANDES TO AMAZON IN A DAY – LEAVE TODAY

The actively volcanic Cotopaxi on a rare clear day

The actively volcanic Cotopaxi on a rare clear day

So I am off to the airport, for the next major adventure. The vistas do not get more varied than this in 24 hours- the high crevasse riddled Andes, followed by extremely undulating terrain before hitting the Amazon basin. Below is the press release from Brand Nation.

I need to learn to tie my shoelaces

I need to learn to tie my shoelaces

The expedition can be followed on www.docandrewmurray.com, on twitter at @docandrewmurray or on my Facebook page DocAndrewMurray with live updates en route by the trust Donnie Campbell who will also do the first part of the challenge.

Brand Nation

Ultra-marathon man to run from Andes to the Amazon in a day

Ultra Runner and Merrell ambassador Dr Andrew Murray, whose previous conquests include completing a remarkable 2,559 mile run from Scotland to the Sahara Desert, a 7hr run up Mt Kilimanjaro and race wins in some of the most spectacular and hostile locations on Earth has earmarked his upcoming Andes to Amazon challenge as his hardest to date. The challenge commences on June 14, 2014.

Training in Edinburgh

Training in Edinburgh

South America is a continent of natural extremes, with the two best known natural features being the spectacular Andes mountains and the immense ecosystems of the Amazon jungle. On the day England kick off their football World Cup campaign in the heat and humidity of the amazon city of Maunas, the Scottish International distance runner will run for more than 100 miles through first sub-zero temperatures then the searing heat to reach the Amazon Basin. Murray will first climb the crevasse riddled Mt Cotopaxi (5,897metres), before running the undulating ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’ which includes Mt Tungurahua one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, then descending onto the Pastaza river, which feeds the mighty Amazon.

Murray, 33 from Edinburgh said “the landscape and wildlife are utterly amazing. The major difficulties are having to run about 100 very hilly miles at pretty significant altitude, having just climbed a mountain higher than anything in Europe. I ran Mt Kilimanjaro last year and Cotopaxi is a little higher and is covered in snow and ice so I’d anticipate being tired even before getting off the mountain. Once off the top of the mountain it is anyone’s guess how long it will take to reach the jungle, but I would be delighted with 24 hours.

Actually as a doctor with the SportScotland Institute of Sport I’m aware that altitude, heat and humidity are usually the enemy of the long distance runner, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty sympathy for the English Football team who will be running around in the Amazon jungle on the same day. But I have been kitted out with the gear that will help minimise the effects of the heat, and it would not be a challenge unless it was harder than what I have done before.”

Dr Murray hopes to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise through this epic, saying: “As a GP I know that taking regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. If everyone did 30 minutes of walking, or any other form of exercise a day, stats show it would increase national happiness. Even this amount of exercise increases life expectancy by 7 years. There is a great video called 23.5 hours, whilst I’m really keen to support the Fit in 14 campaign.”

ABOUT DR. ANDREW MURRAY

Merrell Pack Leader Dr Andrew Murray has completed challenges including a 2,659 mile run from John O’Groats to the Sahara, 7 ultra-marathons on the 7 continents in 7 days, and has won races at the North Pole, Antarctica, Outer Mongolia, the Sahara desert, and the jungles of Indonesia as well as racing for Scotland. He is a Sports Medicine doctor having worked with Sportscotland, the European Golf Tour, international football and rugby teams, and at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. He is an advisor for the Scottish Government Physical Activity team promoting exercise for health and championing the Merrell spirit of being active in the outdoors.

ABOUT MERRELL

Andrew will first utilize Merrell’s Allout Rush model to conquer the unstable terrain of Mt Cotopaxi. He’ll switch to the Allout Fuse once off the volcano.

Merrell was founded in 1981. The company’s philosophy is based on encouraging and equipping everyone to Get Outside to seek adventure, exhilaration and new experiences.

