Ultra-athlete to race from Andes to Amazon Basin

The experienced endurance runner says this challenge will be his toughest yet
The experienced endurance runner says this challenge will be his toughest yet
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HE’S pounded the pathways from Scotland to the Sahara and raced up the cliff face of Mount Kilimanjaro.

So when ultra-runner Dr Andrew Murray says he will confront his “greatest challenge yet”, everyone’s ears should prick up.

This summer, the endurance athlete will weather some of the world’s most hostile conditions to run the equivalent of four marathons in just 24 hours – to the Amazon Basin.

The 33-year-old from Southside will descend 19,000 feet from the summit of the Andes Cotopaxi in Ecuador – braving sub-zero temperatures – to the Pastaza river which feeds the mighty Amazon, where temperatures can peak at 30C.

Launching the 100-mile race on Saturday, the doctor’s lung-bursting feats will put the English football team in the shade as they kick-start their World Cup campaign against Italy on the same day in Brazil.

Dr Murray, whose previous achievements include a week-long challenge to run 50km on the world’s seven continents, said he was wary about traversing the “Avenue of Volcanoes” which boasts some of the most regular eruptions in the world.

“I will be going up a few volcanoes over 5000 metres – three or four times the height of Ben Nevis,” he said.

“What you are nervous about is what is outwith your control – for example, you could have an avalanche and the temperatures are likely to be extremely low.”

Colleague and ultra-cyclist, Chris Oliver, 54, praised Dr Murray’s strength but said he was a “nutcase” for taking it on.

The consultant trauma orthopaedic surgeon, who cycled across the US last year, said: “I think it’s pretty tough running 100 miles in a day, especially in the heat and the humidity and over tough terrain.

“Andrew is an extreme example of physical activity. He’s an ultra example of fitness and he’s an inspiration to many people. That is wonderful and all credit to him.”

Despite swapping snowcapped peaks for the searing heat of the jungle madness in just one day, Dr Murray said he would still have time to catch up on the England match.

He said: “I’m aware that altitude, heat and humidity are usually the enemy of the long-distance runner, and I’m sure I’ll have sympathy for the English football team who will be running around in the Amazon jungle on the same day. But I have been kitted out with the gear that will help minimise the effects of the heat and it would not be a challenge unless it was harder than what I have done before.”

And Dr Murray may even venture back along his epic trail to find a suitable vantage point for a visual treat of erupting volcanoes.

He said: “You can see rocks being thrown up into the air which will be great because I know we have Arthur’s Seat, but it isn’t exploding so sitting there with a beer watching them exploding will be pretty special.”

Dr Murray has already raised £150,000 through his other challenges for charities such as the Scottish Association of Mental Health, African Palliative Care Association UK and the Yamaa Trust and has competed in seven ultra-marathons, winning races in the North Pole, Antarctica, and Outer Mongolia.