Jez B I'm following if only for that awesome achievement in your profile alone. Many congratulations.
On Sunday 19th June, 26 year, Donnie Campbell arrived in Portree Square to a crowd of 200 plus well-wishers after being the 1st person ever to run 184 miles (equivalent to 7 marathons) from Glasgow to Skye in an incredible time of 44 hours and 30 min. Donnie completed this amazing challenge to raise money for Skye Cancer Care, which its main aim is to establish and improve palliative care on Skye.
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Maria G encouraged this.
Garth M Hi Donnie - I bet you loved that Highland Fling. Phenomenal effort on the 184 truly extraordinary.
Hideki S encouraged this.
Eunice Y encouraged this.
Irfan Q encouraged this.
Pamela O encouraged this.
Kevan J Just getting into Ultra running (doing the Wall next month - 70 miles). Looking to learn as much as possible... Great to read about your amazing efforts.
Rab L Donnie, cracking wright up of your epic run.
Did I see your name on the Clydestride entry? if so see you Saturday
Donnie C “I decided to go for a Little Run” (184 Miles!)
As I ran into Fort William on Saturday night to complete the West Highland Way race, in a respectable time of 22 Hours 34 Min, I had to keep reminding myself that this was not the finish line. Far from it! I had another 89 miles still to run and the first 95 miles was the easy bit. I could not believe how fresh I felt considering I had spent my last 22 hours on my feet. I could not help but think that everything was going to plan and if I could hold it together I would make it to Portree by midnight Sunday. I left Fort William on Saturday at midnight trying to convince myself that running 89 miles in just over 24 hours was easy!
After the first few miles out of Fort William my mind started to wonder and I started to think how I got into this situation of attempting to run 184 miles in under 48 hours. I got the idea for this run after completing the West Highland Way race the previous year. I remember waking up on the Sunday morning and hearing congratulation messages on the local radio, Cuillin FM, and could not help but think of the other runners still trying to get in before the 35 hour cut off. I thought to myself that it must take a lot of mental strength to run through a 2nd night and be on your feet for 35 hours. I wondered if I had the mental toughness to do that. I knew I could run the West Highland Way quite comfortably in under 24 hours so I would have to run a longer distance. The route that stood out for me was Glasgow to Skye, as I am originally from Skye but live in Glasgow so it would just be like a wee run home! The route itself was a bit trickier to decide on. The first bit was obvious, I would run the West Highland Way Race to Fort William. I then sat and deliberated over three options. Run the road to Kyle and run over the bridge to Skye? This was the longest option as I wanted to finish my run in my home town of Portree which is situated in the middle of the Island. Attempt some cross country running from Fort William to Skye? This made sense as I am not a lover of the tarmac but after a lot of map studying I could not find a clear path through the mountains. Take the shortest and easiest option by running the road to Mallaig, getting a boat over to Skye and making a quick 43 mile dash to Portree? I put my sensible hat on and decided to take the third option. So there it was the challenge, run from Glasgow to Skye, 184 miles in under 48 hours, all there was left to do was train!
The week leading up to the start of my run was fairly relaxed but I struggled to focus on any thing apart from my run. All that kept going through my mind was had I put enough training in? Did I taper too soon and lost a bit of fitness? Can I cope with being awake for 48 hours? And do I have all the kit I need? As I was due to start my run at 01:00 on Saturday 18th June, I spent all of Friday in my bed but did not really sleep as the excitement was starting to build. I just lay there with my eyes closed trying not to move in order to save as much energy as possible for my run. My support crew, Donnie Nicolson and Robert Holding, came to my flat about 22:00 to pick me up and load up the support van. They gave me a bit of stick for the amount off food I had for the 2 days, I had covered just about every possible food craving!!
We arrived at the start line at Milngavie train station about 23:00 and I went and registered for the race and then spent the last hour and a bit before the start of the race lying down in the back of the van listening to my IPod. At this point I started to feel the pressure I had put on myself. BBC Alba were covering the run and I had told so many people what I was planning and if I failed to reach Portree I would look like a failure (and my Dad would be right). It was after a long training run in February that I was on the phone to my Dad and he told me what I was trying was physically impossible and I would never do it in a million years. This just motivated me even more to be successful as I hate it when he is correct. I just kept telling myself I have put the hard training in and I have the miles in the legs to get to Portree. As the start of the race approached my head was a total mess and I even started making my way to the start line with out my head torch, if it was not for my support crew who called me back, I would have started the race without a head torch.