FIT IN 14

Get more active, www.fitin14.org/

For further information, contact Andrew Murray on 07 791 303 980, or at docandrewmurray@googlemail.com or Henry Courtier from Brandnation on 02 079 407 170 or at henry@brandnation.co.uk

HOW TO DESTROY YOUR LEGS – RACING THE HOME NATIONS ULTRA CHAMPS

Team Scotland

Team Scotland

Between writing the title for this blog and getting started with the article itself I have already had to take a break due to my hamstrings seizing up with cramp. I have had more cramps today than during any other event that I have ever done. Hopping up and down in the middle of a restaurant can earn you some curious looks.

Fortune has favoured me in relation to running. I have met some wonderful people, and visited some incredible places. Whilst Gravesend in Kent may not quite be equal in scenic wonder to Outer Mongolia, the Sahara Desert, the North Pole or indeed parts of Scotland, being selected to run for Scotland in the Ultra Home Nations Championships/ Anglo Celtic Plate was always going to be worth running 100km round a park several times for.

The Home Nations Championships/ ACP was being held for the 20th consecutive year, and alternates venues between Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales. Scotland were actually the defending champions in the men’s event, with Donnie Campbell, Marco Consani, Paul Giblin, Ian Symington and David Gardiner having come up with the goods last year.

This is the first year I have done conventional road events, interspersing a first at Loch Katrine and a second at the Lochaber marathon with a couple good runs in trail races. A couple of the guys I go running with raced last year, and suggested I should volunteer for selection. It would be fair to say that Scottish Athletics would have viewed me as a wild card, due to a lack of similar type of races before. I have done long races before but have actually run more long races in the Sahara Desert than in the UK, so the Scottish Athletics selectors were taking a gamble of sorts.

It was a good feeling pulling on the Scotland kit (and knowing it would smell considerably worse in 8 hours). There was a bit of pressure, as due to injuries to Richie Cunningham, and Grant MacDonald, the official Scottish men’s team was down to 3, with Wales and England having 5 each. With 3 results “counting” for team honours, we all needed to get round.

Paul Giblin and Ian Symington are exactly the sort of guys you would want running for Scotland. They both ran very well last year (7-34, and 7-44) whilst Paul had destroyed the record for the West Highland Way race last year. For anyone that has done the West Highland Way, I think 15 hours 5 minutes is a pretty solid time! On the start line there was speculation that Steven Way was going to have a go at the 100km British road record. Steve has an amazing story going from by his own admission an overweight smoker, to being one of the fastest on the planet, having won the 50km World Series. As part of his training for this event he ran 2-16 in the London Marathon- not bad for a non-marathoner.

Running food

Running food

For me the race went as well as could be expected. I had undercooked the training, due to laziness and difficulty fitting training around a fairly busy period at work. I really enjoyed running the first 50 odd km with Paul Giblin before realising that a further 40 odd km was a long way to be running on empty. Once you are on the start line I think about 50% of the race is mental, while the rest is in the head. Paul had trained well and looked fresh whilst I could feel my legs getting heavy. What makes a difference in these circumstances is finding a way to think positively, and block out the discomfort of legs that would prefer to be sitting watching the television. With these international races, Scottish Athletics send a support crew, to help keep you fuelled, and motivated. In our corner we had the brilliant Adrian Stott and Val MacAuley, who have kept more runners on their pegs than anyone else in the business and indeed they were absolutely top class. Looking around, it was absolute carnage. As well as the international match, about 50 other runners were taking part in the race which doubled as the 100km British Championships. 7 hours in many looked as if they had been 12 rounds with Mike Tyson, and that probably included myself.

Finished!

Finished!

But certainly not Steve Way, who had destroyed the British 100km road record, and ran the fastest time in the world this year, and for some time, winning by an almost ludicrous 44 minutes in 6 hours 19 minutes and 30 seconds. Paul Giblin took 25 minutes off his time last year to finish 3rd overall in the British Champs, and put himself 5th on the Scottish all time 100km list in 7 hours 10 minutes, whilst was a couple minutes ahead of 2 of the English lads to finish 5th overall, 2nd in the Scottish Championships, and 10th on the all time list with 7 hours and 22minutes. Ian Symington was the only man spotted smiling the whole way round, smashing his PB in 7-28,30 and securing 2nd overall for Scotland in the men’s competition. On the female side, the Scottish side had been decimated with injuries, but Rosie Bell, put in a brilliant 8-57 to get under the 9 hour landmark.

