A former Kirkcaldy man is in training for a red hot challege which would make most people’s blood run cold.
Mark Ellison (42), who grew up in Templehall and attended Dunearn Primary and Kirkcaldy High Schools, is taking on a 250km footrace across some of Iceland’s wildest terrain in the Fire and Ice Ultra race.
The competition, which runs from August 29-September 3, will see Mark take on dunes of black volcanic ash and expanding lava fields, alongside glacial river crossings and boiling mud fields in an endurance course which tests the boldest characters.
And if that wasn’t enough, he will be carrying all his food and kit – around 8kg – on his back, and wearing special shoes designed to emulate the Luna sandals he trains in. The sandals are designed for Mark to run with his foot striking the ground from the front and not the heel, as he bases his running on the methods of a tribe who reside in the mountains of Mexico.
But former 1st Batallion Kings Own Scottish Borders soldier Mark isn’t letting the daunting challenge faze him.
“Running through a mountain range or a forest trail for hours and connecting with the elements does strip you apart. There is an old saying “If you can’t solve your problems on a three hour run, you will never solve them. I don’t run to get fit, it’s not a hobby – it’s who I am,” he said.
Another thing which will encourage Mark to keep going will be the fact that he is running to raise money for Erskine Hospital for ex-veterans. He decided to support the hospital after a conversation with his hairdresser, who also has connections to the regiment.
Erskine celebrates its centenary this year, having been set up to cope with the war wounded during the First World War, and Mark, who now lives with his partner Louise in Alloa, hopes to raise over £1000 in sponsorship.
Despite leaving Kirkcaldy in 2010 he still has strong connections here, with family members including his daughter, brother, mum and grandad still living in the town.
After leaving Kirkcaldy High School he went into the Army, serving for six years with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, then studied for an HND in fitness, health and exercise at Fife College.
He became fitness manager at Priory Park Gym before moving into social services, working with people with autism, additional needs and challenging behaviour. He now works in a residential home for children in Fife.
He said: “I have completely funded the race myself so every penny I raise will go to Erskine Hospital. My kit that I require is specialist and due to my own personal goals, I have gone minimal, which means no luxuries.”
If you would like to sponsor Mark, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Mark-W-Ellison0864?