I came to running a bit later in life at the grand old age of 36. I had come to the conclusion that watching football and drinking alcohol were not that conducive to a healthy lifestyle neither was it a great example to be setting my son. I had dabbled in a couple of half marathons and 2 tough mudders prior to my introduction to this mad world of ultra running. I had a bit of a chance meeting with Davie Gow in the Kilpatrick hills… well I thought it was a chance meeting, turns out Davie practically lives in the Kilpatrick’s. After we’d spent about an hour running with him he parted with some sage advice, “ you guys should try running an ultra”.
A few months later, Graham and I found ourselves on the West Highland Way attempting to run it over 3 days. The 2nd day coincided with the West Highland Way race, and we spent much of the 2nd day running with the racing runners. Our day ended as planned at the Invoraran Hotel. Off-plan, was me having a panic attack and bonking, finally coming around in the company of 2 paramedics. The following day I took the bus to Fort William and registered my first DNF.
My first Ultra race was Jedburgh. I completed the race and finished somewhere in the top 20. After this experience I decided that I kind of enjoyed the weird suffering which I then learned had a name.. Type 2 fun! so I went in search of more and found it by the bucket load. Along the way, I considered getting a coach. Paul Giblin was recommended to me. At first I hesitated as I assumed that only the top guy and girls had coaches. After a short period of time (24 hours) I decided to go for it. Like I said, I was 36 when I stated running and didn’t have the time to waste on learning it all for myself, so a coach like Paul would be perfect to fast-track me to where my ambition was and ability needed to be.
It took a couple of years of hard work but I eventually got there with my first win at the Devil o The Highlands, I’d come close prior to that and had been on the podium at a couple of races, but this was my first proper win.
When it comes to my preferred surfaces and surroundings then the Scottish Highlands take some beating. The technical terrain, single-track, wet bogs, razor thin ridges and rocky descents make for some of the best running you can get. I love the solitude and silence of the mountains and how their sheer mass intimidates.
To date my running highlight has to be Pyllon Endeavour. As a team of friends and other coached athletes we took part in a truly amazing experience to raise awareness for mental health issues. What we achieved far exceeded our expectations. The experience is something that I’ll be talking about in years to come.
My goals for the future will include some personal challenges. The Ramsay Round is something that I’ve been talking about for a while now and the Bob Graham is also something that really interests me. I’ve the small matter of completing my first 100 mile race which I’m absolutely determined to do after 3 failed attempts. And to complement all of this there will be a few races along the way.