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Perthshire doctor marking retirement with life-saving coast-to-coast running challenge

Alan Matthew with sons Cameron and Gregor.
Alan Matthew with sons Cameron and Gregor.

A Perthshire doctor will celebrate his retirement with a life-saving 80-mile run across rural Scotland.

Alan Matthews, who was a GP at Crieff Medical Centre for nearly 20 years, will team up with sons Gregor and Cameron for a gruelling coast-to-coast challenge.

Dr Matthews, who also spent 14 years at St Margaret’s Health Centre in Auchterarder, said they plan to run between Kessock Bridge, near Inverness, and Skye Bridge on the west coast in just four days.

The exhausting expedition, which will take in the Great Glen Way and the remote Glen Affric, will raise money for Cancer Research UK and the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

The 58-year-old, who retired in June, is an experienced runner, having completed the Edinburgh Marathon in an impressive two hours and 54 minutes. But his Retirement Run Across Scotland, which begins on August 19, will be the longest distance he has undertaken.

Wife Rhona, 58, will also join the adventure, providing crucial backup and support.

Dr Matthews, from Dunning, said: “Over the years, I’ve seen  the many real challenges faced by patients and families affected by cancer and mental health illnesses.

“After 36 years as a doctor, it’s time to hang up the stethoscope and take things easy. I’m fortunate to be in good health and I really enjoy the outdoors.”

He said Gregor, 30, and Cameron, 28, immediately accepted the challenge.

“All three of us have run marathons in under three hours in the past, although for me it was 20 years ago,” he said. “I suspect for me the challenge will be to try to keep up with my boys and ahead of the midges.”

Dr Matthews said he was motivated by alarming health figures.

“The facts are striking,” he said. “One in two born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime, and one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem.

“The Retirement Run Across Scotland challenge will only be for four days, but for some of those with cancer or mental illness, it can be for a lifetime. There will be some tough moments along the away, but it’s not meant to be easy.”

Training so far has included a Boxing Day half marathon and the Glen Affric Duathlon in May.

The father and sons team hope to make £5,000. A website – www.bit.ly/run-across-scotland – has been set up to accept donations and sponsorship.

Lisa Adams, spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK in Scotland, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Alan, Gregor and Cameron have decided to attempt such a great challenge to raise vital funds.”

Dundee is home to ground-breaking and world renowned cancer studies, focusing on bowel, breast and skin cancers.

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