A Skye chef has completed a gruelling month-long fundraising challenge by running 100k in aid of multiple sclerosis research.
Calum Montgomery, who is the head chef at Edinbane Lodge in north Skye, conquered the epic endeavor on Sunday night (31st May) just 90 minutes before the deadline by running 16k from Sligachan back to his home in Portree.
Unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, Calum decided to use some of his newly found free time to embark on a few runs to get fit.
However, having seen the impact of the disease on both friends and family, he then set himself the task of running to raise funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis research, as he explained to the Free Press.
He said: “I started out going for long walks, but then I had to shift my belly! I did it to lose weight to begin with, and then I started to see some progress and my times were getting better,
“One of me and Eilidh’s best friends was diagnosed with MS about six years ago when we were living together in Glasgow.
“It really hit home what a serious disease it is.”
“Family members on both my mum and my dad’s sides have also had MS, and a few of my family members have raised funds for it before.”
According to the MS International Federation, there are over 2.3 million people around the world living with MS. The MS International Federation’s mission is to leave MS where it belongs, behind us.
As part of its mission to “kiss goodbye to MS once and for all,” the charity extended an invitation to everyone to join the May 50K to “raise more funds for global research, targeting prevention, better treatments and a cure for MS…”
While far from being in the habit of running regularly, Calum decided to recalibrate the goal of running 50k across the month and double the target to 100k as he sought to push himself to the limit for the charity.
He said: “The biggest run I had done in the past 10 years before this had been four kilometers.
“However, when you work in a kitchen you are usually on your feet for 10 to 15 hours a day.
“I looked back at my health app, and on an average day in the kitchen, I would have been walking a 10k anyway.”
He added: “I had first of all seen that Gordy McCarroll had signed up to do it in Broadford, so I decided that I would challenge myself.
“At that point, I had just started running – I had done two or three runs but saw a bit of progress and really wanted to push myself throughout the month of May anyway.”
Although the task of completing the charity challenge was in itself a significant one for Calum, a far more momentous moment was drawing closer on the horizon as he worked towards his goal.
“The biggest challenge for me during the month was trying to do it alongside Marie Ann arriving and to become a father for the first time right in amongst it,” he said.
“Marie Ann was due on 6th May, so I thought that’s fine, I’ll go for a couple of runs before the birth, then I will have to adjust and I can finish strong towards the end of May, but she was then 14 days overdue.”
During their wait for the arrival of Marie Ann, Calum took on the Skye Half Marathon route as he looked to increase his kilometre count.
“I had my breakfast that morning, and I thought I will just try the half marathon route and see how I go. I ended up doing it under two hours,” he said.
“Eilidh went into labour two days after that. I didn’t run again for 14 days and after that and went straight into a 5k run and then a 16k.
“We spent four days away in Raigmore and then we had to self-isolate for seven days, we weren’t showing symptoms it was just to be safe.”
With a fortnight having passed since he last ran and the number of days for him to reach his target now dwindling, Calum admitted he was apprehensive about starting again.
“The thought of doing my first run – having not been out for a walk or anything for two weeks solid – that was quite a barrier to get over”, he said.
“I eased back into it with a 5k for my first run, and then I got Eilidh to drop me off at Sligachan last night (Sunday) – I had 16 kilometres to run to complete the challenge.
“My mum had said, ‘people will understand that you’ve just had a baby, you can do it in June’, but I wanted to do it in May and raise awareness and I wanted to complete it in time.”
“I ran 14 kilometres back to Portree and then ran about aimlessly through the nature walk, down by Bayfield and across by the Co-op until, finally, my Strava told me it was 16k and that was it – there was only an hour and a half left of May when I completed it!”
He added: “Seeing my wife push through 26 hours of labour days before definitely gave me encouragement to do the last 21km in 23 hours!”
To date, Calum has raised £813.50 for multiple sclerosis research through his running efforts.
Commenting on the support he has received, he said: “13,000 people took part in the May 50k challenge in the UK. I’m in the top 150 people in terms of the money raised so it just shows how generous people have been in their donations.
He added: “I ran 2k in the first week of lockdown and that was sheer hell. Last night I ran 16k – If you were to have told me that I would do that two months ago I wouldn’t have believed you.”
To donate to Calum’s MS fundraiser, just click here.