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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > Mar-17 > The Don

The Don

The Ramsay Round, with 8,500m of ascent packed into just 56 miles, is one of the toughest endurance challenges in the UK. In December, Donnie Campbell conquered the 24 Scottish summits in record time and became just the second person ever to complete the round in winter. Jonny Muir sheds some light on his extraordinary achievement

RAMSAY ROUND RECORD

Donnie Campbell has been running for 20 hours. He is shrouded in the darkness of a Scottish night in December. He is climbing Aonach Beag, the seventh highest mountain in Britain. As he ascends, a wall of snow, glistening in the glow of a headtorch, rears above his head. The microspikes that might have eased his passage are 10 miles away in the backpack of a friend who inadvertently ran away with them. Tom Owens, Donnie’s support runner, gingerly begins kicking steps into the snow. Donnie follows. If I fall or stumble, Donnie thinks, I am going to plummet 500 metres back to the bealach. Game over.

Donnie was attempting what only six people had ever achieved – a Ramsay Round in winter. Scotland’s representative among the trio of big 24-hour mountain rounds, the Ramsay – pioneered in 1978 – encompasses a 56-mile loop of 23 Munros, with the first or last mountain, depending on the direction of travel, the little matter of Ben Nevis. Climbing a cumulative 8,600 metres, the statistics are comparable to the Bob Graham Round, but the Ramsay is unquestionably harder. The terrain is more committing, the opportunities for support more complex, the impact of altitude and weather far greater. There is a reason why only 93 people had successfullycompleted the Ramsay Round in the 38 years of its existence.

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About Men's Running

When I first started at MR – a fresh-faced graduate with fully functioning knees – I ran to keep fit. Did I do it? Yes. Did I enjoy it? No. Fast-forward two years and things are a little different... 2016 saw me run my first marathon, my first ultra and – the natural progression – my first 24-hour track race. People talk of the running bug, but this was a full-scale pandemic. In the months that followed, though, I got lazy. The thought of running elicited a vacant stare, a memory of plodding round a 400m track at three in the morning, and the muttered words, “You weren’t there, man.” So, resolved to refind my running mojo in 2017, I signed up to a race, the Brixton 10K (p94), in the hope that it would spark me back to life. And, along with providing depressing confirmation of just how much slower I’ve got, it certainly did that; the post-race feeling reminding me just why I fell in love with running in the first place. For many, though, running’s true benefit lies not in racing but in the adventures it brings. In our lead feature this issue (p46), photographer James Carnegie leads us on a whistle-stop tour of Northern Ireland to prove that, with just a little planning, a day is all you need to run some of the finest routes the UK has to offer. You may not find me scrambling up the Mourne Mountains any time soon, but you will find me running again. Here’s to getting back on track in 2017.
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