AN EXPERIENCED long-distance runner has gone from coast to coast to complete the John Muir Way in the fastest known time.

James Stewart pulled on his running shoes on Friday, July 3, in Helensburgh and ran through the day and night to reach the finishing line on Dunbar High Street the next morning!

The 134-mile route was opened in 2014 by then First Minister Alex Salmond.

On July 3, the five-mile limit for leisure travel was lifted and James, from Croy in North Lanarkshire, set off for the start line.

Leaving at 8am, he powered through torrential rain, which meant changes of footwear, to reach Dunbar at 5.53am on Saturday.

James was pleased to complete the route in 21 hours and 53 minutes and told the Courier he had been confident in completing it under 24 hours.

He said: “At the end of the day, there are a couple of reasons why I was confident I could set the fastest known time.

“I know the guy who did it previously and I ran with him for a bit. He knew I was going to go for it and I was always confident I could do it under 24 hours because my 24 hours’ personal best is 160 miles on a running track.

“There is still a lot that can go wrong and you have got to keep moving. You never know when you are going to feel ill or turn an ankle and need to walk 10 miles, which can slow you down for an hour or two.”

The 44-year-old was aware of the route, which passes through Croy, before taking on the challenge.

However, he did not do any “recce” on any of the 10 sections of the 215-kilometre route that he was unfamiliar with.

Instead, armed with a head torch, he ran through the night to reach Dunbar.

And, although the weather was wet in the west, he was rewarded for his efforts as he came into East Lothian.

James, who works for Sky, said: “We had a stunning sunset going through Edinburgh.

“As I came off Corstorphine Hill, I was dropping down into Brunstane and Musselburgh and at that point I was getting a really stunning sunset and knew I was going to get a great sunrise.

“It was maybe dark for five hours and the sunrise as I came through the coast was incredible. The best bit of it was the sunrise over North Berwick Law.”

James was greeted by a welcoming party on Dunbar High Street shortly before 6am.

Duncan Smeed, chair of John Muir Birthplace Charitable Trust, was on hand to present an IOU for a certificate to show he had completed the route.

He said: “I wanted to make sure somebody from the Birthplace was there to welcome him, even though we cannot open the Birthplace just yet.”