Running reverends take on marathon challenge
Published on 30 September 2022 3 minutes read
Two "running revs" will take on marathon challenges at opposite ends of Britain this weekend in aid of good causes.
While Rev Sarah Ross of East Kilbride Moncreiff Parish Church is heading north for the Loch Ness Marathon, Highland counterpart Rev James Bissett is heading the other way to join the many thousands participating in the London Marathon.
This will be the first full marathon for Mr Bissett, currently locum minister at Old High St Stephen's in Inverness, although he had a taster last year by signing up for the virtual London Marathon.
"They give you an app for your phone and it tracks your own course. Folk all across the world are doing it," he explained
Mr Bissett's chosen course could hardly have been more different from the London Marathon's urban setting, taking him across the Highlands from Achnasheen to Strathpeffer, while fitting in a couple of sermons along the way and taking in obstacles the London runners did not have to negotiate.
"I ran to Lochluichart, did a sermon there, carried on to Contin, did a service there, and then on to Strathpeffer," he said.
"It was tipping it down and there was a stream I had to ford, so one of my congregation turned up with his tractor to help me get across, but we raised a couple of grand for mental health, which was really good."
For the London Marathon, Mr Bissett will be running in aid of the charity Whizz-Kidz, which provides wheelchairs and other mobility aids for disabled children, something he can relate to after his wife, Rev Susan Cord, minister at Killeranan Parish Church on the Black Isle, broke her ankle.
"We had to borrow a wheelchair and it was heavy and the wheels were too far back," he said.
"If you have a kid who has a chair that is the wrong size for them, it is next to useless and there is no independence."
A relative newcomer to running after taking up the Couch to 5K challenge early last year, he has no recordbreaking ambitions for Sunday's event.
"I don't care how long it takes me. I just want to get over the line in a time that can be measured on a stopwatch and not a calendar!" he laughed.
A family run
Rev Sarah Ross also began running with Couch to 5Km as part of a drive to improve her mental health and general fitness, and dropping four stone in the process. After completing her first half marathon in Edinburgh in May, Loch Ness will also be her first full marathon.
"Ministry is such an unpredictable environment to work in that it is difficult to commit to something on a regular basis, whereas running I can do any time of the day," she said.
"The marathon is the ultimate goal once you have clocked up the 5K, the 10K and the half marathon, so it's a natural progression."
Mrs Ross, who raised £3000 for her previous church at Blantyre by running a total of 100 miles in a month, will also be raising money for her church which recently received funding through the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund to become more accessible and climate friendly.
"The last part of the project is to convert some of the space into a café and drop-in space because there is hardly anywhere locally to have a coffee with folks, and improve disabled access," she added.
The Loch Ness Marathon will be something of a family affair as not only is she running with her husband and training partner Stuart, but her sisters Rachel and Eileen are also taking on the Loch Ness Challenge.
Gartcosh and Glenboig minister Rev David Slater was also hoping to run the Loch Ness Marathon in aid of MND Scotland, but unfortunately has had to cancel at short notice after becoming unwell.
To support Rev James Bissett and Whizz-Kidz, you can donate at www.justgiving.com/RevRunsLondon
Rev Sarah Ross is running in support of Moncrieff Parish Church and can be supported at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/revsarahruns