As soon as the race started my mind sharpened on my body and the task in hand and all my worries and fears were pushed to the side. By the time I reached the actual Way I knew I was going to reach Portree as all the wee niggles I was feeling during my tapering had gone and I was feeling the fittest I have ever done. The first 20 miles were uneventful, I just settled into my stride trying to avoid the puddles and keep my feet dry for as long as possible. I had to keep reminding myself not to do anything stupid like get into a race with someone. I got talking to the runner beside me and ran most of the way to Balmaha with Bob Steel and Debbie Consani which help make the first 20 miles pass in no time.
This is where I met my support crew for the first time, I had requested a jam sandwich but when I arrived I found that Robert had put butter on my jam sandwich, big mistake! As it was early on in the run I decided to let it slide but told Robert in the future no butter. The next bit to Rowardennan where I was going to meet my support crew again was quiet lonely as I did not meet many other runners in this section. It was at this check point that it was Donnie turn to see if he can make the perfect jam sandwich, it has to be spread evenly all the way to side and not to little and not to much jam and defiantly no butter! He made a good job of it as I ate the whole lot.
The next section to Auchintyre Farm was going to be the longest with out seeing my support crew I decided to take my iPod. As I was pacing myself for 184 miles the first 70 miles were fairly easy and uneventful I was just enjoying the scenery and the company of the other runners. As I approached the Glencoe ski centre checkpoint the weather had deteriorated and I was getting cold as I was running well within my self which meant I was not producing as much body heat as normal when I run, so I decided to take longer here to put dry cloths on and have something hot to eat. As I left the Ski centre I was happy again I was feeling really strong and I was warm again.
As I climbed over the devil staircase and start the steep decent into Kinlochleven I started to pass runners who were feeling the miles and there pace was slowing down, I wished them luck as I went past still feeling unbelievably fresh for the miles I had covered. From Kinlochleven it was 14 miles over the hill to Fort William, the previous year I injured myself at this stage and had to walk this entire section which I hated. There was no chance of a repeat this year as I was still full energy and strolled into Fort William quiet comfortably just as darkness fell.
When I arrived in Fort William I had to stay focused and switched on, as even thou I had finished the West Highland Way Race, I was still only just over half way from my finish line in Portree. I had some hot food here and put on my high vis jacket for the 2nd night of running to Mallaig, I also took my first bit of caffeine in 3 weeks and I bounced out the van totally buzzing. I always new the section from Fort William to Mallaig would be the hardest section and it did not disappoint.
My Fist stop after Fort William was the very last street light in Corpach, I reached this stop fairly quickly still on a caffeine high, running about 10 min miles. It was here that a police car passed us and stops to inquire what we were up to. I enquired what the road was like to Mallaig and was it safe, as I have only ever driven the road once before. He informed us it was a safe road but dark with a lot of dear, I though that’s ok, as I don’t think I would be travelling at any sort speed that I would run over a deer! But then he went on to inform us that there is good chance of drunk driver’s out in the stick. This confused me and the support crew as how can a road be fairly safe but have drunk drivers on it!
As I left Corpach and the safety of the pavement and street lights, I told the support crew to sit behind me to stop any cars running me down in the dark. The plan was to run 6 miles and then stop again. After about an hour in 15 min I got the van to pull along side me and I asked the support crew how far I had run from the last stop. I thought I was running 10 min miles and I would have covered more than 6 miles. I was shocked and annoyed when they informed I had just ran over 5 miles, I told them to pull in at the next parking place as I was stopping there. When we stopped I had only ran 5.5 miles from the last stop and taken me well over an hour. As I got into the back of the van I lost it and started swearing and cursing myself out loud for not being able to run 10 min miles, this tantrum lasted for a few min and was the first sign of the miles and lack off sleep taking its toll. Once I calmed down I told the support crew that I will run 6 miles and stop again for another break to take food on.
This time when I started running again I took a note of the time and really concentrated on running 10 min miles, after another hour of running I came along side the van window to find out how far I had ran. I was sure I had ran about 6 miles this time but was shocked when they said I had only done 4 miles, this convinced me that the van’s mileage gauge was broken and I was right and proceed to have an argument with my support crew about the millage and my pace. Alan Palmer who joined the support team on Saturday evening said my pace had picked up over the last half mile, I snapped again and informed him yeah that’s because the last half mile has been down hill. I eventually calmed down a bit and asked Alan as how far away was I from Glen Fininan as he knew this road quiet well. He informed me it was about 2 miles away, so I focussed and picked the pace up considerably probably running 8.30 min miles to Glenfinnan just to prove to my self I could still run a mile under 10 min.
I stopped there for Breakfast and refocus, I had another 25 miles to Mallaig so I said to the team I will do 4 sections of 6.2 miles and that will get me into Mallaig. They seemed happy with this plan and looked a bit relieved that I was starting to really focus on the task in hand again and not want to argue over the millage and my pace! As the sun had came up and it was bright I told the support crew to drive on 6.2 miles so they can get some breakfast and have some time to chill out after driving behind me all night.
