William (born 1st October 1953) is a British and Scottish international ultra-marathon athlete and has set multiple ultra distance running records (from 30 miles on the track to 3100 miles/ 5000 kms on the road) at World, British and Scottish level including age-group records.
Highlights in William’s career so far are: Marathon: 2:38 (1995), 100 km 7:07 (1996), 24 Hours: 153 miles/246 km (2000), 6 Days: 532 miles/857 km (2008), 1000 Miles: 13 days, 20 hours, 8 minutes, 1 second (2010) and the World’s Longest Certified Footrace – 3100 Miles/5000 km (2014): 50 days, 15 hours, 6 minutes, 4 seconds. William is the only ever British athlete to have finished this event inside the current 52 day cut-off.
Since 1994 William has competed in 109 ultra-marathon events – winning 18 of them. William has recorded 24,410.34 miles in races alone. That’s an average of 223.948 miles per race.
He has made 18 international team appearances in total (GB 11 and Scotland 7)
Currently William is attempting to set 750 ultra running records at World, British and Scottish level, including age groups, in a project he is calling “Journey to 750” – Achieved February 2020.
Current total is 773 records including 104 World Age-Group records.
My main interest in the sport of ultra distance running has always been personal curiosity and all aspects of athletic performance. For me the sport is simply an extension of traditional road and track racing – a certified distance and a stop watch! For that reason, I have always focused my efforts on road, track and indoor ultras.
Once I got into multiday running, in 2006, the historical aspects of the sport became of great interest and remain one of my driving motivations today.
Setting a record is creating a bit of history and I hope to continue making history for as long as I’m able to. Once a record is ‘in the books’ it is there for posterity and can be an inspiration for others to aim for and break in the future. Having said that, I always consider that a record is just borrowed and I hope and expect that all my records will be broken at some time in the future.”
Did You Know?
At talks and presentations, it’s not uncommon for people to approach me and say words to the effect of “It’s OK for you William, you’re the perfect physical specimen”. If I only they knew! I’m not going to bore you with my detailed medical history but……………
- Knock Knees as a child – treated with built up shoes
- One leg 1” longer than the other. Observed by podiatrist and chiropractor. Not that uncommon but can give rise to issues
- Had a ‘weak chest’, Dr’s description, from 1982-92, with repeated chest infections in winter, after moving to Orkney. Running cured it and I never saw a doctor again for that!
- Testicular Cancer in 1997 – that wasn’t in the plans! Had surgery and radiotherapy and an amazing recovery.
- Raynaud’s Syndrome – poor circulation in fingers and toes – not life-threatening but not great either and seems to be getting worse
- I struggled with stomach issues in races for many years, almost to the point that my future in the sport was in doubt. Worst of all was in 24 hour and 48 hour races, illustrated by the fact that, at one point I had experienced vomiting in 29 out of 30, 24 hour races. Nowadays the situation is very much improved and doesn’t impact my performances any more.
Apart from the above I will say that I consider myself well suited to ultra distance running:
- Small & light weight – 5′ 5″/1.63m tall and weighing approx 9st 2lbs or 128lbs/58kgs
- Strong and robust for my size – always working on it
- Economical running style – good bio mechanics but always working on it
- Good ‘fat burner’ – fuel efficient (fasted training) – always working on it
- Mentally strong – always working on it
Everything is a work in progress!
I am a big fan of veteran/master’s athletics and believes that athletic performances by masters athletes are hugely unsung.
I believe people in their middle age and later years also need role models and people to inspire them – I try to do that and ‘fly the flag’ for the over 60’s.