Running 650 miles in one month would seem like a big enough challenge. So imagine running all those miles in Scotland’s mighty hills. This is exactly what Colin Meek did when he completed an epic run along Scotland’s watershed.
Starting on the English border, Colin rested for only three days during the massive running feat and arrived at Duncansby Head on the far north coast of Scotland just 30 days later.
During the run, he summited more than 30 Munros and ran a total of 33,000 metres (108,250ft) of ascent.
What is Scotland’s watershed?
Scotland’s Watershed is a 700-mile route defined by geology, and described in Peter Wright’s book Ribbon of Wildness. When rain falls on Scotland (We know it does. Quite a lot!), it runs either into the North Sea or the Atlantic. The Watershed defines that line.
Much of the Watershed line is high and mountainous ground. In weaving a line from the very south to the very north of Scotland’s mainland, it takes in a great deal of wild, rugged and trackless terrain.
The route taken by Colin, of Dundonnell in the Highlands, included the rolling Southern Uplands, the central belt and the Campsie Fells, Ben Lomond (Scotland’s most southerly Munro), the Trossachs, then via the West Highlands before sweeping east to Caithness.
He was apparently inspired to tackle the watershed because it is a linear route easily defined and includes some of Scotland’s most challenging scenery.
For Colin, the highlights were “the mountain runs near Tyndrum and the magnificent ascent of Conival in Sutherland”.
What Colin had to This week, Colin told me: “Running the route on the Watershed was a massive journey for me that started over two years ago and dominated my spare time for that period. I ran 3,000 training miles since January 2011.
“I chose the Watershed as my challenge for many reasons – because it is so wild, it runs through the length of Scotland and it is very mountainous. But the main reason was that nobody had attempted it as a run before and it was, therefore, a challenge in every sense of the word. I was embarking on a route I had no idea I could finish.
“In the end I had to make some compromises on my intended route but I did manage to run close to 650miles in often remote mountainous terrain.
“My hunch that parts of the Watershed would make a great run was correct. I have some spectacular memories and I learned a great deal as a mountain and ultra-marathon runner.”
He added (and I love this bit!): “I think challenges of this kind are the essence of long-distance running. There are no instruction books, no training plans and nobody to tell you where you’re going wrong. You must fall back on your instincts and move out of our comfort zone. You just become a better runner by trying hard. That was my plan.”
See more info about this epic Watershed run on Colin’s blog