I left Glenfinnan with a new intensity knowing I had only 25 miles to Mallaig and I was ahead of schedule with the worst part behind me. I really focused and was determine to run the next 6 miles in an hour, I pushed hard up the long hill out of Glenfinnan and for the next 6 miles I battled hard to keep my pace up. I had start shouting at the top of my voice motivational phrase like “come on keep going! Man up! Grow a set!” I do this when I get physically and mentally tired on long runs as it helps me keep focus and maintain my pace. It was at this point when I was in mid rant to myself an old lady in a car was passing me and obviously could here my shouts and stopped and offered me a lift to Mallaig, I refused saying I was running to Skye, but she insisted that she was going to Mallaig any way and it s no problem to give me a lift. So I tried to explain to her that I had run from Glasgow and was running to Skye and could not accept a lift. She looked very confused and just drove off. I reached the van in an hour but I was totally shattered I finally realised and accepted that the miles had taken its toll on me and I was no longer able to run 10 min mile pace.
I set of to run the next 6 miles at a more comfortable pace knowing it will take me about an hour and 20 min now to run 6 miles. It was at this point I could finally work out what time I would reach Mallaig, I decided if I run the next 18 miles with out stopping and refuel on the go I would be in Mallaig for 11:00 so I could bring my rib crossing forward an hour and my support van could get the 10:30 ferry. As I arrived in to the next checkpoint I told the team the plan and what I wanted to happen. I got the kit together that I would need for the next 12 miles and gave it to Robert who would cycle beside me while Donnie and Alan went ahead with the van to catch the ferry.
I was back running with in 5 min and I had 2 ½ hours to run the next 12 miles to Mallaig, I thought this would be plenty time as I was still moving at about 12 ½ min miles but my feet and knees were starting to hurt and paracetamol was not touching the pain. With about 7 miles to Mallaig the pain in my feet were excruciating, every time my foot hit the ground I could feel tears building up in my eye’s this with the pain from my knees when running down hill was unbearable. I had to stop and lie down at the side of the road just to relieve the pain for a few minutes. This went on for the next 7 miles to Mallaig, I would run for 10 min then I would have to lie down for a few min just to relieve the pain, I also took to running on the grassy verge when ever possible just to get a bit more cushioning when my foot hit the ground.
I arrived in Mallaig bang on 11:00 but I was in a bad way I could hardly walk never mind run with the pain in my feet, I boarded the rib and laid down on deck with my feet elevated to try and reduce the swelling in my feet. For the next 15 min while we crossed the sound of Sleat I laid there with me feet still throbbing with pain thinking how am I going to get to Portree as I can not take much more of this pain. This was my lowest point I had no idea how I was going to get to Portree as I could barely walk from the pain in my feet. Even at this low point quitting never came into my mind, all I could think about, was how was I going to get running again. I came up with a plan when I get of the Rib I am going to put my feet in a ice bath take a stronger pain killer, rest for an hour with me feet elevated and have some lunch.
Thankfully this plan worked as I left Armadale I could run again the pain in my feet were still there but it was bearable. I was joined at this point by James MacInness who had tracked my progress on facebook and wanted to run a wee bit with me. I enjoyed his company as it took my mind off the pace and it was great to have someone else set the pace as I just tucked in beside him not having to worry about my speed. The first 6 miles out of Armadale seem to pass quickly and I was at my next checkpoint in no time. I had a new routine when I got into my checkpoint the first priority was pain management of my feet so it was trainers off and feet straight in to an ice bath then my 2nd priority was hydration and food.
As I set of to do another 6 miles with James beside me I was still averaging about 12 ½ min miles and I knew I was going to make Portree under 48 hours and the pressure I felt at Mallaig of wondering if I was going to make Portree in 48 hours had lifted and I could just enjoy the Sunday afternoon sunshine. Half way through this section David, Nui and Hugh came down from Portree to join me, Nui and David on bikes tucked in behind me and Hugh on foot joined me at the front with James. This gave me another boost just at the right time as I had a long steady climb up from Kinloch, with Hugh and James setting the pace we breezed up the long climb to my next stop where I said by to James. My feet were still bothering me so it was again another ice bath for the feet to try and reduce the swelling and relieve the pain.
The next 6 miles would take me past Broadford from where I would only have one marathon left to run. It was at this point David, Nui and Hugh decided they would stay with me to Portree, even thou at the time I did not let on but I was really happy with that decision I was dreading them going and being on my own again. I stopped just past Broadford for some dinner and another foot ice bath. It was at this point my support crew start asking me for a time I hope to reach Portree, I struggled to give them an answer as I was unsure if I could keep up 12 ½ min mile pace as my feet were still hurting.
