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Kristian runs John Muir Way non-stop

Written by Fiona

December 30 2019

Some people will go to great lengths to burn off the Christmas calories but few will have gone as far as ultra runner Kristian Delacour.

The 50-year-old athlete from Carluke saw off 16,000 calories when he completed a run from Helensburgh on Scotland’s west coast to Dunbar on the east coast this weekend.

Following the John Muir Way long-distance trail as closely as possible, Kristian ran 131.5 miles non-stop and unsupported.

He started at 9.57am on December 27 and finished 29 hours and 29 minutes later. He did not stop to sleep.

It is believed to be the FKT (Fastest Known Time) for this route and only one other person is previously thought to have attempted to run the long-distance trail non-stop. In April 2015, Mark Horne managed 10 hours on the route before stopping due to (unexplained) illness.

Kristian, who was recovering at home today, admits he’s not sure he would do the route again although he is delighted to have finished.

He said: “It was harder than I thought it would be. In fact, it was tougher than the last time I ran across Scotland and that was the 220-mile Race Across Scotland. I am a great deal more broken.”

It was the harder surfaces that Kristian found so challenging. He said: “The John Muir Way has about 100 miles of tarmac and that made it much harder for me, compared to the trail running that I usually prefer.”

Kristian runs across Scotland.

Why run across Scotland?

Kristian set himself the JMW challenge between Christmas and New year “just because”. He said: “I was looking for a long distance training run as I build up to a number of races this year. For example, I am running the Cape Wrath Ultra in May.

“I spotted the John Muir Way and I started to wonder what it would be like to run the full length. So I decided to simply do it.”

Kristian is no stranger to ultra running. He took up running in late 2015 and has only ever run ultra races. One of his first events was the notoriously tough Marathon des Sables. 

He said: “I have always liked to run longer distances and I enjoy the challenge of seeing how far I can go.”

Also see: List of Scottish Ultra Races 2020.

Sights en route including the Falkirk Wheel.
The bridges across the Forth.

What is the John Muir Way?

The John Muir Way is one of Scotland’s Great Trails and offers walkers, runners and cyclists a route from west coast to east coast. 

The official distance is 134 miles, linking Helensburgh with Dunbar, which is the birthplace of John Muir, also known as America’s “father of national parks”.

The route includes some off-road trails, a long stretch of canal towpaths and tarmac paths. It has around 3500m of total ascent.

Kristian did not always find it easy to source food along the JMW.

Running the John Muir Way

Kristian, who ran through 14 hours of darkness, said: “There were some nice parts to this route, especially the section where I ran into Bo’ness. The path has been upgraded and there were even solar-powered street lights.

“As I came around the headland, the views over the Firth of Forth and the three bridges were lovely.

“I also enjoyed the sunrise in East Lothian when I could start to see the openness of the landscape. It was great to see Berwick Law in the distance, although it did seem so far away. Looking back at where I had already run was really good, too.”

However, he struggled with some aspects of the run. Kristian said: “It was very wet for the start of the run and my feet ended up a mess. The wet and the tarmac caused blisters, which then burst. It was painful running with my feet like that.

“I found some stretches of the route quite dull, too. The canals seemed to go on forever and the route was very flat at this point.

“I found it difficult to source food as well, especially in Edinburgh because it was the middle of the night. I am a vegetarian and I have been trying to eat a vegan diet more recently so places to buy food were difficult.  I ended up having to detour off the route to find 24-hour garages and similar.

“I did get lucky in places though, such as when a pub owner gifted me a can of cola at South Queensferry even though last orders had been called. 

“And at Dunbar, when I reached the end, the staff at the Co-op had made a cup of tea for me and I had that with Crimble’s coconut biscuits. That was a brilliant moment.” 

Kristian was grateful to friends for their support along the route as well. James Stewart ran with him over Croy Hill and Gayle Tait ran from North Berwick to the finish.

Having rested for a day or so, Kristian said: “Overall it was a good thing to do and it was a great bit of training. I am still tired and I am snacking a lot. I burned 16,000 calories during the run, which is a lot to replace. “

Reaching Dunbar.
Kristian at the finish.

Kristian’s kit list

Kristian ran as lightly as he could. He found food and water at stores along the way.

  • Trainers: Hoka Clifton 5s
  • Three base layers
  • Inov-8 jacket and waterproof trousers
  • Inov-8 Race Pro pack
  • Black Diamond Icon head torch
  • Spare top and trousers in a sealed bag.
  • Phone
  • Route gpx downloaded to watch.
  • Lucozade energy drink.

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