Ian Symington

Ian Symington

My reflections are that it is a real honour for any Scot to represent their country, and it is a great privilege to earn that. Long road races bring entirely different challenges to some of the adventures I have been on before, and in fact the satisfaction of having to tough out the relentless nature of a flattish tarmac course brings massive mental fatigue but being part of a team helps you get the job done. Today I have woken up feeling like a man of 80 years old, and I will probably give running a miss for today. The next challenge is entirely different, and perhaps in a way more familiar for me- running up some volcanos and around the jungle in South America in June which I am looking forward to enormously. I will be heading out with Donnie Campbell, who helped me massively with sorting out a training schedule for the Anglo Celtic Plate, having blitzed it himself last year.

Here are a few links related to the race:

  • www.national100k.com
  • www.steveway.co.uk
  • And a few folk worth following on twitter:

  • @pyllon (Paul Giblin)
  • @marigold_bac (Steven Way)
  • National 100km - Murray

    Andrew

    STUNNING LOCH KATRINE

    Is there anything runner’s would rather do than run a stunning course in glorious weather? For all of us lucky enough to enjoy the Loch Katrine Running Festival this was exactly what was served up.

    Loch Katrine landscape

    Loch Katrine landscape

    Runners could choose between a scenic and undulating 10km, a half marathon, or the full marathon on a day that the sun shone, and the towering peaks of the trossachs glistened like a collection of wedding cakes all around the loch. All events are run on the road, which climbs and descends around the loch, offering magnificent vistas and some chunky hills.

    I love turning up at races and seeing some familiar faces.  Running back in Scotland, there were loads of friends running, as well as stalwart marshalls and race organisers like Julie Clarke, and Audrey McIntosh.  Audrey has been to the ends of the earth with her running, raising huge amounts for Alzheimers Scotland, details for her incredible runs out in Antarctica last year can be found here http://antarcticodyssey.co.uk/ .

    I’d camped at the Lochside and woke up to a frost which could only mean pleasant cool conditions. I got chatting to Gerry Craig, who had finished second last year, who raved about the course but mentioned “that a few would know all about the hills by the finish”. I ran the first 15km at a comfortable pace, having had a large week in training. At the half way point I remember feeling pretty fresh and thinking about a negative split. That is how it proved, with the second half being a mix of hellos to other competitors (it is an out and back course) and looking around at the scenery. Needing the toilet is a great incentive to speed up for the last few kilometres, and the second half of the race was 4 minutes quicker than the first, hitting the tape in 2-49. I was pleased with the run, which took 8 minutes off the course record and was good enough for first place.

    Needing the toilet - picture credit Susan Harley

    Needing the toilet – picture credit Susan Harley

    This is definitely a race I can recommend for someone looking for a course of outstanding beauty- although is definitely not a PB course. It also raises plenty cash for an outstanding charity. On the subject of generosity, a huge thanks to Muir of Ord Jog Scotland group for their generosity in supporting SAMH, a charity I am passionate about. I have been fortunate to share stories and talks in Muir of Ord, Inverness, Glasgow and a few other places in the last few weeks and have a few upcoming in the next few weeks. I really enjoy hearing the stories of others, and getting ideas for the next race or adventure.

    Antarctica united, with race organiser Audrey McIntosh - Credit Colin Smith

    Antarctica united, with race organiser Audrey McIntosh – Credit Colin Smith

    I am not sure where I will race next, but may do Lochaber marathon or possibly the Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon in a couple weeks. I have been selected to run for Scotland in the Home Nations Championships (Anglo Celtic Plate) at the start of May so will be putting the hours in on the road, as well as the hills.

    Thanks as always to coach Donnie Campbell, and to Merrell UK as ever for their support.

