With the first ever journey of the Olympic torch around Scotland coming to an end this week and the games fast approaching, we thought it would be a good time to revisit and remember the long distance fundraising feat of Professor Neil Garrod in 2001. 11 years ago he made the epic journey from Rome to Glasgow to celebrate the 550th anniversary of the University and all on foot!
Professor Neil Garrod joined the University of Glasgow in 1993 as Professor of Accounting and Finance before becoming the Head of the Department in 1994 until 1997. He was then Dean of the Faculty of Law and Financial Studies from 2000 to 2002. Neil then left the University of Glasgow to take up the position of Executive Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He is now Deputy Vice Chancellor (Resources) at the University of Greenwich.
Neil, who has always enjoyed watching and participating in long distance running, decided to take up the challenge of running the 1,500 mile route starting at the Vatican City and ending in Glasgow. The journey echoes that of the Papal Bull (our founding charter), from Pope Nicholas authorising Bishop Turnbull of Glasgow to set up a University in 1451. Neil’s favourite races are the 5,000 and 10,000 metres though this endurance certainly topped those distances by being over 2,000 kilometres long.
Neil had been inspired to attempt this great feat by the story of Bruce Tulloh: British long-distance running representative in the European Championships in Belgrade 1962. In 1970 Neil read Bruce Tulloh’s book “Four Million Footsteps” that charted his world record attempt to cross the United States from Los Angeles to New York in 65 days. Neil says on his website that ‘The whole concept of such an epic ignited inside me’.You can find out more about Neil’s motivation, the route he took, or read his journey diary on his ‘Mega-Run’ website.
Beginning his race on the 23rd April 2001, he arrived back in Glasgow on the 20th June and to achieve this, he had to run over 25 miles a day! When asked last week about his memories of this epic event Neil said:
“Why did I do it? I had always wanted to run a challenge such as this and the 550th anniversary seemed like a perfect time and opportunity. Finishing was both ecstatic, as I had done it, and because by this time I was feeling absolutely exhausted and weary, and also very sad. For 61 days I had been living in a different world. Totally self absorbed, experiencing emotions of such intensity and such profusion that it was becoming a drug of which I just wanted more and more. Would I do it again? Any day of the week. Rome-Glasgow was 61 marathons in 61 days.”
The University held a 5km fun-run to celebrate the last leg of Neil’s journey and to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation. Participants joined Neil on this last stretch and a crowd welcomed the successful athlete home at the finish line which was at the University Memorial gates: where the Olympic torch passed just last Friday.
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