Ice cool Kirkcaldy man completes red hot challenge

Mark reaches the finishing line

Mark reaches the finishing line

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A former Kirkcaldy soldier has completed one of the toughest challenges of his life to raise money for injured ex servicemen.

Mark William Ellison (43), who grew up in Templehall and whose family still live in the town, has just spent six days running through some of the most inhospitable terrain in Iceland in the Fire and Ice Ultra race.

And in the process Mark, who now lives in Alloa with his partner Louise Douglas, has raised over £500 for Erskine Hospital which provides care for veterans, with more money still coming in.

The 155-mile long race started in the north of Iceland, with Mark flying from capital Reykjavik to Akureyri by private plane before boarding an off-road coach for transport to the race starting point.

The challenging course then covered an eclectic range of terrain including lava rock, volcanic ash which could be mistaken for sand dunes and two water crossings, and a wide range of temperatures.

Competitors had to carry all their own kit, and Mark’s weighed in at 10kg, although tents were provided at the end of each stage.

Mark explained: “Day three was the longest day. This was 40 miles and we ran in severe weather conditions. A high percentage of runners dropped out, some came down with hypothermia. Myself and a few other runners helped a fellow runner who had the early stages of hypothermia, and while we waited for him to be medically evacuated, some of the other runners became cold.

“I felt my own temperature dropping, but my military training and knowledge kicked in and when I began to run again I managed to raise my core temperature by pumping my arms very quickly while running.

“Ironically the following day, which was only 26 miles, took its toll. I had muscle fatigue in my legs and the sun was beating down. I can honestly say it was tough, but not enough to quit!

“I treated the race as a series of back-to-back mini races, and due to my intense training in Scotland’s Cairngorm mountain range, I was able to adapt to most of the challenges that presented themselves. I am also a vegan and I felt that my plant based diet helped with my recovery from each stage.

“During the final stage it hit home that I was running for veterans and my mantra ‘dig in’ kept me going. To conclude the race, we had to climb the top of a volcano. On the summit I could see the finish line, four miles away and that spurred me on. It was certainly one of the biggest challenges of my life so far, and I was delighted when I crossed the finish line.”

To donate to Mark’s fundraising total, see www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-W-Ellison0864?