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Lorna's 130-mile run from Thurso and Wick to Raigmore will highlight 'nightmare situation' over hospital trips

By Alan Hendry

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Lorna Stanger making her way south through Brora during one of her previous runs from Thurso to Inverness. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios
Lorna Stanger making her way south through Brora during one of her previous runs from Thurso to Inverness. Picture: Robert MacDonald / Northern Studios

A Thurso woman is preparing to set off on a gruelling 130-mile run to highlight the "nightmare situation" facing people who have to travel from Caithness to Inverness for hospital treatment.

Lorna Stanger intends to complete the equivalent of five marathons, starting at Thurso's Dunbar Hospital at midnight on Tuesday and continuing to Caithness General Hospital in Wick before going all the way to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

She hopes to finish the run in around 30 hours, arriving at Raigmore on Thursday morning – despite struggling with a sore hip.

The 52-year-old is keen to raise awareness of the difficulties experienced by people from the far north who are expected to make their way to the Highland capital for a range of reasons – from giving birth to attending clinics, pre-op assessments or mental health appointments.

Lorna will also be raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Caithness Health Action Team (CHAT).

She is a qualified sports and advanced remedial massage therapist and an experienced endurance athlete. Last year, after lockdown rules had been relaxed slightly, she ran to Inverness, then cycled the North Coast 500 and pedalled back from Inverness to Thurso in five days – raising £5000 for Macmillan.

Explaining the motivation for next week's run, Lorna said: “It's mostly for awareness for CHAT because so many people from the north do have to make that trip to Inverness. It's a long, long trip no matter how you look at it.

“They only have pre-op assessments on a certain day in Inverness and they have to have a whole day of people travelling down from the north, whereas they could actually do them at the places where the people live – it would make it easier for everybody.

“When people have to go to Inverness sometimes they have to take time off, they have to drop everything, they have to arrange transport... I don't have a car – my only transport is my legs.

“It's often a case of taking a whole day out for a five-minute appointment. A lot of the time people are having to go off in the small hours down to Raigmore.

“Even if it's a straightforward two-and-a-half-hour journey it's bad enough, but then when you factor in any complications it's a nightmare situation."

Lorna will have to cope with a long-term injury affecting her left hip.

“Because of my hip it'll probably be a slower pace," she said. “My view now is that I can't go fast, but I can go far.

“I've been carrying it for a few years now – I've had a few treatments but it's a chronic thing. It has slowed me down a lot but I can cope with it.

"If I try to go faster it hurts more, so I just have to manage the pain.

“I have people saying, 'Why do you even do it?' But why not? There are people with no legs that can try and do stuff like this, amputees... There are people with a lot worse than I have that have done a lot bigger things.

"I'm making the most of my situation and trying to help others while I'm at it."

Lorna will be having an ice-cream break at Brora on her way south. “I plan to have a couple of rests but not long,” she said.

She is considering taking a bike in her support vehicle and cycling home, but that will depend on how she is feeling after the run and on what the weather is like.

Last month Lorna took part in the 66-mile Loch Ness Etape cycling event and rode back to Thurso afterwards.

CHAT vice-chairman Ron Gunn said: "This is a fantastic thing Lorna is planning. She is an amazing person who is prepared to run from Dunbar Hospital to Caithness General and then on to Raigmore to highlight the issues that face people who are expected to travel between Caithness and Inverness.

"The fact that she is prepared to start her run at midnight raises awareness that expectant mothers also have to make their way to Raigmore during the night.

"Lorna hopes to raise funds for Macmillan and CHAT and we wish her the best of luck in this epic run. We will be there to cheer her on at the Dunbar and Caithness General hospitals."

Lorna has set up JustGiving donation pages for Macmillan Cancer Support and for CHAT's travel packs for mums.

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