When University of Aberdeen careers adviser Kate Robertson set out to run 12 marathons in 12 months, she knew it would be a challenge - but she never expected to contend with a global pandemic, lost luggage, hastily re-planned routes and even a doping test.
The keen runner from Stonehaven began her year-long endeavour in December 2019 and despite the additional hurdles, will complete her final 26-mile race this Sunday, raising more than £5,000 for the Aberdeen neonatal unit.
Kate had expected to end her ‘year’ with the New York Marathon but instead she will take to the streets of Aberdeen dressed as the Statue of Liberty as she runs from her workplace at the University of Aberdeen to Stonehaven, taking in north-east memorials and statues to mark Remembrance Sunday.
Her 12 marathons have taken on some creative forms as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions and her friend and colleague Tracey Innes, Head of the University of Aberdeen’s careers and employability service, was drafted in as last-minute support – running in nine of the 12 races.
Kate said: “Things began well with the Malaga marathon in December but by the Doha marathon in January, things had become a bit more complex!
“Tracey and I were in Qatar as part of a visit to the University’s campus there but unfortunately our luggage didn’t arrive with us. It meant we had to go out the night before the event and hastily buy brand new kit. You really don’t want to be running that far with brand new gear, but we were lucky and it turned out to be great.
“Despite the torrential rain I came in as the 10th woman. Unfortunately this meant a two and a half hour wait for a doping test which was quite unexpected as I was a full 90 minutes behind the elite athletes and just running as an amateur!”
In February Kate ran the Pateley Bridge Pie ‘n’ Pint marathon but by March it was becoming apparent restrictions were imminent and so she teamed up with Tracey to run a virtual race which they dubbed the ‘March Mayhem Marathon’.
By April it wasn’t possible to meet with other households or to go more than five miles beyond your home so Kate turned to her local farmer for help. He gave her permission to run around his field and so she completed a marathon distance in 23 laps, once again supported by Tracey who ran on her treadmill at home and the pair video called to report on progress and encourage each other.
Kate ran the virtual V-E Day marathon in May and in June stepped up the challenge another gear – taking on the 95-mile virtual West Highland way, which she ran the first 26 miles of to tick off marathon number nine before completing the rest over the following 7 days.
July followed with a marathon around Bennachie, in August Kate was able to take part in an organised socially-distant race in Milton Keynes where she was visiting family but struggled in the 30 degree summer heatwave and in September she took on the tough Lairig Ghru mountain pass from Braemar to Aviemore.
For October she ran the virtual London Marathon taking a route from Aberdeen’s neonatal unit, which initially inspired her challenge, back to Stonehaven.
Kate said: “I started the challenge to raise money for the neonatal unit because my own daughter Emily, who is now eight, received treatment there.
“Going from the Unit to Stonehaven was her first ever journey. This is special to all parents but even more so when your children have needed intensive treatment so young.
“I’m delighted people have been so generous in helping me to raise money for such a valuable cause. I set out to raise £3,000 but the total has now exceeded £5,000 which is wonderful.
“It must be even harder for those going through this difficult journey of neonatal treatment during the Covid 19 pandemic and I hope that the money raised will help to support them in some way.
“I’m glad to be reaching the end of this marathon challenge but I couldn’t have got through it without my family who have helped with the ever-changing arrangements and Tracey, who has run nine marathons with me without ever intending to!”
Kate will be joined by Tracey to complete the final marathon on Sunday and they hope to reach Duthie Park by 11am to join the two-minute’s silence for Remembrance Day.
Donations to her challenge can be made through Kate's Just Giving page.