My journey into ultra running originated from FOMO (fear of missing out). Firstly, my brother decided he was doing a half marathon and I followed suit on the basis that: if he can do it, I can do it. Nothing like a bit of sibling rivalry. Although he’s now a triathlete and training for for an Ironman. I certainly won’t be following him into multi-sport, as my swimming is well below par. As for ultra-running, it started with an email from my wife, Debbie with a link to the Devil o’ the Highlands. She said we’d run marathons, so 42 miles would be easy. At least that’s how I interpreted it. I made all the rookie errors and was leading at 18 miles, blew up and finished 4th. Obviously I had a lot to learn, but I was hooked on longer distances.
After the Devils, the West Highland Way is the obvious next choice. Well, that seemed logical at the time. It took me five attempts – including one death march and one DNF – to get it right. Around this time Debbie had started running for Scotland and then the GB team. In an attempt to get out of support duties, I gained the qualifying time and distance to run on the Scotland 100km team and the Great Britain 24-hour team. I was part of the the ACP 100k Scotland winning team and Great Britain team that won gold at the World 24-hour Championships in Turin and silver at the European Championships in Albi. I have also run the Lakeland 100 three times, winning once and second twice.
I like running on all surfaces, hence my mixed up running CV. But if it was my birthday and I had a choice of a group run it would be on mountains and anyone that knows my routes will know that means loads of bog. I’ve some how acquired the nickname ‘Bog Boy’ and there are often complaints about ‘Marco Mystery Tours’.
I hold the course records for the Barcelona 24 (256km) and the Glasgow to Edinburgh Ultra (6:19) and I was delighted to win Lakeland 100 and the Winter 100. Coming second to Paul Giblin himself on the West Highland Way Race (my 5th attempt) in 16:03 is so special to me. I first walked the West Highland Way when I was 15, so my heart will always belong on what I think is the UK’s best long distance trail.
For an ultra runner I have run surprisingly few marathons. The only one I trained specifically for was Loch Ness Marathon back in 2006. I’ve now gone full circle and focusing on Berlin Marathon in September. I’m a little daunted by the prospect of running a race that requires so much effort and pace with little room for error. Then I’ll be looking to the cross-country season, which will hopefully set me up to get back to trail and mountain running next year. I’d love to go back to Transgrancanaria and possibly try one of the classic rounds. Maybe the Bob Graham Round, if any of Team Pyllon fancy some supporting?