Shetland runner Charlotte Black completed an epic feat in Perth last weekend, becoming Scottish women’s champion in her first ever 100 kilometre race.
The “ultramarathon” run, which she completed in just under eight hours and 55 minutes, also earned her a British Championship bronze medal.
Her average pace over the 62-mile course was 8.36 minutes a mile. Back in 2007, Charlotte said, she would have struggled to run one mile at that speed.
She had never raced a distance over 40 miles before, though she has run the length of the Shetland Mainland (around 80 miles) at a “leisurely pace”.
Organisers described the course for Sunday’s Perth event as “arguably the toughest” of the road race championships in Britain.
A “surprised but delighted” Charlotte told this newspaper she had not even realised until Monday afternoon that she was Scottish champion.
“It was only on the last lap of the race that I saw the defending champion ahead of me and I worked hard to overtake her and crossed the finish line only to find out she still had another lap to do,” she said.
“It was probably more of a shock to pick up the bronze for the British Championship. I missed the prize-giving because I was very wobbly after the race, and because I was on my own the stewards took me to a tent until they were sure I had warmed up and had some hot food and drink!”
She said the gruelling course, run on tarmac rather than trails, had been “very demanding”.
“It is really hard to run at that pace for 62 miles,” Charlotte said. “The mental side is as hard, perhaps harder than, the physical side. It is difficult to concentrate and remain positive for that length of time and as soon as you lose your focus, the negative thoughts come and your pace slows.
“All the other runners had support teams with them too whereas I travelled to the race on my own. But I think I handled the race well and got my refuelling strategy right.”