One Scotsman, one huge impact

When people hear of a Scotsman named Andy Murray they automatically think of the tennis player. But a doctor from Scotland with the same name is making headlines of his own.

Dr Andrew Murray is a member of the International Marathon Medical Directors Association and is part of a team researching nutrition and injuries in ultramarathon.  He has been given the challenge of increasing his nation’s fitness levels as their newly appointed physical activity champion.  Incorporating his own experience as a general practitioner and an elite athlete, Dr Murray is passionate about promoting regular physical activity.

In a nation where the majority of the population fail to complete even the minimum of recommended physical activity, Doctor Murray is leading by example and has already attracted media attention from around the globe. Take, for example, his achievements in April this year at the North Pole Marathon. Not only was he the first Scotsman to win the race in its 10 year history [in a time of four hours and 17 minutes], but he was one of the three official doctors for the event. Asked by the media if he would have given up his race victory to help another competitor needing medical attention he didn’t hesitate to respond “I’d have been more than happy to…”.  Doctor Murray took advantage of his opportunity to promote physical activity at the event and is quoted as saying “The message to get active is so important, we are taking it to the ends of the Earth.”

Fast   facts of the North Pole Marathon

  • Temperatures can fall to as low as minus 27 degrees Celsius
  • The event takes place on a 4.2km circuit, completed ten times. This is to minimise the risk of runners getting lost or falling down cracks in the ice
  • Armed guards are stationed at regular intervals to defend runners from polar bears.

Chapter 59 of the new Clinical Sports Medicine textbook titled ‘Exercise at the extremes of cold and altitude’ covers topics such as hypothermia and frostbite and provides advice on the prevention of cold injuries and various methods of measuring body temperature.  It is a must read chapter for any clinician thinking of working with athletes in extreme climates.

If running the North Pole marathon wasn’t enough, last year Dr Murray ran from John O’Groats, which is one of the most northerly points of Scotland, to the Sahara Desert in Morocco, a distance of 4,262km (2,664 miles). This distance is the mind boggling equivalent of running more than 100 marathons in 78 days (averaging 34 miles per day).  Researchers at Coventry University calculated that Dr Murray consumed enough calories per day to fuel three average-sized adults.  The run raised funds for the Mongolian charity Yamaa Trust. Yamaa Trust aims to improve the living conditions in the South Gobi region and raise awareness of the benefits of staying active.

  • Quote:  “The message to get active is so important. I’d urge everyone to do a bit more walking, or whatever form of physical activity suits them. Everything counts. Keep doing the walking, gardening or sport you are already doing and try to build a little more into your life.”
  • Quote: “Regular walking, or any form of physical activity, is  one of the best things you can do for your health. Thirty minutes a day for adults or an hour a day for kids can help prevent heart problems, type 2 diabetes and depression.”
  • Quote: “Research has shown that having a low level of fitness is equivalent in risk to having diabetes, smoking, and being obese combined.”

Other Resources:

  • Podcast:  Listen to the latest BMJ podcast where Professor Karim Khan talks to Doctor Murray after completing his gruelling 2659 mile run from John O’Grotes to the Sahara Desert

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