This year will be Inverness runner Steven Burnside’s 10th Loch Ness Marathon. However, the week leading up to the 26.2 mile challenge is very different from any previous outing. Instead of tapering in preparation for the race, Steven, 47, is running 10 marathons in 10 days with the Loch Ness Marathon as his 10th run.
The 10 in 10 days challenge, totalling 262 miles of road running, is also raising funds for mental health charity Mickeysline.
Today, I joined my friend from the Highland Hill Runners for only a 20th of his big feat. I ran the last half of his daily marathon, which starts between Fort Augustus and Foyers and finishes in Inverness city centre. I was impressed with his physical and mental strength.
He has run all but one of the marathons in under four hours and managed to overcome the difficulties of running the same route, day after day, on tarmac.
Steven, who is married with two teenage children, said: “I really do love running. I don’t mind where I am running although I most enjoy the trails and hills.
“However, running a marathon day after day on the same route is a tough challenge. I have been very surprised by how well I have held up so far.
“There have been some difficult times and I am a bit sore in one of my hips but mostly it has been enjoyable and much better than I imagined it would be.”
Steven is also grateful for all the support offered by friends, as well as the many charity donations. He said: “People have been very generous and they have helped me with lifts to the start of the route and also run sections with me. All the donations have been amazing as well. I’ve felt very touched by it all.”
Steven’s Loch Ness Marathon history
It was in 2009 that Steven, who works for the Royal Mail, did his first Loch Ness Marathon. Back then he weighed more than 90kg and decided to do the marathon on a whim as a way to become healthier.
He said: “I had put on some weight and I heard an advert on the radio for the marathon and I thought I would enter to get fitter. I didn’t do enough training and, on the day, I found it very tough.”
That marathon he completed in 5 hours 40 minutes.
He returned the next year, having trained properly and after shedding some weight. Steven said: “I ran a much faster time the second time and it wasn’t quite so difficult.”
Since then, Steven has entered another seven times and set a personal best time of 3hrs 9mins. He has lost almost a third of his body weight and he has also run numerous other races.
He said: “I prefer longer distance running challenges. My first ultra was the Devil o’ the Highlands. I have also done the Highland Fling. My favourite is the West Highland Way Race.”
I met Steven when I was reporting for the Cape Wrath Ultra. He has completed this multi-stage long-distance event twice.
He said: “I am best suited to longer distance running and I seem to be able to keep going. I really enjoy ultra distance events.
“I wanted to mark the year of my 10th Loch Ness Marathon with a charity fund-raiser. I chose Mikeysline because it’s such an important local charity. Everyone has been affected by mental health issues, whether personally or seeing friends suffering. They do amazing work.”
Please do donate to the 10 in 10 Loch Ness Marathon challenge.