Kyle Greig is rightly being hailed as a hero by the local running community despite not being able to break either of the world treadmill running records he set out to crack.
The 34-year-old Metro Aberdeen club member had his eyes on the world best of 12hr 9min 15secs for 100 miles and the 24-hour record of 164.36 miles.
But an excruciating hip problem brought the Great Britain trail running international’s dreams to a crushing halt after 18 hours when he finally succumbed to the pain and suffering he’d endured throughout much of the day.
Greig could quite easily have thrown in the towel much earlier, but he was determined to keep going for as long as possible, motivated by the fact that his efforts were helping others.
He’d attracted £4000 in sponsorship for two children’s charities – Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) and the Gathimba Edwards Foundation (GEF) – prior to the run, but that figure more than doubled by the end as online viewers of the action were inspired to donate.The tally has since reached £10,000 and is still growing.
Aberdeen’s Scotland international athlete Myles Edwards, co-founder of GEF, which supports young people and their families in Kenya, was in awe of Greig’s performance.
He said: “For those 18 hours Kyle was a warrior and an inspiration. Inspiration is a word that gets used a lot but witnessing what he did was like nothing I’ve ever seen. He was in agony yet he still kept going and gave absolutely everything.
“He gambled by going for the 100 mile record on the way to the 164 mile 24-hour world record and on this occasion it didn’t happen, but I have no doubt he’s capable of both of those records if his hip wasn’t an issue.
“He has raised over £5,000 for each of the charities and we are so grateful. On top of GEF being able to build a brand new house for one family, we will be able to complete a water project at our GEF village in Kabaru, which will give five families access to running water for farming, drinking and washing. Also, we will now be able to get solar power for two family houses.
“The money he raised for CHAS is going to enable them to do even more of the amazing work they already do to support babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. Kyle is simply a hero to so many people.”
Greig got off to an encouraging start, impressively knocking out some 7min 15secs miles en route to completing his first marathon of the day in 3hr 11min.
He remained on target for the 100 mile record for six hours, covering a little more than 49 miles. This also placed him well ahead of schedule for the 24-hour target. But then the hip problem began to flare up, so he abandoned the 100-mile target and refocused on the 24 hours.
He kept going at a good rate, encouraged and refuelled from the sidelines by a vocal support team and a series of motivational video clips from running friends.
Greig maintained a consistent pace through eight hours (62 miles), 10 hours (74 miles) and 12 hours (87 miles). The record was still within reach at 16 hours, but it was becoming apparent from his pained expression, and the increasingly frequent need to address the hip problem, that he was in trouble. He battled on doggedly for another two hours before reluctantly stepping off.
Afterwards he said: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’m not going to do it again. I was in trouble before six hours when the hip started to bother me. It’s a problem with the hip flexor or psoas muscle, which was getting inflamed and irritating a nerve.
“I used a massage gun to deal with it and that certainly made a difference. I reached 100 miles in 14 hours and at that point I was still on schedule for the 24 hour record.
“But every hour was agony and I slowed dramatically. Eventually I could barely move.
“I know that I’ll never break a world record in mainstream athletics events, but I saw the treadmill records as something I was capable of doing. With different tactics I might have got one of the records. Maybe if I had just focused on the 24-hour record and not tried for the 100-mile one at the start, it might have been different. Who knows? If you don’t try, you’ll never know. I’m glad I gave it a go.
“I wasn’t disappointed at not completing the 24 hours because I’d done what I could, but I was very emotional seeing all the donations coming in and knowing this was changing people’s lives. I’ve never been part of something like this before.
The focus was on me, but I had so many people supporting me, it was fantastic. The running community is so positive.”