Running, music, and the Scottish mountains - three things I reach for when I want to relax or reflect, so when the opportunity arises to combine all three, there is only one answer – where’s the start line. And so begins the Mhor Trilogy.
I spend a lot of time with family in the town of Callander, set in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. In recent years, a local business, Mhor, has collaborated with a fitness organisation, Tay Fitness, to create a series of runs throughout this iconic setting. For 2018, a new set of events, a 10K, half marathon and marathon, were collectively defined as the Mhor Trilogy. It’s actually a really smart way to collect some medals, as while you train for a marathon, you naturally surpass both of the shorter distances, so to make them into events, it really helps with your focus to achieve the marathon distance and collect medals on the way – it’s why I do them!
Only 100 places were allocated for the entire Trilogy. Finisher medals for Trilogy runners from each event piece together to create a unique interlocking single medal (pictured). The 10K was effectively 2km on the flat, followed by a 4km hill climb to 800ft and back down again - Scotland is renowned for its mountains! That was in April – all good. The half marathon was in June, on what was the only wet day of Summer 2018 – but the cooler, sodden conditions, helped me get inside my target time of 2h15m.
So, marathon day.
Now, when I signed up to the Trilogy last December, I anticipated cool summer evenings to do my training runs – who would have believed the temperatures we’ve enjoyed – or if you’re running – endured. The summer has been fabulous, but it definitely stretched me in getting the training runs in. I reached 16 miles distance in training, rather than my target 21 (out of a total of 26.2 miles on race day). Anyone who was speaking to me in the lead up, also knows I was trying to protect my ageing knee, and frankly, in my private moments, I really didn’t know if I’d get to the start. But with great support, to the start I went, and as soon as the klaxon sounded, it was fantastic. The total incline across the 26.2 miles was about 2,200ft. As we reached mile 21, I felt I had climbed it all, my target time was on, and I was about to embark on the only part of the route that I had never run before. Pre-race information was ‘light’ on this section, and all I can remember now is going up hill after hill after hill. My average pace soon started to slow! The final water stop at mile 24 was sponsored by Go Ape, complete with someone dressed as a gorilla – which left everyone thinking they had been hallucinating! Still to come was the most unique part, a river crossing, at mile 26. This was a 30 metre crossing, with some fabulous volunteers pulling us across on boats! As I descended to the river bank, I thought I was seeing things again – a Pimm’s tent – yes, indeed it was, a glass of Pimm’s for runners to have a wee celebration while on the boat for a few seconds, before the final half mile to the finish! Have I made marathon running sound appealing?
I finished – very happy with my time of 5h36m17s – an ice cold bath, massage, and plenty food later – and yes, I will do more marathons!
Now you probably think I’ve been running all my life – well, I first pulled on a pair of trainers, and put one foot in front of the other, 10 years ago, age 38. This was following my eldest son, Duncan, being treated by Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and as a family we started fundraising by doing the Great Manchester Run – Duncan ran the marathon too – finishing only 6 minutes ahead of me!
So if I can do it, what’s stopping you? I remember the trepidation of my very first parkrun (now completed 191). I also remember running the Great Manchester 10K for the very first time – and spending the rest of that day exhausted, unable to move, but with a glow and feeling of elation that nobody ever takes away from you.
Like anything, running is a habit, and for me, a really enjoyable one. My wife and I are now parkrun tourists, planning weekends away to take in a new parkrun, experiencing new places. I enjoy stretching myself with new goals – not about beating anyone else, simply about achieving the goals I set for myself. Focus on you, and you’ll be amazed at what’s possible when you look back at those first nervous steps.
I can’t wait to do the Bury 10K – a brand new run for me. I also can’t wait to make new friends, and seeing smiling faces reflecting in shiny medals. It never gets any less satisfying.
Follow this link to see details of our page; the Persona 10k team is raising funds for Bleakholt Animal Sanctuary.
If you'd like to read more about the team challenge, click .