It took him just under the target time of 35 hours, in some of the worst Skye weather imaginable, but Ally K Macpherson completed his epic run around his home island and was given a hero’s reception in Portree’s Somerled Square just before nine o’clock last Saturday evening.
In scenes reminscent of the night Skye’s shinty team won the Camanachd Cup in 1990, hundreds packed into the village square to welcome the intrepid runner home following an energy-sapping feat of endurance which had begun at the southern tip of the island a little before 10am the previous day.
Ally’s efforts, relayed to hundreds of followers on social media, had captured the imagination near and far. Support and donations poured in and so far Ally’s run has raised £25,000 for Cancer Research, with £3,400 of that collected in buckets from the many well-wishers along the route.
Speaking to Free Press this week, Ally revealed he had actually run nine miles more than he had originally estimated.
“I had calculated it was going to be 125 miles, but it was actually 134,” he said while continuing his recovery at home in Portree. “But at least it was over the total. If I had run under it I might have had some explaining to do!”
Ally’s run took him from Armadale to Broadford, Sligachan, Dunvegan, Portree, Staffin, Kilmuir, Uig and finally back to Portree. He encountered lashing overnight rain, and conditions meant he ran into a headwind for most of the way around the north end of the island.
Many thoughts crossed his mind during the 35 hours, but quitting wasn’t one of them.
“That was never an option — the support team would never have let me anyway, but I couldn’t get this far and stop,” he said. “We had 17 hours of rain and nine hours of running into a headwind around the top of Skye. Coming into Portree at five o’ clock on Saturday morning was a bit of a low point. It was lashing rain, and there were still 50 miles to go. I started to get a bit tired then, and there was another low at Lealt.
“Going around the top at Duntulm the wind was driving right into my face. But I just had to keep plodding away. When we got around to Kilmuir, and then Uig and a sign saying 20 miles to go, I thought that was it — we had cracked it.”
Ally paid tribute to the support team, and the many runners who braved the elements to join him over the course. His wife Donna — who he said couldn’t sleep throughout Friday night — joined him for much of the route, with their children Eilidh and Lewis holding the tape at the finish line.
He added: “I was out of my comfort zone doing this. But I was chuffed to bits at the finish line — the response has been incredible.
“I had no idea when I set out to do this that it would get so big. All the way from Sleat to the north end and back to Portree people were tooting their horns, and coming out to give encouragement and support.
“There were guys who came and ran through the night with me in horrendous conditions — their support was brilliant.”
Ally had to enlist the aid of two friends to help him out of bed on Sunday, and with his legs having swollen up he was walking with the aid of a stick in the early part of this week.
This weekend he is looking forward to spending a couple of days “in peace and quiet” with his family in Elgol. But a reception, a cheque handover and a screening of footage of the journey is planned for the 17th of May in Portree’s Royal Hotel.
Donations for Cancer Research can still be made at www.justgiving.com/allykrunsskye