A MARLOW runner followed in the footsteps of Romans and Druids to win an 85-mile endurance race over three days at the weekend.
The Ridgeway path tracks back through the years to the stone age and beyond.
Its drier, highground route was favoured by traders and farmers but that was the last thing on the mind of 56-year-old John Dooey, who turned back the clock himself to win his age category of the Druids Challenge from Ivinghoe Beacon to Wiltshire in 13 hours of hard slog.
He said: “I had a very good first day and a very good second day, but after two thirds of the third day I fell apart. Every ounce of energy went and it was just survival after that.
“It’s quite a hilly finish too, but I didn’t have quitting in mind. I don’t quit. You just have to tell yourself you’re near the end.”
Dooey, who was competing against runners 30 years his junior, ran the race last year when he hit the wall after the first day.
He said: “I didn’t do too well and did wonder if I could come back and do it again. I’ve run 100km in a day before, but The Ridgeway is quite challenging.
“It’s offroad and very muddy. You spend the first half of the day looking at the scenery and thinking, ‘I’m happy to be a runner’, and the second half of the day you’re just thinking about the end.
“You have to concentrate or you will have some bad thoughts.”
Dooey was helped home by some of his Handy Cross Runners team-mates. Sam Amend, who won the event last year, ran part of the way with him on day two and she, Eddie O’Gorman and Trevor Hunter joined him for the final stages on day three.
Dooey said: “I’m 56, not many people my age can run those distance and at that speed.
“It does help seeing a friendly face, but I don’t know if I’ll do it again next year.
“It’s too soon. Afterwards I said no, but then I said that last year too.”