Former Borders doctor Andrew Murray is set to run across East Africa in a bid to discover the secret of local runners’ success.
The endurance athlete will start the extreme challenge with former Marine Commando Donnie Campbell on Monday (July 1).
The pair will scale Mt Kenya and Africa’s highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro and run with world-record holders and world champions during the expedition.
For Andrew’s aim is to find out what the East African athletes do to be the best endurance athletes in the world. He hopes to use the information to help Scottish middle and long-distance runners ahead of this year’s World Athletics Championships and next summer’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The 18-day mission will take place at an altitude consistently above the height of Ben Nevis. And the pair will be running more than an ultramarathon (50km) a day.
Andrew, who works as a general practitioner, as well as a sports and exercise medicine doctor with the sportscotland institute of sport, said: “There is no better way to find out what makes these athletes so fast, than to spend time in their company and take on some of the biggest challenges East Africa has to offer.
“It’s all about learning from Africa: 66 of the best 100 marathon runners in the world are from Kenya – is this due to the training regime, genetic factors, the food that is eaten, the altitude, or other factors? We aim to find out what lessons we can learn from the Kenyans’ incredible success and then apply those to help Scottish high performance athletes.”
Andrew will spend the first five days acclimatising. The run begins on the July 5 in the Kenyan Highlands. The pair will climb the 5,000m Mt Kenya in a day, run the Lewis glacier, through the Great Rift Valley and towards Lake Bogoria and head to Iten, the capital of distance running and home to the High Altitude Training Camp where he and many world and Olympic champions will be training. They will run Kilimanjaro from base to summit in a day.
They will run more than 1,000km and climb over 120,000 feet, more than four times the height of Mt Everest. They will burn 7,000 calories a day and run on terrain ranging from glaciers to desert to mountains.
Now living in Edinburgh, Andrew, a former doctor at Galashiels and Hawick health centres and Borders General Hospital, grew up in Kenya but did not start running long distance until his late 20s.
He shot to fame in 2011 when he ran 4,290km from John O’Groats to the Sahara desert. The following year he won the North Pole Marathon, the Antarctic Ice Marathon, and completed a world record seven ultra-marathons on seven continents in under a week.
The pair are raising money for the African Palliative Care Association (www.justgiving.com/RunningHighAfrica) and hope to take 500 pairs of trainers out with them to give to runners.
Anyone with old but useable trainers should take them to Footworks, 14 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh.