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Scottish doctor, Andrew Murray completes an epic 18 day 900km East African Ultra run

11:31 24th July 2013 By Andrew Cremin


Dr Andrew Murray on his way up Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Dr Andrew Murray on his way up Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Endurance athlete and Merrell ambassador, Dr Andrew Murray this week completed an epic 18 day journey across East Africa, running more than an ultra-marathon (50km) each day, in search of the secrets behind what he labels “the single greatest, most concentrated production line of world class talent in sport.”

Dr Murray, a Sports Medicine doctor with the SportScotland Institute of Sport, covered over 900km in total at significant altitude, traversing national parks, tropical rain forests and desert plains. His journey took him up and down the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, Mt Kilimanjaro (19,341 ft) in a single day.

Edinburgh resident Dr Murray, who grew up in Kenya, shot to fame in 2011 when he ran 4290km from John O’Groats to the Sahara desert, and broke a world record in 2012 by completing seven ultra-marathons on seven continents in seven days as well as winning the North Pole Marathon and the Antarctic Ice Marathon.

During his time in East Africa, Murray also spent time with Olympic and World Champions such as John Ngugi, Yobes Ondieki and Edna Kiplagat, and experts including Colm O’Connell who has coached over 20 world champions, to better understand what makes Kenya the pre-eminent force in middle and long distance running globally.

Dr. Andrew Murray running with Kenyan kids.

Dr. Andrew Murray running with Kenyan kids.

He observed the 2013 Kenyan World Championship trials, where Olympic and World champions like Ezekiel Kemboi and Linet Masai both finished 6th, behind emerging stars. Remarkably, at the Athletics World Championships in Daegu 2011, Kenyan athletes won 17 medals, with 11 of those going to athletes resident in Iten, a village of only 4000 people.

Commenting on the trip and his learning’s, Murray, said;

Running Mt Kilimanjaro, and covering fairly chunky distances each day at considerable altitude are difficult, but applying knowledge from the Kenyan champions, made it a fair bit easier.

Because Kenyan athletes are so dominant in middle and long distance running people assume you have to be from Kenya or East Africa to be successful in these events- that success is based on genetics and where you are from. Neither myself nor any experts I spoke to can find any truth in this. There is no secret; it’s about doing absolutely everything right, coupled with some natural ability.

Ironically despite the world class talent in Kenya, most aspiring athletes have inadequate footwear, so it was great to take 500 pairs of shoes across, including 150 new pairs from Merrell. During my time out there I ran in Merrell Mix Master Tuff, a sturdy trail shoe, which coped incredibly well across the range of terrain we encountered. It was reassuring to know that as we covered mountains, moorland, glaciers and rainforest, I would always have a shoe that was 100% fit for purpose.

For more info on Dr. Murray and his adventures, head to docandrewmurray.com.


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