Taking stock helps Borders runner Anna break record for coast-to-coast run
A record-breaking Borders runner credits taking stock for the endurance that enabled her to run more than 200 miles in two and a half days, stopping only for 90 minutes’ worth of naps.
And that’s literally taking stock, as in cubes of the cooking ingredient, rather than weighing up a situation prior to deciding how best to proceed.
Mum-of-two Anna Rutherford smashed the female record for running the 216-mile Southern Upland Way from the Irish Sea to the North Sea by over 17 hours.
The 38-year-old covered the coast-to-coast route from Portpatrick in Dumfries and Galloway to Cockburnspath in Berwickshire in 62 hours and 34 minutes, munching on stock cubes to keep her energy up en route.
Anna completed that challenge just nine months after giving birth to her second child, Ella, though she did end up urinating blood and vomiting as she pushed her body to its limit.
She trained for the challenge in August last year by doing hill runs of up to 80 miles around the Borders, starting only two weeks after having Ella in an effort to get fit again.
Anna, of Eddleston, near Peebles, started her multiple-marathon challenge at 5am on Thursday, April 29, and finished at 7.30pm on Saturday, May 1, accompanied by a group of fellow long-distance running enthusiasts.
She only stopped for naps for an hour and a half in total, in 11-minute stints, during her run.
It wasn’t only stock cubes that spurred her on, though, as she says she was also inspired by photos of her children, two-year-old son Kit as well as daughter Ella, sent to her by husband Neil, 49, and also by pop hits of yesteryear including Reach by S Club 7, a No 2 hit in 2000.
Anna, a lawyer in Edinburgh, said: “I had unfinished business as I had a race I was meant to do on this route two years back, but then I found out I was expecting Kit.
“I also just wanted to show my kids that anyone can achieve their dreams.
"I'm nobody special, just a mum who likes going for a run, so I was inspired to give this a go.
“I started training two weeks after Ella was born. I was running 100 miles a week up hills around the Borders and doing pilates.
“It was difficult with two young kids. My husband Neil was amazing and he sacrificed so much to help me on this journey.
"The hardest bit was struggling with my body breaking down. You can’t train for that.
“I started peeing blood, I was swaying and seeing double, I picked up eye infections, I was puking, my tongue was peeling off.
“My body was screaming at me ‘what are you doing?’.
“Just keep moving was all I was thinking. That’s what I kept saying to myself.
“My motivation was wanting to be back at home with the kids.
“I was averaging about three miles an hour.
“My body completely broke down, but my legs were still moving.
“During times on the run when I was struggling, I would text Neil and ask him to send me a picture of the kids.”
She struggled to eat during the run, only consuming 2,000 calories despite burning more than 25,000, and that, she says, is where taking stock paid off.
“I was being quite sick, but because I was running and sweating I needed to replace the electrolytes, and I needed salt,” she recalled.
“My friend Lucy Colquhoun said try this, and it was a crushed-up stock cube. As it is pure concentrated salt, it seemed to reset my stomach and made a huge difference.
“It settled my stomach and helped restore my electrolytes and encouraged me to drink water.”
“There were plenty of food supplies but I just couldn’t eat.
“It's certainly not the diet of choice.
“Who knows, maybe I will get a sponsorship deal out of this, or maybe even a lifetime supply?"
The Ultra Great Britain club runner is grateful for the support she received along the way, including from the woman whose record she broke.
The previous record for the route of 79 hours and 46 minutes was set by Rosie Bell, of Strathaven in South Lanarkshire, in 2019.
She had a team of friends to support her along the way, including Staffordshire’s Jack Scott, holder of the men's record for the route, 55 hours and 42 minutes.
“The friends and family supporting me really did all the work. I just had to keep running, walking and crawling until the finish line,” said Anna.
“I started running back in 2010 when I was 27. To achieve this is just amazing, but I can’t take any of the credit.
“It was all about the team. The group of runners who came with me are all close friends of mine, and they really drove me through this.
“My husband sacrificed so much, and my family was the inspiration.
"Someone came up to me and said they saw what I was doing on Twitter and asked to run the final mile with me. It was like a scene from Forrest Gump.
“Everyone has been so great after. I came back to 751 WhatsApp messages, and Rosie Bell sent me a message saying congratulations on beating her record.
“I'm just so happy to have inspired my kids and shown them anything is possible.
“I felt broken and exhausted at the end but also the whole thing was just incredibly rewarding.
“It’s up there with how I felt after childbirth.
“I only gave birth to Ella nine months ago and there are so many parallels with having a baby.
“You’re exhausted, you don’t know what’s going on and you’re pushing your body to extremes but it feels amazing.
“It meant a lot to finish, and to break the record because if I, a normal mum with two kids, can do something like that, then anyone can, and I was determined to show Ella and Kit that having dreams and fulfilling them is possible.”
Anna said she held off from listening to music until near the end of her journey as she knew that would be when she needed it most, S Club 7 and Queen being among the artists that kept her going as the finishing line loomed.
“I am 38 years old but I confess Reach was one of the songs I really needed,” she said.
Anna said one of the hardest parts of the challenge was not seeing her children as that was the longest she had ever been without them.
“I’d never had a night without them and it made me so emotional,” she recounted.
“Neil met me at two points on the run with the children, which helped so much.
“Whenever I was feeling low and exhausted, I asked the team supporting me to get Neil to send pictures of Ella and Kit to show me.”