AN endurance athlete taking part in a 50-mile ice-skating marathon has revealed he was desperate to break the UK record – so he did not miss his flight home.
Mark Horne completed the gruelling challenge across frozen rivers and lakes in Sweden in four hours, 27 minutes, smashing the previous British best by more than half-an-hour.
However, the Edinburgh University PhD student had no time to savour his achievement after a mix-up with the airport’s location meant he had another race to get there on time.
“I fell for the classic trick when booking my flights, thinking Stockholm Skavsta was in Stockholm when really it was an hour-and-a-half away,” he said.
“The race finished an hour outside Stockholm and I thought I had plenty of time to make it.
“It was only when I was printing off my boarding pass when I thought, ‘How am I going to get to the town?’ I looked at where the airport was and saw it wasn’t anywhere near Stockholm.
“I knew if I didn’t finish in under five hours I would miss my flight, and even then it was touch-and-go. I think maybe that spurred me on a bit.”
Mark, 27, who is a member of Edinburgh Athletics Club, competed in the “men without poles” category of the Viking Run.
He practised at the ice-rink in Murrayfield in the weeks leading up to the annual event but said the frozen, interconnected fjords between Uppsala and Stockholm were a different prospect.
Near-perfect conditions did not stop one man from going through the ice, but Mark completed the epic adventure unscathed.
He said: “About ten miles from Stockholm, I saw a guy go through the ice. Because he had quite a bit of speed up his legs went in but his body went forward so he just got up and kept going.”
Mark finished the race at 12.30pm and had to get his skates on again to get to the tube station for his 1pm connection to Stockholm.
He then had to return his safety gear to a shop before he could jump on a bus to the airport at 2.45pm.
It meant he eventually got into the airport at 5.20pm, making it through the gates with minutes to spare before the Ryanair departure at 5.45pm.
Ryanair’s strategy says it favours secondary airports with convenient transportation to major population centres.
Secondary and regional airports are generally less congested than major airports and, as a result, can be expected to provide higher rates of on-time departures, faster turnaround times, fewer terminal delays and more competitive airport access and handling costs. Now Mark, who holds the record for the fastest coast-to-coast crossing of Scotland, running 80 miles from Inverness to Oban in 17 hours, is getting ready for another challenge.
On March 10, he and 20 others will climb Ben Lomand twice in a day to replicate the height of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania – which they will tackle in June.
MORE THAN A SHORT HOP AWAY
STOCKHOLM isn’t the only city to be served by an airport located more than a short hop away.
Other far-out air hubs at destinations served by Ryanair include:
Oslo Torp – 68 miles south-west of Oslo
Frankfurt Hahn – 68 miles east of Frankfurt
Barcelona Girona – 64 miles outside Barcelona
Beauvais-Tille Airport – 50 miles north of Paris
Dusseldorf Weeze – 43 miles from Dusseldorf
Milan Bergamo – 35 miles from Milan