PICTURES: It's no Brora to Steven! Highland League football manager Mackay conquers four marathons within 24 hours for MFR Cash For Kids – from Wick to Inverness – and makes training the next morning!
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A Highland League football manager who ran four marathons within 24 hours from Wick to Inverness at the weekend is close to realising his £20,000 fundraising target for disadvantaged youngsters.
Steven Mackay spent much of his 40th birthday on Saturday in the throes of agony and exhaustion after setting off from Wick’s Harmsworth Park on Friday at 3pm.
Valiantly battling extremes of fatigue and sleep deprivation, the ultra-runner clocked up 104.8 miles in
23 hours and 39 minutes to complete the challenge at Bught Park in the Highland capital on Saturday afternoon.
As the Caithness Courier went to press, Steven’s fundraising total for MFR Cash for Kids was still rising and just short of the £17,800 figure raised last year on an 80-mile run.
Accompanied along the way by an array of friends and former team-mates in marathon-length sections, Steven said his greatest emotion at the finish was relief.
“I always felt relatively confident I could get to the 80-mile mark, as I’d done that the year before from Inverness to Brora,” he said.
“It was always going to be a mental battle after that and, after 90 miles, the legs were sore to a degree I’d never experienced.
“I just had to get through it, and it was a magnificent feeling to get to the finish line.”
The lowest spell came during marathon three, between Golspie and Invergordon, when he began to lose some coordination. But by the Tore roundabout, Steven – manager of Highland League champions Brora Rangers – knew he would make it.
“I put myself under a bit of pressure to beat 24 hours,” he said.
“It didn’t matter so much to the fundraiser, but I knew I’d be disappointed if I didn’t achieve that.
“The long climb up from the Cromarty Bridge really took a lot out of me in the final marathon, but I was able to really enjoy it coming over the Kessock Bridge. It was a lovely feeling seeing Inverness with a piper piping us across.
“It felt like I was home and the pain almost disappeared, as strange as that sounds.
“My eldest, Dylan (12), did a marathon, and my youngest Mason (7) and his friend Finn Henderson ran the final three miles with me. I was worried they might slow the pace, but they were flying!”
Steven, operations manager with welding firm Langfields, gave a special mention to friend Seana Forbes, who set out to run the first marathon but ended up running two.
Seana was among those who joined Steven for the first part of the run from Wick on Friday afternoon. Also in at the start were his former team-mates David Hind and Neil MacDonald and ex-Wick players Sam Mackay and Nigel Mackenzie.
Brora committee member Donald Grant followed behind in a car topped by a sign warning of runners on the road.
Those wishing to support Steven can make a donation here