AFTER Robert Thomson’s younger brother died suddenly from heart failure aged just 39 in the spring of last year, the Lauder-based builder decided to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation.
Robert says running a marathon was the first idea. “But it was a challenge I was after,” he said. “So the thought of running alongside all the canals in Scotland was a very exciting idea.”
In January, he started training for the Scottish Canal Challenge and it was not easy. “I ran three miles that day and was gasping for air afterwards. I slowly built up my miles by running one night and resting the next.
“My older brother Alan started training as well, after offering to run parts of the challenge with me.”
On, May 26, the runners started at Inverness to cover the 60-odd miles along the Caledonian Canal to Fort William.
Three days later, after coping with temperatures of 28C, Robert and Alan headed for Argyll and the Crinan Canal. From Crinan village to Lochgilphead is 8.5 miles. After that they drove to Dumbarton to start the Forth and Clyde Canal, covering, seven miles at night.
But the Wednesday was a disaster. “Having run for about an hour and ending up in an industrial area with the canal coming to an abrupt end, it turned out we had missed the junction for Falkirk,” explained Robert.
“Once we were back on track, we arrived that afternoon at the Falkirk Wheel – 31 miles in total for that day.”
The Union Canal was next, and the two men ran from the Falkirk Wheel to the heart of Edinburgh.
They covered 24 miles on the Thursday which left an easy nine miles for the Friday morning.
Robert said: “Alan didn’t run parts of the challenge after all – he ran the whole challenge, amassing 143 miles in seven days.
“Mind you, he said he was sick of seeing the back of me. We had a great week and we can’t thank everybody enough for their support before, during and after the challenge.
“But mostly we would like to thank the people who have donated almost £3,000 for the British Heart Foundation.”