Most people would class a half marathon as a once-in-a-lifetime goal but not Alastair. The 58-year-old pharma company MD tackled 30 of them. In 30 consecutive days and each at under two hours!
The half-marathons were part of Alastair’s epic fundraising events that included a self-supported 1,000 mile (LEJOG) (Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle), 12 hours of continuous competitive tennis and 20km of swimming – all in aid of three key UK charities that have supported close friends of his.
Alastair recently took to Twitter on reaching his target: “Folks. We’ve done it! Target of £100k has been reached. Am absolutely delighted. All of the madness has been worth it. I want to say a huge thanks to all of you who have supported and donated. You have all dug deep to help 3 fantastic charities. Your generosity is amazing”
Alastair explains the planning: “I turned 59 this year, I’ve had three knee operations, two shoulder operations and a herniated disc in my neck. This was the last hurrah for me. I won’t be doing anything like this again – my wife would divorce me!
“I wanted this year to go out with bang.”
Each day, during his lunch hour from his role as MD of a Pharma company, Alastair laced up and headed out to run his daily sub-two hour half-marathons.
“I’ve ran all within my goal of under two hours. They ranged from 1.45 to 1.54 and at no point did it get any easier.
“During the week, I had to fit them in around my full-time job so I came in very early to work and ran around 1pm. Then come back, have a shower, and get back to work.
“The biggest problem was lack of recovery time. My body didn’t recover as quickly as it used to, and every niggle was accentuated.”
“Another of my biggest issues was the fact that due to all the other challenges, I had not actually ran for over five weeks by the time I started on 1 September.
“The cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats took a hell of a lot out of my legs. After that, my legs were extremely sore, especially as I had to cycle for seven days in only half my gears, due to falling off on day three and damaging my bike.
Undeterred, Alastair is drove himself on, despite the pain of the half marathons.
“The worst one I had was day three. This was due to the fact that after day one, my legs and quads in particular, were so sore. Day two was bad, but day three was horrendous. I could barely walk downstairs and yet I had to run the 13.1 miles.
“Every step was torture, and this was my worst time. I honestly thought I may have to quit, but surprisingly on day four they had eased off.
“The best day, by far, was day 14, when I ran the most beautiful route yet and I felt great. The Sterling scenery was spectacular.
Alastair’s challenges formed #AllOutAlly; an epic, summer-long series of sport events with a £100,000 target to raise vital funds for The Brain Tumour Charity, Bloodwise and Bowel Cancer UK.
“You can’t raise a hundred grand by running a marathon – people may only give you a tenner, so I love tennis, I love cycling, I love running. I despise swimming but I needed to make it all as challenging as I could.”
Alastair’s fitness frenzy started with 12 hours of non-stop competitive tennis on 3 August.
“The longest match recorded is eleven hours, so I thought if I’m going to aim to play for 12 hours, why not make it harder. Each hour was a competition game.”
But that was just a warm up for Alastair, as the 10 August saw him begin the gruelling, self-supported, LEJOG.
“With cycling, I’ve always wanted to do a LEJOG so that was easy to make that a part. It’ll be over 10 days so that will be really tough – it’s about 10 hours cycling each day.”
That left just the 20k swim on 25 August… and now, the small matter of September’s 30, sub-two hour marathons in 30 days.
“Most people I talk to say don’t do it. That’s their advice. Everyone’s supportive but when you talk to proper athletes they say this is actually quite stupid.
“My wife made me go to the GP but the ECG was perfect. I think she was disappointed because she was looking forward to an excuse for me not doing them.”
Alastair has form when it comes to taking on mammoth fundraising challenges. Back in 2011 he completed a series of 30 half marathons, driven on by the death of his best friend from leukemia.
Since then he has had two friends die from brain tumours and another from bowel cancer, hence the devoted support for the three charities.
But Alastair’s fundraising drive goes back further, to his time as a chief pharmacist at the The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre, from 1988-1997.
“It was when we were working with patients for testicular cancer. We did some events back then to support these young lads while they were in isolation undergoing autologous bone marrow transplant treatment.
“One of them was 12 hours of five-a-side football, with matches every hour. We did this four times in total and it was hugely successful. That’s kinda the root of the appeal of these sort of competitive edged challenges.”
“I’m not a perfect athletic specimen by any means,” he says. “But I love and have always played sport and I’m very competitive.
“You have to be to face these sort of challenges with any hope of them being a success.”