Ultra runner Kim Collison has set an impressive new 24-hour Munros record. The 41-year-old running coach reached 33 summits over 3000ft in the set time. Rules of the record circuit require that runners also start and inside at the same place.
Kim, from the English Lake District, left himself no margin for error when he returned to Invercauld Bridge (also known. as Bridge of Dee), near Breemar, with just minutes to spare on the clock.
He beat the previous record set by Sasha Chepelin last August when he reached 32 Munros. Sasha added two Munros to Jim Mann’s record in 2017.
Kim ran 100 miles (160km) and ascended a total of 9000m (29,527ft) to claim the 33 Munros. He told me: “It was a very tough challenge. The terrain is very variable and very rough in places. There are boulder fields, peat hags, bogs, heathery hillsides and also some amazing runnable trails.
“With a 24-hour record, it’s a performance challenge, pushing hard through all the hours.
“It felt very good to finish and to claim the new record.”
He said: “The Lakes 24-hour was not as far but it has more ascent. I found the 24-hour Munros record harder.”
Kim’s 24-hour Munros record
Kim started at 6am on Saturday July 3, 2021. His route choice was the same as Sasha’s. He extended the run to take in Braeriach in the Cairngorms, between Sgor an Lochain Uaine and Monadh Mor.
1 Ben Avon
2 Beinn a’ Bhuird
3 Beinn Bhreac
4 Beinn a’ Chaorainn
5 Beinn Mheadhoin
6 Derry Cairngorm
7 Ben MacDui
8 Carn a’ Mhaim
9 Devil’s Point
10 Cairn Toul
11 Sgor an Lochan Uaine
13 Monadh Mor
14 Beinn Bhrotain
15 Carn Bhac
16 Beinn Luthan Mhor
17 Carn an Righ
18 Glas Tulaichean
19 An Socach
20 Carn a’ Geoidh
21 Carn Aosda
22 The Cairnwell
23 Creag Leacach
24 Glas Maol
25 Cairn of Claise
26 Carn an Tuirc
27 Tom Buidhe
29 Broad Cairn
30 Cairn Bannoch
31 Carn an t-Sagairt
32 Carn a’ Choire Bhoidheach
Kim’s fast pace at the start meant that a couple of pacers didn’t make it to the meeting points in time. This called for some pacers to carry on and run further than expected.
Kim said: “I was faster than the schedule to begin with and this inevitably led to support crew difficulties, such as pacers not arriving in time and difficulty managing food supplies.
“I tried to stay calm and just keep going when this happened.”
A particularly tough section came at the halfway point. Kim says: “I felt really bad at this point. My legs were fatigued and I was feeling the effects of the all the effort in the previous hours.
“I knew I need to keep a good pace if I was to have the chance to add in an extra Munro on the previous record.”
By 8pm, rain and showers hit and this reduced visibility for Kim and his running support. He said: “I was fortunate to have great runners with me and they helped with the navigation but when it is rainy, misty and poor visibility – we could see no more than 10 metres ahead at times – it inevitably slows you down. Then came the night when the pace always slows.
“However, the last couple of hours, with daylight again, were a lot better. I had a fantastic team supporting me and I am very grateful to them.”
Adding an extra summit to an already tight schedule is a huge gamble. Kim says: “I was ahead of schedule to the start and then that started to slip. I know it was going to be a big call to add Braeriach but I needed to do that to set a new record.
“The last leg was a bit stressful and I was struggling to eat. I was hitting the wall and my legs were like jelly at times.
“I had to sit down and force pizza into my face. After that I felt a bit better.
“In the end, I had just 11-and-a-half minutes to spare when I got back to the bridge. It was very close but it needed to be to set the record. I really is a very tough challenge.”
Highlights of 24-hour Munros record
As well as the delight of finishing and a new record, Kim, a La Sportiva athlete, revealed there were some highlights.
He said: “The views on Ben Macdui in the middle of the day were great. I had fresh legs then and it was good fun running along. I also love the terrain in the Cairngorms.
“At times I felt like I was really flowing.”
Kim also recounted a special moment on the summit of Lochnagar. He said: “As we arrived, we saw two huge stags. Then the clouds lifted and the view was amazing with the stags and the backdrop of the mountains.”
The sense of community was a huge benefit for Kim. He said: “So many people, including people I didn’t even know, turned out to support my run. They were there in the remote Cairngorms and also in the middle of the night in Glanshee. The whole thing felt like a team event.
“I couldn’t have done it without so many supporters, both those I knew and those I didn’t.”
Kim praised his wife, Alison Love. He said: “Alison has one of the hardest and least glamorous jobs. She was sat at Lin of Dee car park, giving out food and helping with logistics. Then she had to drive me home. I couldn’t do what I do without her support.”
Keys to success of 24-hour record
Kim says his vast amount of experience from previous records set him up to do well in the 24-hour Munros challenge.
He said: “I know what a 24-hour mountain record feels like. I know the pace I need to do and how to keep going hard.
“I am also able to adapt to difficult situations, or when things don’t go to plan.
“Having a great team is also crucial to success.
“And you have to work hard and have a passion and determination to succeed. You have to really want it, which I did.”