Brora Rangers manager Steven Mackay will attempt to break a 100-mile barrier when he aims to run four marathons in 24 hours next weekend.
Mackay has set himself his latest ultramarathon challenge, almost exactly 12 months after completing an 80-mile run from Inverness to Brora last summer.
The 39-year-old will now look to run 104.8 miles from Harmsworth Park in Wick starting at 3pm on Friday – a distance totalling four marathons – with the target of finishing at Bught Park in Inverness by the same time the following day.
Mackay said: “The run last year was great, and the momentum and coverage it got was excellent.
“The money we raised was the whole point behind it. I felt I wanted to do something similar, but sometimes you can feel like a bit of a pest when you are asking people to donate to things all the time.
“I thought in order to ask people to reach into their pockets again 12 months later, I had to do something a bit more challenging.
“The 80 miles was pretty challenging so I’m a little bit apprehensive about this one, just in terms of the timings of it.
“I’ll be delighted to complete it first and foremost, but to do it in 24 hours will be tough. There is not much room for error.
“I’m looking forward to it, I’m a bit nervous about it but I’ll certainly give it my best shot. It’s all about trying to reach that target of £20,000 which I can hopefully do.”
Former Ross County player Mackay will draw on support at various stages of the run from former team-mates Craig Campbell, Don Cowie, David Hind, Neil MacDonald and Richie Hart, along with former Wick Academy players Sam Mackay and Nigel MacKenzie.
Mackay, who retired from playing in December, feels now is the time to attempt his goal of hitting a three-figure target.
He added: “To break that 100-mile barrier is something I always thought would be quite a good thing to achieve.
“Up until 12 months ago I had only run one marathon, so to go from that up to 100 miles seemed a bit extreme.
“I just thought that if I was going to try and achieve the 100 miles I would have to think about it soon.
“I’m going to be 40 soon so the window of opportunity will lessen with the older I get.
“The legs feel good and I feel strong enough, so I felt now was the time to do it.
“I have been training pretty hard for it. I have done a lot of hill running and a lot of elevated running, which has been good.
“I did a run at the end of last month to test where I was. I did 52 miles and I felt OK, mentally I felt quite strong although the legs felt quite sore.
“Once the event starts, with about 15 or 16 people who have signed up for different parts of it, having that company will keep me motivated during the dark moments when the legs start to pinch.
“I’m relatively confident I can do it. I’m just a little bit apprehensive about the timings of it and how it all develops.”
Mackay’s run last year raised more than £17,000 for disadvantaged children in the north of Scotland.
The Brora boss saw first-hand the impact his efforts made through young Cattachs fan Max Ainsworth who has cerebral palsy, with the funds which were raised allowing his family to purchase a new specialist wheelchair.
Mackay added: “I saw the link with a young boy who is always at the games with his family.
“His parents managed to get money towards a new wheelchair. Up until then he couldn’t join his brother Milo on the beach because of his chair.
“The way it supports him he can now run with it.
“Sometimes you can do an event and people donate to it but they don’t really see where that money goes.
“It was really nice to physically see some of the money getting spent locally in Brora, and to help a young fan of the club.”
Mackay’s fundraising page can be accessed at https://www.cashforkidsgive.co.uk/campaign/steven-mackay-2021-challenge/fundraisers/steven-mackay/