One of my old pals Mark Hartree has just completed 7 Ultra Marathons for charity this is his story, if you feel you can help please do. I knew Mark a friend from my days in RAF Mountain Rescue was a strong and fit mountaineer. He then had a nickname 2ba in the team (small but as he says perfectly formed)
Hill Runners are unassuming men and women with no egos. Today’s sports superstars could learn from these people. Most are unique band of unknown athletes. They are passionate about their sport hill running . They are very private people, they are a “family” and this article gives an insight into this incredible sport, their life, the pain, the suffering but the joy of moving fast through wild land. Incredible!
“Boldness be your friend”: My Dad once said to this to me. It has often worked for me but equally often it got me into trouble, as some of you know. But I have always admired people who do hard things in life that seem at first glance impossible. I guess it depends where you start from, how you prepare and how you commit to something that makes the difference.
Molly: TV campaigns like Children in Need get you closer to understanding how lucky most of us are and how much help others need. I was lousy with ‘charity’ till Molly was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. A friend’s daughter and her family faced a tough time and would need a lot of support. What could I do living 240 miles away? Not much directly but indirectly I could turn challenging runs into donations to help out with specialist equipment, support helpers and advise,respite care, parties for the kid, visits from Santa, research. Little things, but important, need money.
Training: This year’s challenge of 7 Ultra Marathons over summer 2015 would be tough not only for running 7 races between 29-73 miles in length, off-road and in the hills, but to recover enough in between them and be fit to run the race on the day. My training involved increasingly long runs – including a Coast to Coast run along Hadrian’s Wall (~82miles) over 2 days in winter with Carnethy club-mates. Friday after work some weeks involved a marathon distance run home, long runs to or from work via the 7 Edinburgh Hills, hill runs up to 8hrs and a circumnavigation of Edinburgh covering 32 miles, with some weeks hitting 70 miles running. I also tried to run fast for short distances, doing high intensity Interval Sessions at Inverleith on Tuesdays with some amazingly fast runners.
The Runs: No Ultra race is easy, they all have their quirks. The short ones happened early in the year, or were run it 32C temperature, or simply covered all of Glencoe!. The flatter ones, with fabulous scenery or the finest beaches in the UK, also have soft wet sand, mud, rocks and potholes to grind through.
Few words can describe the beauty of running through Skye, Loch Lomond side, the Autumn colours around Jedburgh, or seeing the Matterhorn through bright morning sunlight. Apart from the weather, navigation challenges, slips and stumbles, you have to eat, drink and…you know… These all bring highs and lows in the journey, but the words of support from family or sponsors go through your mind plus those of other racers or the race crew to spur you on. My real secret weapon in my mind when things got tough, was Molly.
Reflections: People say that they could never do anything like this. Well, I disagree. You can do mental or physical challenges like these or a small percentage of one of them, you just don’t know it yet. My three steps to building up to it are: Step 1: Put your trainers on; Step 2: Open the front door and walk through it; Step 3: Breath in, and take the first step, keep going till you arrive back at the door. Be bold, you’ll be amazed how you improve, how good you feel, and you may be able to help someone, if not yourself, by doing it.
Thanks to all who have donated which has raised £2,300 this year for SMA Support UK (£8,400 including last year’s 24 Munro’s). My Just Giving page will close soon at https://www.justgiving.com/Mark-Hartree1/. If this is not available, try http://www.smasupportuk.org.uk/donate