I set off again to run another 6 miles but something did not feel right, my head was all over the place the pain in my feet were getting worse again and I was struggle to hold onto my pace. After only 3 miles I turned round to my support team and said I had to stop at the next lay by. As soon as the van stopped I jumped into the back of it and put my feet straight into the ice, I knew I could walk the rest of way to Portree and still finish in under 48 hours but I did not want to do this as I set out wanting to run most of it. I had a word with Robert who recommended I put my iPod on and just focus on running again and don’t worry about the people that were running with as by this point Robert and ABC had joined me as well. I stepped out the van apologised to every one that I would not be much company for the next wee while and put my iPod on turned the volume up full and started to run again.
I rediscovered my focus and enter a zone that words could not describe but every thing was blocked out and I was concentrating 100% on running. For the next 3 miles my paced picked up (I was later to find out it was 7 ½ min mile pace) and I was unaware of anyone around me and distance I was just running in the moment not worrying about how far I had to go or how far I had run. I had finally found the true meaning to one of my favourite quotes.
“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we have dreamed ourselves to own; source of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstructions” Christopher McDougall, Born to Run
I heard some one shout that I had just run another 3 miles and did I want to stop I said no as I was in the zone. As I came up to Druim na cleochd the last steep climb (about 1 mile) every one thought I was going to walk up it as that’s what I said I was going to do back in Broadford but I was running with what felt like endless energy. I put the head down and just ran the hill hard as if I was in a race and the finish was at the top. As I approached the top of the hill still unaware of who was beside me I decided to stop at the summit to refuel. To my amusement when I stopped at the top I was informed I had dropped ABC on the hill and had to jump into the support van and David on his bike had to grab onto the side of vehicle and get towed up!
It was at this point I became aware that there was going to be some sort of welcome home when I got to Portree as Donnie was concerned I was going to fast and I would be in Portree before 21:30! I promised I would slow down for the last 15 miles and not be in Portree before 21:30.
I stepped back on the road relaxed knowing I had just about made it home, as I ran through Sconser people started to come out of there house and cheer me on, this felt amazing and I started to joke with my friends again who were still running and cycling beside me. As I came out of Sconser I started to wobble again the pain in my feet were getting worse again so I took a quick stop to put my feet in ice again and take some painkillers. I decided here that I was going to run the last 11 miles to Portree with out stopping for another break.
The last 11 miles passed quickly as I enjoyed the banter of every one that was running and cycling with me, the group got bigger and bigger as I got closer to Portree and I started to feel like Forest Gump. Also as I got closer to the finish more and more people were lining the lay by’s cheering me on this spurred me on and made me realise the enormity of the challenge I have just done.
With about a mile and half to go I looked at my watch and realise if I pick up my pace I could finish in 44 ½ hours. So I turn around to every one behind me and explained what I was going to do, I turned back and took a deep breath and picked up the pace and focused again for the very last time. The adrenalin was starting to pump through my legs as I rounded the corner into Portree there was a crowd to cheer me in. I stopped for a quick photo beside the welcome to Portree sign then I turned back on the road for the last mile into the square. By this point my body was running on pure adrenalin and I was giving everything I had left and I was motoring the crowd that cheered me into the Village were struggling to keep up. As I approached the square I was still running flat out, adrenalin flowing to every part of my body realising I had conquered my dream. I turned a corner and got my first sight of the finish line and I was blown away there was about 300 people cheering me on which I was not expecting as I thought most of the people that came to cheer me in were still behind me trying to keep up!
As I turned into the square crowds on both side of me clapping and cheering I raised my arms up in the air and looked to the sky as I cross the finish line struggling to believe what I have just achieved, 184 miles in 44 ½ hours. I cross the line and turn 180 to see every one cheering me on and soak up the applause, my parents rush to congratulate me. Then I am presented with a bottle of champagne from Skye Cancer Care the charity I was raising money for, so there was only one think left to do, and that was to spray the crowd!
I would like to thank every one that supported me and donated to Skye Cancer Care, also to every one that came out to cheer me into Portree that memory will live with me for the rest of my life. I also like to thank my friends who gave up there Sunday afternoon to run with me and most importantly a special Thanks to my support team Donnie Nicolson, Robert Holding and Alan Palmer, with out them I would not have made it to that start line never mind Portree.
Donnie C Done this last month I ran 184 miles home to Skye from Glasgow, it took me 44 hours and 30 min. my Mum was anoyed as i did not make it home in time for Dinner!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jenna A encouraged this.
Donnie C Ok looking for a new challenge to work towards for 2013/2014. It's got to be original and preferably something no one has done before but most importantly its got to be difficult verging on impossible!! Any suggestion?