    A RACE WIN- COASTAL TRAIL SERIES NORTHUMBERLAND ULTRA

    The decision on whether to race or not when carrying injuries is always a tough one. For me it usually comes down to factors that include

    1)    Is the race somewhere beautiful. That I want to run

    2)    Is the race important

    3)    Am I going to make the injury worse by running and

    4)    How sore will it be

    Approaching the finish

    Approaching the finish at Banburgh Castle

    Endurance Life put on an excellent series of races, deliberately stationed in areas of natural beauty. Living in Edinburgh, I do like a good castle, and the Northumberland coastal trail has castles in spades.  I have not spent much time exploring this coast before, and on foot, during a race seemed an ideal way to do so.  The knocks I was carrying were more annoyances rather than significant injuries. I’d been elbowed in the ribs and had my foot stood on playing football in midweek (that is what I get for having a clumsy touch!).  The ribs grumbled taking a deep breath and when running quickly, whilst my foot has some interesting looking bruises.

    These annoyances were blown out of the water by the prospect of a decent outing on a baby blue weather day. The van was fully frosted over, and the stars out by the time I got to sleep. Having come directly from working at the Edinburgh vs Ospreys rugby game I wasn’t sure I’d packed a pair of trainers- leaving office shoes or rugby boots as alternatives. I’d ran a few hills before in a pair of office shoes and did not fancy a repeat.

    Fortunately when I woke out the Merrell’s were there, and I jumped on the bus to the start line. The route itself was a linear and varied one. The birds sang and my mood splendid at the start. After only a couple miles my race was nearly over. Having already been outwitted by one gate, I tried to jump one, and succeeded only in giving myself a fence in the baby making department.

    With one thing and another- running quickly was catching my ribs a bit I ran a pretty conservative race. The course was a superb mixture of coastal trail, sandy beach, dunes, along with some mud (where would we be without mud in March) and road.  It was great to see great fields for not only the ultra, but also for the marathon, half marathon and 10km- many people I spoke to said it was their first.  I was a little caught up in the scenery, getting a little lost a couple times although this was entirely my own fault- the routes were well marked.  I ran steadily, taking a gel every 30 minutes, and aiming for make sure I finished in 4 hrs 40 minutes as my good friends Mike and Jess McKenzie were getting married nearby- this would give me the time to scrub up.

    Banburgh Castle imposes itself for many miles. Spectators can see the finishers approaching many miles off, and the encouragement was welcome. I finished in 4 hours 32 minutes, finishing first in the Ultra and well in time for the wedding.

    Sun and a medal- I'm happy

    Sun and a medal- I’m happy

    Endurance Life put on a fantastic series of events, I can recommend trying one of them for yourself.  I used Merrell’s new kit for the season, the All Out Rush trainer (review can be found on runblogger) and Science in Sport nutrition.

    Good luck to everyone running races soon- next one for me is the Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon at the start of April.

    Andrew

     

    RACING NEXT WEEK! AND WHAT’S AHEAD

    In 2012, I fancied trying out the extremes of temperature. This included running in the chilly North Pole, the Antarctic Ice Marathon, the searing heat of Outer Mongolia in their summer, as well as doing 7 ultra marathons on the 7 continents in under a week. I guess it was a form of extreme sightseeing. The year was pretty full on from a work point of view, never mind the bonus of travelling.
    So for 2013, the plan was to spend a bit of time in the hills with Jennie doing our own thing, and sharing these sights with her. We’ve been in the hills of Skye, the Dolomites in Italy, as well as a whole range of other places in our trusty campervan.

    Running in Dolomites

    Running in Dolomites- Andrew Murray

    I also wanted to spend a bit of time with my family, so an ideal solution was to head to Kenya, where I was brought up, learn a load from the best athletes on earth, as well as running up and down mt Kilimanjaro, mt Kenya, and running ultras each day we were out there. I also ran in the Scottish Championship race, managing to be first Scot home (although I hadn’t formally registered with Scottish Athletics so didn’t get the trophy.) Another part of the world I’ve always wanted to spend time is the Giant’s Causeway, so the chance to race and perform well out there was one I looked forward to.

    Running that volume of ultras in the summer (18 in 18 days) killed any speed I had so it would have been pointless competing before now, but next week sees the IAAF/ IAU World Trophy 50km series come to Austria. I’ll hopefully  be racing for UVU/ Merrell out there in what promises to be an epic.

