FOUR and a half million steps, 200 bananas and more than three gallons of custard – this is what it took Borders GP Andrew Murray to complete his amazing Scotland to Sahara challenge, writes Dylan Howel.
And now the story of the international run by former Galashiels and Borders General Hospital doctor has been broadcast.
Andrew completed his 101-marathon challenge in 77 days, eight hours – beating his estimate of 85 days.
A BBC film crew followed his progress every step of the way and the programme about his achievement was aired last Sunday.
More than 1,000 people joined Andrew at events along the way to encourage him and to promote healthy living.
Andrew started his run on November 8 – during one of the worst British winters on record – and finished in late January in the sweltering Sahara. During the run Andrew battled an Achilles tendon injury and knee problems.
He said: “Words can’t describe how happy I was to reach the Sahara.
“Each day was tough and there were only six days where I wasn’t carrying an injury of some description. I never seriously considered giving up but at times I was close to tears with pain.”
Andrew is a GP and sports doctor in Lothian and Borders, and is no stranger to the Sahara climate – he won the Sahara Race in 2007.
Andrew aims to raise £100,000 for the Yamaa Trust – whose sole aim is to end poverty in Mongolia – and so far has raised £70,000.
Andrew found time to appreciate the scenery and see the world from a different perspective.
“The scenery from the West Highland Way in Scotland to the Pyrenees in Spain and the High Atlas mountains in Morocco was astounding and these views worked well as painkillers,” said Andrew.
“Sharing the experience with friends and family in the support crew was a huge part of the challenge, as was the motivation of getting home for my wedding.”
Recently married to his partner, Jennie, he added: “I’m glad to be back in Scotland, able to watch the football and have Irn Bru on tap, but I am always looking for the next challenge.
“Keeping fit and active is one of the big challenges of our age and I’m really encouraged to hear of so many people increasing exercise levels and to see the fundraising total over the £70,000 mark for the Yamaa Trust.”
Andrew is writing a book documenting his various runs – available in August – with a foreword by adventurer and explorer Ranulph Fiennes. He will make an appearance at the Melrose Book Festival in June.
He recently received the Yamaa Outstanding Achievement Award for his charity work and has been nominated for the JCI Top Young Scot Award.
To donate to Andrew’s cause, visit www.scotland2sahara.com