Daredevil Kirk minister draws on faith to complete 'skyrace'
Published on 21 September 2021
A minister is on top of the world after completing a gruelling race across the summits of some of Scotland's most stunning mountains.
Rev Jim Stewart, 53, competed against people half his age from around the world in the 18-mile Salomon Ring of Steall Skyrace in the Highlands on Saturday.
He drew deeply on his faith for strength as he ran and scrambled across extremely challenging terrain, including two ridges and four Munros - mountains higher than 3,000 feet - in Lochaber.
Mr Stewart, minister of Letham St Mark's Church in Perth, climbed to a height of 8,400 feet and completed the epic race in 7 hours 34 minutes - four minutes ahead of his target time.
"It is the toughest and hardest thing that I have ever done, you have to be on the ball the whole race because there are ridges with 200-300 feet falls either side," he explained.
"There is a lot of scrambling and you literally lead with your hands during the last climb to pull yourself up.
"It was mentally and physically draining and tested me to the limit, particularly during the descent which was the scariest bit."
Mr Stewart said he prayed to God throughout the course, which ran between the Mamores, the name of a group of mountains, and Kinlochleven, to give him and the other runners the strength to keep going.
"There were a few times when I thought I was going to meet God, never mind being close to him," he joked.
"You'll always have a few dark moments during an event like this because you are reaching deeply into your soul.
"Halfway along the route I had an issue with eating and there were moments when my calorie intake was non-existent.
"I am praying ‘Lord, what do I do here?
"I need some strength and help.
"A woman whom I did not know appeared, realised that I was struggling and handed me a packet of salt tablets.
"She was an angel in disguise and helped me complete the race."
The super-fit minister finished 379th out of 538 people.
"Although you are doing the running, you cannot do an event like this on your own," said Mr Stewart.
"People taking part and lining part of the route were so friendly and encouraging with some calling out ‘keep going, buddy' and I did the same for others."
While taking part in endurance events, Mr Stewart said he liked to reflect on a verse from Isaiah, chapter 40 which says ‘those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength and soar on wings like eagles'.
Asked how he felt after the race, he replied: "I am a bit sore and have some bruises because I had a couple of wee falls because it was slippy and boggy in places.
"But overall I am feeling good, I cycled around 40 miles yesterday so my legs are fine and I am just very grateful that God turned up for me on the day in abundance."