Maddiston woman runs West Highland Way in under 30 hours for Strathcarron Hospice
A woman has raised more than £3000 for a palliative care provider after running all 96 miles of one of Scotland’s most famous hillwalking routes in under 30 hours.
Maddiston resident and ultra runner Aurel Lewis successfully negotiated the entire West Highland Way (WHW) in little over a day.
Aurel, 40, completed the arduous journey from Milngavie to Fort William in 29 hours and 16 minutes, despite suffering a knee injury during a demanding training schedule in the lead-up to her Friday, September 3 fundraiser for Strathcarron Hospice.
The physiotherapy clinic receptionist turned 40 earlier this year on the same day the Fankerton palliative care facility celebrated four decades of service (April 21).
Given that coincidence, Aurel felt it was only fitting she took on a daring challenge in aid of the hospice, which relies on donations to continue caring for those living with, and dying from, a terminal illness.
Delays caused by the pandemic meant she had to wait until this month to take on the WHW run.
Aurel’s initial ambition of completing the route within 25 hours was scuppered when she sustained an injury prior to the fundraiser.
An “overloaded” knee tendon wasn’t enough to dampen her spirit, though.
If anything, the injury strengthened Aurel’s resolve, while the thought of those who would benefit from the cash she generated also spurred her on.
She said: “I was well within my time and it was just an epic journey.
“The injury changed my whole plan. I said if I could get under 30 hours it was a bonus.
“I was up on the Sunday morning doing my washing – I was expecting to be in my bed for a few days but everything went well. I don't think it's sunk in.
“It’s just a totally different level: the elevation of the road, the constant overnight running.
“It was just taking your body to the limit. I trained really hard for it and it paid off.
“On the journey up I sat in the back trying to focus on the run and the reason why I was doing it.
“In the run-up, a few people got in touch with me and talked about Strathcarron’s support. That really went through my head a lot.
“There were times where tiredness kicked in and I kept on thinking ‘I’m going home to my bed tomorrow and these people in there are in a serious amount of pain and most don’t go home to their families’.
“There were a few times I got quite emotional.
“At first I wasn’t going to do this for charity but I’m so glad I did because it gave me that extra drive.”
Having that added incentive enabled Aurel to keep moving when the going got especially difficult late in the evening.
The support of friend and fellow runner Peter Hunter also helped to keep her relatively calm despite testing underfoot conditions.
Aurel, who’s signed up for Strathcarron’s virtual 10k fundraiser in October, added: “The overnight section was really tough.
“I had a head torch on and had to do the full Crianlarich forest and lochside in the dark.
“My parents, Janet and Mike, were driving the support vehicle and my friends, Peter and Mark Keddie, dropped in and out of sections for a wee bit of company.”