North-east athlete Mike Raffan has completed a remarkable ultra-distance charity run just seven weeks after recovering from open heart surgery.
The Collieston-based runner was treated in February for a rare coronary artery problem but has wasted little time in getting back into action.
Last weekend he ran an astonishing 106 miles on a 50m out-and-back lap around the grounds of his cliff-top house overlooking the North Sea.
It took him 27 hours 30 minutes and he stopped on only a couple of occasions for a 20-minute break.
He said: “I told most people I was aiming to run 30 miles, but in my head I always wanted to try for 100.
“I just didn’t know what my body would be capable of doing.
“I did the run in my back garden and on the communal open space around my house.
“It ended up being 1,706 laps, but it was handy because I passed my kitchen door on every lap, so there was no problem getting any food and drinks I needed.
“Prior to this, because of my illness, the longest I have run since March last year was eight miles, so I am pleased to have been able to do 106 in one go.”
Raffan, 40, is one of the north-east’s most accomplished ultra-distance runners.
He won the Great Glen Ultra 70-mile race between Fort William and Inverness on three occasions between 2014 and 2017. He also set a record time of 22 hours 35 minutes for the Cateran Trail 110-mile ultra in 2014.
The longest he’s run non-stop was 253 miles from one end of Wales to the other a few years back.
But his running ambitions were dealt a severe blow 18 months ago when his heart problem first emerged.
Raffan said: “I was running uphill one day and felt a serious shortness of breath and a heavy weight on my chest.
“I got it checked out and fortunately the cardiologist I saw was a runner, so that helped a lot.
“They discovered one of my arteries had grown in the wrong place.
“I call it a piece of dodgy plumbing and I had been born with it, although it never showed up as a problem until then.
“I had to wait a while for the surgery to correct it and I finally went through the operation in late February.
“Luckily it was carried out before the coronavirus lockdown, otherwise it would have been delayed.
“Afterwards I was in intensive care for one day, then in high dependency for one day, before spending another day in a normal ward.
“By then I had passed all the fitness tests they gave me – despite this normally taking seven to 10 days.
“I was the first person they had seen who was able to go home three days after this kind of operation.
“I’m sure my fitness from being an ultra-distance runner really helped me get through it and recover so quickly.
“After another 10 days I went for a run with my wife, but it was very slow and I kept feeling as though I had to hold my chest.
“I contacted a physio who suggested it might be better to do some cycling instead as there would be less impact.
“I had only done five very short runs since leaving hospital before taking on the ultra at the weekend.”