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Last weekend runner David Black achieved his long held ambition running the 56 miles around the entire island to mark his 56th birthday.
Starting and and finishing at Lagg, Dave didn’t tell anyone in advance as he didn’t think he was going to be able to complete it, and he nearly didn’t as he struggled a lot towards the end.
He is well-known on the island for his running and this has been his goal for nearly 20 years now. His aim was to complete it in under 10 hours and it took him 9 hours 17 minutes.
Here is Dave’s remarkable story of the run in his own words.
‘I’ve lived on Arran for 37 years and I still remember the sponsored walk round Arran that took place back in the mid-80s. I’ve wanted to run round Arran ever since I started running about 20 years ago. My hours were reduced at CalMac this winter because of the Covid lockdown so I seized my opportunity to train harder than normal with my extra free time.
‘I ran every day all winter and racked up some quite serious mileage to prepare. I just couldn’t resist the lure of running the 56 miles around Arran on my 56th year. 56@56! It has a nice ring to it, like it’s just, well, “supposed to be”. I didn’t tell anyone when I planned to try my 56 mile run as I thought that the odds were stacked quite high against me completing it. Two-and-a-bit marathons on a hilly island, an old guy with arthritic knees.
‘I decided to attempt the challenge on Good Friday as there was a good forecast and I was allowed to take a holiday day at work. I had intended to run along with fellow 57 year old Arran Runner Mike Mellor the previous weekend but the weather was foul and we aborted the idea.
‘On the day the run went well for the first 35 miles. Empty roads, and it was still and sunny. Thereafter, inevitably, things became harder. My quads started to seize up and the sunny weather was overheating me. In fact I think I got sunstroke towards the end. I was really struggling. Hairs standing on end and pins and needles in my hands. My run pace eventually declined and I thought that I might not finish.
‘Luckily, Neil May had just heard that I’d been seen trying to complete the run, and he jumped in his car, caught up and followed me for the last few miles. I was grateful for this. I thought that I may capitulate entirely if I became any worse, and he shouted encouragement. I think the following demonstrates the toll that the task had taken on me….about a mile from the end I finally realised that I was going to finish and I actually started sobbing while I was running for a minute. I’ve never done that before!
‘When I finished, Pete Bowers from The Lagg 1791/Velo Cafe saw me and appeared with a bottle of bubbly and some kind words. A perfect end. The run took me 9 hours and 17 minutes in the end, although I also stopped for 31 minutes in total for bathroom breaks and to get food and drink.
‘It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I consider it to be the greatest achievement of my life. I won’t be doing it twice though, lol and my attempts at getting up and down the stairs afterwards were laughable. Sally the teenage Westie always gets carried upstairs to bed and this made the task much harder, but we made it eventually. I probably should’ve just abandoned the idea altogether and slept in the lounge.’
Dave celebrates at the end of his marathon run round Arran. NO_B15run01
Dave ensured he had plenty of water for the run. NO_B15run02
A long straight road stretches out before Dave. NO_B15run03
The end is in sight as Dave makes his way back into Lagg. NO_B15run04
Dave shows his relief at the end of the run. NO_B15run05