Super Mario does the Highland Fling!

On Saturday (30th April) Mario Freitas Neto, a student studying his BMSc in Applied Orthopaedic Technology at the TORT Centre, ran the Hoka Highland Fling, a 53-mile ultramarathon trail race with 7500 feet of vertical gain. The route follows the West Highland Way, Scotland’s oldest official long distance footpath, through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, from Milngavie to Tyndrum and takes place each year April.

This was Mario’s first race of any distance greater than half-marathon (13.1 miles) but he decided to tackle it as he was unsure when he would next have the opportunity to be here in Scotland to enter the event as he will shortly be heading home to Brazil once he completes his studies.

Mario began his preparation for the event in November last year slowly building up his mileage to 28 miles in a single training run. After many long hard hours trail running and pounding the streets of Dundee eventually everything started to come together very quickly in the short preparation time Mario had available before the event.

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Left: Mario with fellow race entrants Bruce and Jordan at the start line; Middle: Mario smiling through the pain; Right: The perfect way to end the day - celebrating with friends.

At the race finish, Mario was greeted by many of his friends who had driven from Dundee to cheer him on and encourage him when the going got tough. There were a few tears of pride and plenty of emotion from Mario and his friends when he crossed the line after running for an astonishing 14.31 hours!

Mario stated: “What motivated me was the challenge. I've always set myself physical challenges that are bigger than I think I can handle. This happened before when I cycled through a few states of Brazil and when I crossed Chilean Patagonia in a month by myself, wild-camping. The idea of expanding my limits, even though it scares me, excites me".

Mario added: "The race was the biggest challenge I've done so far. The first 27.2 miles went well but from there I got very tired and had to grind out the last eight hours of the run. I'm sure the beauty of the route and the amazing weather we had motivated me throughout the race. My friends were stars, making sure I was feeling fine at the end of the race and that I had everything I needed afterwards. Scotland is such a stunning place I would urge others, perhaps not to run 53 miles, but to go out and enjoy what is on your door step”.

Professor Rami Abboud stated: “This is an amazing achievement for Mario stepping up to 53 miles from the 13.1 miles he had ran previously. I hope his current research ‘Gait efficiency in healthy individuals while treadmill running in different classes of running shoes’ gave him some benefits in completing this gruelling event. I think I can speak for all the staff and students at TORT when I say that we are all very proud of Mario and his achievement”.

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Mario collecting data for his BMSc research at the Institute of Motion Analysis and Research at the TORT Centre.