Maddiston woman to run 96-mile West Highland Way in one attempt to support Strathcarron Hospice

A Maddiston woman is preparing to embark on a 96-mile-long run in aid of a palliative care service – which she hopes to complete in one go.

By Jonathon Reilly
Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 4:45 pm

Aurel Lewis and Fankerton-based Strathcarron Hospice both turned 40 on April 21 this year, and the ultra runner felt fate was calling on her to do something special to mark the milestone.

As Covid restrictions delayed her initial plan to tie the challenge in with her birthday, Aurel will set off from Milngavie tomorrow (Friday, September 3) and hit the trail to Fort William, with the hope of completing the gruelling journey within 25 hours.

Her birth on the day Strathcarron opened, coupled with the fact one of her first races was the hospice’s charity 10k event in 2013, have left her with the sense she’s about to come full circle.

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Aurel Lewis, of Maddiston, is planning to run all 96 miles of the West Highland Way to raise funds for Strathcarron Hospice. Contributed.

Aurel, who’s also hoping to participate in Strathcarron’s virtual 10k fundraiser in October, said: “I just knew it was a sign.

“I’m feeling pretty excited about it. It’s a bit scary and also quite exciting but now I’m doing it for charity it gives me a boost because the money’s coming in quite well.

“I’ve raised over £1200 so far and a lot more’s due to come in.

“I got into ultra running and in Scotland the big race is the West Highland Way.

Aurel Lewis has previously taken part in the Great Scottish Run in support of the Sick Children's Hospital in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Picture: Michael Gillen.

“I’ve struggled with injury over the years. I’ve done the first and second halves so I needed to put it together. The guy I train with has done it several times but the race didn’t appeal to me.

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“The training’s gone pretty well. It’s bizarre when you say a training run is 30 miles!”

The physiotherapy clinic receptionist joked her job “has come in very handy” during her preparation programme, which sees Aurel tackle six to 15-mile runs four or five times a week.

Although she’ll run the route on her own, Aurel takes comfort in the knowledge support will be on hand from running partners if she requires help getting over the line.

She explained: “At first, everybody had said the challenge is big enough, it’s a lot putting pressure on yourself by doing it for charity as well, but the training started going well.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got aches and pains but nothing drastic that’s put me out of action. That’s when I started thinking, ‘I’m going to do this for charity’.

“When I’m running overnight, the guy who helps me will do some sections. The side of Loch Lomond is a nightmare so if I land there overnight, I’ll have a runner with me.

“After 65 to 70 miles, you can start hallucinating depending on how tired your body is so, if I do feel fatigued, someone would step in as back-up to help.”

Aurel’s main source of motivation is clear, though.

She said: “We’re lucky in the sense we’ve never had anyone in Strathcarron but I know friends who’ve had family in there and the support they’ve had, even after someone’s passing, was phenomenal.

“My brother has terminal cancer and hopefully we never have to use their services but, because it’s just one of those places, as much as you don’t want to see family or friends in there, you know they’re going to be cared for in a phenomenal way.”

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