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Dundee dentists run the length of Scotland to raise money for SAMH

The four dentists set off from John o' Groats. Supplied

“We wanted to do something that would make us a bit scared”, said Stuart Campbell on the decision to run the length of Scotland.

The Dundee native, along with three friends, ran 423 miles from John o’ Groats to Gretna Green, over the course of 11 days to raise money for Scottish Association For Mental Health (SAMH).

“We wanted to take on something that we weren’t sure if we could do it or not,” he explained.

Dundee Running dentists
The four ran an average of 40 miles a day. Supplied.

“In tandem with that, during lockdown, there was a lot of publicity about how people were suffering from mental health issues as a result.

“We just felt we wanted to do something for that as well.

“Because running is a great way to get outside and de-stress and collect your thoughts and we thought if we could do that and support SAMH at the same time – we all just went for it.”

Training for the big run

The four runners were all dentists who used running as a way to stay active in their “relatively sedentary” job.

Stuart, Ryan Stuart and Derek Marner all trained at Dundee University, while friend Paddy Watson studied at Glasgow University.

The group completed several long runs before taking on the challenge.

Dundee dentists running
The longest day saw the group do an 11-hour run. Supplied.

“I now live in Edinburgh and pretty much most of my running was in the Pentland hills and Arthur’s Seat,” Stuart explained.

“On one of the runs, we did a 70k trail from Dundee.

“Starting at Discovery Point we went up Dundee Law, across to Broughty Ferry, around all the sites in town, past the Unicorn, back across to Newport and Wormit, then Tentsmuir and finished in St Andrews.

“So we did a few big runs like that but it was mainly around our local areas.”

Hitting a wall

Despite knowing that the challenge would be tough, Stuart said: “I don’t think any of us could really imagine how difficult it actually was going to be”.

He continued: “We’d done maybe three or four days running back to back maximum, but this was 11 days back to back of ultra running.

“It was definitely tougher than I expected.”

Disaster struck on day five when Derek hurt himself at the halfway point.

“He had a really bad knee injury,” Stuart said.

“He tried to keep going, but he was told that medically, he just wouldn’t be able to keep going. So that was a blow.”

Dundee running dentists
The group suffered a number of injuries during the challenge. Supplied

He continued: “I think the hardest moment came at around day six when we were halfway through.

“All of us were suffering injuries, we were all in pain and at that point we were in the West Highland Way.

“Although the scenery was beautiful and the weather was great, we were all just struggling with the terrain and various injuries and so on. That was a point we all thought ‘this is never going to happen’.

“We had a lot of people supporting us and that kind of got us through.

“But that was make or break, once we got through that day we thought well it’s not going to get any tougher than this, so let’s just keep going.”

Getting support

The runners were also battling with the weather – from scorching sun, to rain, hail and even some snow. They were “having to change layers four or five times a day”.

Dundee dentist
The group faced some terrain challenges. Supplied.

The group were running around 40 miles a day, from anywhere between six hours to 11 hours.

“It was like a full time job,” Stuart added.

The team had a support crew on hand.

“They are really experienced in supporting expeditions,” he said.

“So they would normally be overseas somewhere supporting people in the desert, but they were grounded because of Covid so they said they’d love to help us.

“They took care of everything, accommodation, pit stops, making sure we were eating right, so all we had to think about was running.”

Dundee running dentists
They were relieved to have reached Gretna Green. Supplied

While all four men are still nursing some injuries, Stuart said they were all proud of raising money for SAMH.

“We’re up to £12,000 for SAMH, he said.

“We set a target of £5,000 so to have almost trebled that is phenomenal. So I’m delighted we can contribute to them.”

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