    Having said that my knee flared up running in the hills at the weekend, so I will have to treat it aggressively, and see if it responds.  I’d planned to run Cairngorm and Ben MacDui , and felt ok until MacDui. At this point my knee hurt enough to make running painful so I just walked back. The weather had clagged in and i traversed around to get back quicker- but got myself a few hundred yards off course. I was pretty cold, and was pleased to see a couple climbers from England who not only pointed me in the right direction, but seeing i was shivering actually offered to walk me back to the furnicular for a ride down. I was offered a hot chocolate and a warm blanket by incredibly helpful staff at Cairngorm Mountain. I would have got myself down but the kindness, jacket and hot chocolate were most welcome. Even though I’ve spent time in some famously cold places, the wind and drenching rain in the hills can be as cold as anywhere, and has reminded me to make sure I pack extra clothes and food. Scotland has some of the most breathtaking and beautiful mountains (as well as some of the friendliest walkers) on earth, but it can get cold fairly quickly.

    My right knee currently is twice the size of my left due to a pre-patellar bursitis, so hopefully this settles in time.  If the knee doesn’t settle- i’ll go out to Austria but not race.

    2014 is quite a hectic year work wise for me, with the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, along with my usual work. But to be honest I am not sure I would cope with not having a challenge or two on the horizon, so I will definitely go out and race in the 50km World Trophy Final (qualification permitting), I’ll be doing an exciting challenge with Donnie Campbell in Scotland, and have an exciting speedclimb in Asia up my sleeve.
    So I’m looking forward to next week, and year. This year I’ve benefitted from so much support not only from principal sponsors UVU racing, Merrell, and the Balmoral, but from friends, family, and all those that have collected shoes for Running Across Borders, or money for APCA, and SAMH. Together we’ve managed to send more than 800 pairs of shoes, and vital medical supplies to many locations worldwide, and raised well over £100 000 for the Yamaa trust, APCA, and SAMH. It’s also great to have established links with excellent organisations like the John Ngugi Foundation.

    Andrew
     

    TERRIBLE ADMIN ON MY PART DENIES ME SCOTTISH 50-KM TITLE!

    Perth, UK

    Perth, UK


    31st March, 2013 saw the 100-km and 50-km races at Perth, which were the Scottish Athletics Championships, with the 100-km race also being the 100-Km Home Nations Championships.

    My usual preference is to concentrate on expeditions, and races in parts of the world that I have always wanted to see, but this year I am thinking about doing a couple of “Championships” races, with this being the Scottish one.

    Essentially due to laziness on my part, and working fairly long hours I’d neglected to get much in the way of training in so set off fairly conservatively in the 50km. I let Paul Fernandez, of England and GB out of sight as he went off at a rate of knots. While being a medic at a high altitude camp earlier this year, Paul was an athlete with British Athletics, and the training had obviously agreed with him.

    I ran with a couple of guys from the GB long distance team, looking forward to the world Championships in May and settled into just knocking out laps on the 2.3km course at a regular rate. With 11 kms to go I moved into second overall, and first Scot. Grant Jeans had dropped out with injury, and I’d passed a couple of others. Grant is one of the quickest in Britain but he has been unlucky with injury recently – he may have raced Paul if injury free. There was no point in chasing Paul Fernandez (3 hrs 4 mins), who was miles clear, and I had a few minutes gap on third place so ran steady until the finish in 3 hrs 21. GB/English athlete, Robbie Britton was 3rd, with Gerry Craig and Craig Reid 2nd and 3rd Scots.

    I was happy enough with second, and first Scot- at the Scottish Athletics 50-km National Championships. There were some good runners behind me, and I’m looking forward to picking up the training for a run across Kenya in the summer.

    You may ask if being first Scot at the National Championships makes me the Scottish Champion for that distance. The answer is technically not – as I had not got round to joining Scottish Athletics, so Gerry Craig gets the prize – and had a great race.

