Alistair Gray, from Helensburgh, will run the 95-mile ‘ultramarathon’ in Scotland’s highlands on June 18 to raise money for blind charity RNIB.
The 33-year-old civil engineer was prompted to take on the extreme challenge after his Aunt Barbara lost her sight in childhood.
He wants any money he raises to go the ‘talking books’ service provided by the charity for those with sight loss.
The West Highland Way run will take him through some of Scotland’s most spectacularly rugged scenery, from the banks of Loch Lomond, Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe to far-off Fort William.
“It’s not the 95 miles that worries me but the 53 before breakfast,” said Alistair.
“My friend challenged me to do something extraordinary so I thought running the West Highland Way would fit the bill. I saw it as an opportunity to raise money for RNIB Scotland. Sight loss is something close to my heart as my Aunt Barbara has been blind since losing her sight following complications from an accident in her childhood. She now has no vision at all.”
Alistair is training hard even during a week’s holiday in Spain.
“The running may be in the legs,” he says, “but it’s important to make sure that the head is in the right place too. I’m lucky to have a week off work and have come out to Spain to get some sun. Training doesn’t stop here, though, and I will be getting plenty of miles in around the small town of Peniscola.”
A veteran of marathons and ultra-marathons, Alistair has never faced a challenge quite this extreme, though. He thinks the run will take him around 20 hours.
“I am worried about what will happen after Tyndrum,” he says, “as this will be running out into the unknown. You have to hope that the training is enough to pull me through to Fort William but there is always a doubt in the mind that things will come to a grinding halt.
“But training has been going well. So far I have mixed up the normal evening road-running with longer off-road quite well and am happy with the way my weight and stamina have been working out.
“From now until the race it’s just keeping the mileage up and trying to stay healthy. The sponsorship is going well with over half of the advertising space on my running kit sold or otherwise taken, so thank you to all who have helped me with this project.”
Alistair’s Just Giving page includes a striking short promotional video.
Any money he raises in sponsorship will go towards producing more audio-books by RNIB for people with sight loss. “This service is a lifeline to those with sight loss,” he says. “Without it, most literature would be denied to them. But it costs RNIB £2,500 to professionally transcribe each book into audio and braille.
“Don’t worry if you haven’t donated yet - there is still time!”
To donate you can visit Alistair’s Just Giving page - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Allyruns100