This page has been archived as it's no longer updated.

For the latest news, visit our main site.
Feed News
Scot makes history as first woman to run 680-mile epic challenge

Scot makes history as first woman to run 680-mile epic challenge

A runner has made history as the first woman to complete a 680-mile challenge across Scotland.

Elspeth Luke ran the Scottish Watershed, a demanding route from Peel Fell at the Scottish borders to Duncansby Head near John o' Groats.

The route includes a vast range of landscapes from bogs, forests and dirt tracks, taking in 44 Munros and 24 Corbetts.

Greeted by family and friends, the 33-year-old from Glasgow reached the Watershed finish line on Saturday, after 34 days running an average of 20 miles per day.

It was the morale boost Ms Luke needed to sprint the final stretch.

She said: "I knew there was going to be a small group waiting for me. I was running with my friend Rob Reid that final day and he said to me "Go on ahead, this is your moment."

"It was wonderful because I really did want to sprint that last bit. I saw the banner and all these bottles lined up and it was a really lovely moment.

"It was never a race but that final moment spurred me on."

via STV via STV

Having run long distance since her university days, it was a sense of adventure that pushed Ms Luke to the gargantuan undertaking - but she was also helping vulnerable people in need.

Through an online crowdfunding page, the runner has helped raise over £7000 for Funding Neuro - a Glasgow-based charity that funds research on brain and spinal diseases including brain tumours, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's.

The charity's work is particularly important to Ms Luke, as her father Warren is living with Parkinson's.

  (STV)
via STV via STV

Pictured: Elspeth with dad Warren and mother Catharine

Ms Luke originally intended to run the Watershed with 62-year-old Stuart MacFarlane, who was integral to planning the trip.

After the journey commenced, it was decided that the pair would part ways and Mr MacFarlane would go on a separate route, also fundraising for Funding Neuro.

  (Elspeth Luke)
via STV via STV

'Trapped in a nightmare'

A freelance violinist originally from Falkirk, she is no stranger to the wild Scottish terrain and unpredictable climate.

She has completed a number of challenges including the West Highland Way, the Three Peaks Challenge and a cycle from Lands End to John o' Groats.

via STV via STV

Image credit: Richard Bannister

But nothing had quite prepared her for the most harrowing part of her journey - a 13-mile struggle through bog, wind and rain.

She said: "I knew I had a big week of tackling 24 Munros in six days - those 13 miles came afterwards and I just kept going over it in my head.

"You play these mind games with yourself and the weather was pretty horrible, so the track was almost unrunnable.

"The terrain was really undulating and featureless so you feel like you are making no progress - I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare."

via STV via STV

Image credit: Richard Bannister

Along the way Ms Luke was accompanied by family and friends who helped keep her morale intact during the most harrowing sections of the journey.

Her support crew, photographer and fellow runner Richard Bannister and parents were vital company that urged her on during the toughest days.

via STV via STV

Image credit: Richard Bannister

Having arrived back home unscathed, she is already looking forward to some short-distance running and is hatching plans for her next challenge.

She also hopes her journey along the Scottish Watershed will earn votes to win £10,000 in funding for Funding Neuro as part of a charity competition run by Mountain Warehouse.

Ms Luke added: "Of course I want to do something else but it might not be on this scale. I've got an ultra marathon in the autumn and I'm excited to get out and do some short runs again.

"Hopefully I'll find my fast legs if I've got any left."

The Watershed

The Watershed follows Scotland's drainage divide line that separates rivers flowing east into the North Sea from those that flow west into the Atlantic Ocean.

A total of seven people have completed the route from Dave Hewitt who walked the Cape Wrath route in 1987 to Colin Meek, the first person to run the entire way in 2012.

Her inspiration came from Peter Wright, who walked the distance in 2005 and documented the experience in the Ribbon of Wildness book trilogy.

What do you think? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

Previous Next Close

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.

Let's get you set up on the STV Player.

This field is required. The code must be 5 characters long. Sorry, we don't recognise that code. Please try again.