    Below is what I used, and will be using this year, having found them all to be excellent:

    Shoes – Merrell MixMaster

    Clothes – UVU

    Nutition- Clif gels, bars and shot blocks

    The 100-km National Championships, also had the Home Nations Championships as a part of them. The overall team prize was won by Scotland, although the individual prize was won by Irishman Daniel Docherty, with Englishman Craig Holgate 2nd. My good mate Donnie Campbell was first Scot, and 3rd overall, with Marco Consani 5th, and Paul Giblin 7th. It was a fantastic achievement by the team who all looked simultaneously wrecked, and delighted as they finished. All these guys will have brilliant seasons no doubt.

    A huge part of the event were the marshalls, and the crowd, with many friendly faces offering encouragement, and goodies. Special mention to the as always race organiser Adrian Stott of Run and Become, and Scottish Athletics – the organisation was impeccable!

    Next longish race I’ll do is over in Northern Ireland, at the Giants Causeway, with 50-kms of epic cliffs, wing bridges and funny shaped rocks to run over, before teaming up with Donnie for a 20-day beast of an expedition through East Africa.

    Andrew

    WHAT’S PLANNED 2013 – RUNNING

    2012 was another great year, running and travel wise. The biggie I suppose was running 7 ultra-marathons, on each of the 7 continents in 5 days 14 hours, but I also managed to place first overall in each of the North Pole Marathon, The Gobi Challenge, and the Antarctic Ice Marathon. There were challenges, and hiccups encountered on each of these, for example breaking a wrist 10 days before the North Pole, but fortunately they all worked out.

    Run The World challenge - Sydney

    Run The World challenge: 7 Ultramarathons, on each of the 7 continents in 5 days 14 hours – Finish Line


    For 2013, the over-riding goals are the same – to enjoy running, and see a bit of the world. But I also want to learn a bit from the best, what makes them so fast, what makes them so consistent, and why is David Rudisha always smiling. I am lucky in the work that I do with Scottish Institute for Sport, and UK Athletics to have some insight into this, but I really fancy heading back to East Africa, where I grew up, and learning from the Kenyans.

    So a long jog in East Africa in the summer is the priority, and while I am there I will take in the main mountains, game parks, and things to see. More about this in the next blog. I would also like to take in some iconic sites like the Giant’s causeway, and the Dolomites and run there, and also test myself a wee bit in the UK and internationally – I have not trained specifically for a race in the UK before or a championship, and will give this a go.

    Dolomites, Italy

    Dolomites, Italy

    Rough Schedule – TBC

    March, 31st – Scottish Athletics 50km Champs Perth
    May, 4th – Giants Causeway Race. Northern Ireland
    June, 8th – Dirty 30, Lochalsh
    June 26th – July 20, Run High Africa
    July, 25th – Trans D’Havet Ultra, Dolomites, Italy
    September, 21st – Sri Chimnoy 24-hour race
    October, 28th to November, 3rd – Himalayan 100 miler and Everest Challenge Marathon

     
     

    FASTER, HIGHER, LONGER – LESSONS FROM AFRICA

    An epic endurance challenge – traversing a series of iconic locations, running with the fastest runners on the planet. July 2013

    An epic endurance challenge – traversing a series of iconic locations, running with the fastest runners on the planet. July 2013

    Dr Andrew Murray 32 – is a recent convert to running. But in the last 5 years he has won endurance races in some of the most spectacular and hostile locations imaginable including the Sahara desert, the Jungle, the arctic in Winter and in Outer Mongolia. In 2011 he completed a 2,659 mile run from far North Scotland to the Sahara desert.

    2012 was another sucessful year for Andrew, with wins in the North Pole Marathon, Gobi Challenge, the Antarctic Ice Marathon and a further world record running 7 Ultra-marathons, on 7 continents in 5 days, 13hrs 28 mins.

    Doc Andrew Murray, S2S challenge

    Doc Andrew Murray, S2S challenge

    Coverage of these challenges includes television features in over 70 countries and a 1hr BBC documentary.

    North Pole 2012, Finish Line

    North Pole 2012, Finish Line

    Now in his latest and most ambitious challenge Andrew returns to East Africa, the land of his childhood, and home to 92 of the world’s top 100 marathon runners. Andrew will run over an ultra-marathon a day, and over 1000 kilometres in total at altitude, through iconic Game Reserves, through the Rift Valley, and will include runs up the mighty snow-capped Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro.

