Endurance athletes Dr Andrew Murray, and Donnie Campbell yesterday ran up and down the 5,895 metres of Mount Kilimanjaro in a day. Remarkably this feat merely marked the start of a significant undertaking from the pair, who aim to run an ultra-marathon each day for the next 17 days, including runs up Mt Kenya, through tropical rainforests, and game reserves, whilst uncovering the secrets of the success of East African athletes and covering a distance of over 900 kilometres.Andrew Murray, a Sports Medicine Doctor with SportScotland Institute of Sport, and former Marine Commando Campbell, 28 from Glasgow took the Western Breach route, widely considered to be the steepest and most aggressive standard route on the mountain, taking 7 hours and 16 minutes to reach the summit having started at the park gate at 1610 metres with German speed climber and videographer, Basti Haag of UVU. They ascended then descended through 5 distinct zones – the rainforest, cloudforest, moorland, desert and glacial zones. From the summit they were afforded views across the Tanzanian plains, and much of the region before descending via the Mweka route.
Mt Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, and the highest free standing mountain in the world. Trekkers usually take 5 to 7 days to summit, with many suffering from high altitude sickness. Doctor Murray, originally from Aberdeen played down the achievement:
“What a phenomenal day, climbing through rainforest, montane scenery and finally glacier before topping out. It feels like my feet have been through a lawnmower, and we are pretty tired, but we took quite a scientific approach with advice from colleagues at SportScotland helping us get there. It’s on with the rest of the challenge, tomorrow we are off to Amboselli National Park.”
Doctor Murray’s objective is to discover the secrets to the prolific success of East African athletes – home to 90 of the best 100 marathon runners in the world – and to use that information to help inform the work that he and his colleagues at the sportscotland institute of sport are doing to support Scottish middle and long-distance runners ahead next summer’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Olympic games in Rio.
“We’ll see some incredible things, but the chance to spend time in the company of world beating athletes and coaches will be a highlight. The area around Iten is the single greatest production line of world class sporting talent on earth. Is it the altitude, what they eat, genetics, role modelling, a lack of school buses, or other factors that make them so successful?”
Donnie Campbell, the current Scottish 100km champion said:
“The altitude was absolutely brutal, especially the last bit on the glacier. Andy and I run up hills in Scotland all the time but I am relieved we took a few days to acclimatise before the run – I felt like I was breathing through a straw up there. I am glad the monkeys did not steal any of the food we had stashed. I can’t say I am looking forward to tomorrow’s 50Kms, but at least the views are decent painkillers.”
Donnie Campbell also shares his thoughts via @getactiverunnin on twitter