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.