    His 2013 schedule will also include ultra-marathons in his native Scotland, as well further afield, and the writing of his second book following the success of his first – “Running Beyond Limits: The Adventures of an Ultra Marathon Runner”

    Andrew is also a Sports Medicine doctor, work has included with UK Athletics, the European Tour Golf, international football and rugby teams, the Scottish Government, and at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. He is the Director of Marathon Medical Services. He will use his acclimatization period and contacts to explore what makes a faster marathon runner, how any runner can improve, and what we can learn from the Kenyans for his book, and for a film of his run in East Africa.

    This African Odyssey is not only a story of extreme physical and mental endurance set against the backdrop of some of the most iconic and beautiful locations on the planet. It is also a unique look at the science behind running, at the limits of human performance but also at what the average runner can learn from the Kenyans, and other experts to make them enjoy their running, and get better results.

    Schedule:

    January, 2013
    Scoping visit to Kenya. Whilst working with UK Athletics in Kenya, Andrew will speak with some of the best athletes and coaches, explore what makes Kenyan runners the fastest, and test himself at altitude, and in the extreme heat and humidity he can expect.

    February – June, 2013
    Pushing the body to the limits of human endurance requires complete commitment, desire and an ability to learn. Andrew will speak to the top experts in nutrition, conditioning, and psychology to put himself in the best position to succeed, and to learn how other athletes and runners can obtain their best results. His training will peak out running 185 miles per week, and use Sport Scotland Institute for Sport facilities, as well as training in the mountains of Scotland.

    Running the Scottish Mountains

    Scottish Mountains

    July, 2013

    1-5th Acclimatisation.
    Without acclimatization, failure is inevitable. For example Andrew will attempt to scale Kilimanjaro in a day, which would risk severe mountain sickness and death without this. Almost every successful distance runner including Mo Farah and Haile Gabreselaise has spent time at the High Altitude Training Camp in Iten, Kenya, which is where Andrew will train.

    6-25th, The Challenge.
    The challenge begins in the Kenyan Highlands. Andrew will climb the 5000metre Mt Kenya in a day, past farmlands and then up through the rainforest into the bamboo jungle. This takes him up into the cloud forest, before the mountain opens up into alpine scenery, with giant lobelias, before the jagged peaks and glaciers emerge. Andrew will climb over the Lewis glacier and onto Point Lenana where Kilimanjaro can be seen on a clear day.

    Point Lenana, Mount Kenya

    Point Lenana, Mount Kenya

    From there he will head towards the Aberdares, spending a night potentially viewing the big 5 at the Arc, a world famous wildlife hotel, and then into the Great Rift Valley, the cradle of humanity and towards Lake Bogoria, home not only to spectacular geysers but to the greatest concentration of Flamingos acknowledged as one of the greatest wildlife spectacles in Africa. Lake Baringo hosts numerous species of animals, birds, and is surrounded by dramatic escarpments. Next it’s through the Kerio reserve, home to many types of monkey, and into Iten- the undisputed capital of the distance running world, where many world and Olympic champions will be training.

    Kakamega Forest reserve is a virgin tropical rainforest showcasing the variety of habitats East Africa has to offer, whilst Hell’s Gate National Park is an amazing and unique environment with a plethora of animals contained within the spectacular gorges and looming cliffs. A further highlight will be an ascent of Mt Longonot, the giant that dominates the surrounding landscape. Magma activity below the volcano, buffalo, leopard and zebra are features of the mountain.

    Kenya

    Kenya

    The hustle and bustle of Nairobi, with the giant elephant tusk gates leads to Olorgesaile Prehistoric site, a World Heritage site in the cradle of civilization. From this point Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro draws us towards her. Forest gives way to breathtaking montane scenery, with Andrew having run from its base to the top in a day.

    During the challenge Andrew will, at altitude, complete over 1000km, and climb over 120 000 feet, more than 4x the height of Mt Everest. He will burn 7000 calories a day – enough for a 700kg crocodile, and enough for 3 men – he will run on glaciers, through desert, over mountains, and through spectacular game reserves.

    Andrew