BRITISH ADVENTURERS TO BREAK NEW GROUND IN MONGOLIA

There is starting to be a bit of press interest in the trip to Outer Mongolia. Here is a little info, in case it is helpful.  Currently at the airport, it should be a cracker!

With average temperatures of -40 Celsius, and the lowest density of human habitation on earth, Mongolia in winter is widely considered one of the most beautiful, yet savage places on earth.  Perhaps it is unsurprising that few have attempted any serious endurance challenges there in winter, but January 2016 will see a band of hardy British adventurers attempt the inaugural Genghis Khan Ice Marathon, run not on land, but along the frozen Tuul gol river, an area heavily populated with wolves, with the route patrolled by teams of huskies to ensure their safety.

Genghis Khan Ice Marathon start

These challenges have been set by expedition leader David Scott of Sandbaggers (www.sand-baggers.com) , a veteran of over 20 trips to Mongolia, and Dr Andrew Murray.

Scott, 42, from Glasgow, who is also Mongolian Honorary Consul for Scotland:

“Effort alone will not be enough.  Competitors will need to prepare themselves thoroughly for the frigid conditions, have the necessary quality clothing, and need a fair slice of luck, particularly with the weather. We have several teams of huskies to resupply runners, and ensure interactions with the local wildlife are safe.  And although there is a chance of failure, this is an area of extreme beauty, of vast skies, unique culture, and a rich history. It is also an opportunity for a world first. The runners are no strangers to extreme endurance, and they come from all corners of the globe.

It’s a real privilege to be involved in furthering relations between Mongolia and Scotland.  This is the latest in a series of sporting and cultural events and I’m particularly honoured to be attending the 5th Ulan Bator Burns supper with such illustrious company, in advance of the event itself.’

Murray, 35 from Edinburgh, who works as a Sports and Exercise Doctor with University of Edinburgh and is a Merrell brand ambassador added

Training in Scotland

“It is human nature to test yourself, and try and test your own body’s limits.  I can’t say that my support crew has ever been a pack of huskies before, but I’ll be giving it everything I have to get to the finish and avoid frostbite and hypothermia. Conditions are expected to be -35 to minus 40, but it is likely to feel a little colder with the wind chill. But all those hours training up in the Scottish hills in winter whilst everyone else is enjoying their Christmas festivities will be worth it. Everyone will look to do well, but the principle objective is to finish, and have a full complement of fingers and toes to go home with- Dave Scott is the best in the business and will give us every chance.

Outer Mongolia is beyond spectacular. Where else could you run down an ice river in an area so steeped in history, with the prospect of a Burns supper, complete with a pipe band to look forward to when we arrive in Ulan Bator. In this endeavour, many of us are looking to promote the value of regular exercise for health. Even walking 30 minutes 5 times per week, makes you on average happier, and helps you live 7 years longer than couch potatoes.”

Shona Thomson, who has run marathons on all seven continents and the North Pole, is heading up the fundraising for RDA. Shona, who is sponsored by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, said,

Mongolian community on the Tuul river

“It’s incredible to be involved in this expedition and I’m looking forward to meeting old and new friends. I’ve got several objectives for the trip. Primarily, I want to raise a lot of funding for Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). In addition to running the marathon, I’ll also be riding a Mongolian pony to help raise awareness of RDA. I’ve not ridden for years so I’m hoping that at a minimum the pony has been broken in!
I’m also looking forward to experiencing a new culture and visiting a country I might never have otherwise got to see. It’ll be wonderful to see the beautiful landscapes on the marathon course.

The expedition will support Scottish Charities Riding for the Disabled Association and the Scottish Association for Mental Health, whilst legacy work in Mongolia will see the building of gers (homes) for needy families, and the donation of medical equipment to rural communities

Our fundraising link and video can be seen here:

Fundraising link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/GhengisKhanIceMarathon

Fundraising video https://youtu.be/TuO5ZQKXTGc

The event will be supported by expedition organisers Sandbaggers, while Paisley based Digitalpict Photography will provide event & expedition photography, and HUTC will capture documentary and news video footage.

Fundraising link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/GhengisKhanIceMarathon

For further information, please contact

Dave Scott (expedition organiser, logistics/safety/Mongolian liaison) david@sand-baggers.com 07717755166

Andrew Murray (athlete) docandrewmurray@googlemail.com

Shona Thomson (RDA) shonat25@hotmail.com 07967975872

RUNNING THE 10 HIGHEST MOUNTAINS IN SCOTLAND – IN A DAY!

Donnie Campbell and myself are going to try to run the 10 highest mountains in Scotland in a day. We are doing this because we had a free Saturday and fancied a challenge, but also to raise some money and awareness for SAMH (each penny makes a huge difference) and for the Fit in 14 campaign which is well worth supporting.

Some information about the challenge is going out to a few papers and magazines – give me a shout on docandrewmurray@googlemail.com if I can help with further information and the below

Scottish International distance runners Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell are set to attempt a climb of the 10 highest mountains of Great Britain in a day. Taking on a challenge that may not have been completed before, on the 19th of July they will first run up and down Ben Lawers before driving to then take a route including 4 mountains through the Nevis range, followed by another drive to the Cairngorm mountains, where the final 5 mountains await. The challenge, billed “The Big 10” will be followed by a team from BBC Scotland’s “The Adventure Show”, and may well set a marker that will see others trying to go under the magical 24 hours, with faster folks going for any potential record.

Andrew & Donnie, running up Mount Kilimanjaro

Andrew & Donnie, running Mt Kilimanjaro 2013

Dr Murray, 33, races for Merrell UK, and is a GP based in Edinburgh, whose previous conquests include completing a remarkable 2,559 mile run from Scotland to the Sahara Desert, a 7 hour run up Mt Kilimanjaro and races won in some of the most spectacular and hostile locations on Earth. He is part of the sports medicine team at the sport scotland institute of sport.

He said:

There is nowhere I would rather be than in the mountains of Scotland on a summer’s day. This will be a tough but beautiful shift, but what we are hoping to do is raise awareness of the benefits of exercise, and being in the great outdoors. We know for example that even doing 30 minutes walking 5 days a week has been shown to make people happier on average, and live 7.2 years longer, so we’re urging people to build walking into their routine, and take advantage of schemes like Fit in 14. It’s inspiring what some people have achieved for example Paul Giblin running the entire length of the West Highland Way in 14 hours 20 minutes, but even a little exercise goes a long way towards happiness and health.

Training in Edinburgh

Training in Edinburgh

Campbell, 29 is a running coach, and a former Marine Commando based in Edinburgh who previously ran from Glasgow to his former home of Skye without stopping.
He added:

It will be a 4 am start, followed by a full day of up and down, up and down. It is a completely do-able challenge, and we hope people will give ‘The Big 10’ a shot after us. Some fresh air and a load of hills might give us sore legs the next day, but it’s much underestimated how good exercise is for mental health as well as physical health, which is why we’re encouraging everyone to get active in whichever way suits them ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and are looking to support the Scottish Association for Mental Health, whose Get Active campaign is doing loads to increase Scotland’s mental health through physical activity

The Route:

Mountain Height (metres)
Ben Lawers 1,214
Aonach Mohr 1,221
Aonach Beag 1,234
Carn Mhor Dearg 1,220
Ben Nevis 1,344
Cairngorm 1,244
Ben MacDui 1,309
Braeriach 1,296
Angels Peak 1,258
CairnToul 1,291

Andrew

Merrell UK

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.