He tore knee lig­a­ment with 92 miles of Alpine ul­tra­ma­rathon left...

Bangor Mail - - FRONT PAGE - En­gaged: run­ners Paul Wathan and Gemma Mor­gan

DE­SPITE tear­ing a knee lig­a­ment 118 miles into one of the tough­est run­ning races on earth, an An­gle­sey man was de­ter­mined to fin­ish be­cause he had an en­gage­ment ring wrapped up in his back­pack.

Paul Wathan was tak­ing part in the Tor des Geants en­durance trial in Italy.

The 28-year-old, orig­i­nally from An­gle­sey but now liv­ing in Abergele, com­pleted the 210-mile one-stage race in 107 hours – with just two 20-minute naps and a 45-minute sleep or­dered by doc­tors who were con­cerned about his state of mind.

Sup­port­ing him through­out the route was Gemma Mor­gan, also 28, who has run with Paul in 34 coun­tries.

The cou­ple, who have been to­gether for more than ten years, met as teenagers dur­ing a cross coun­try race in North Wales.

To­gether they have run 30 marathons, in­clud­ing New York, Lon­don and Barcelona, and walked to Ever­est base camp.

“Tor des Geants was in­cred­i­bly tough,” said Paul, who or­gan­ises run­ning races all over Wales for Run Wales.

“It was over rough ter­rain in the Ital­ian Alps, and we had to climb the equiv­a­lent of 33 Snow­dons.

“When I tore my knee lig­a­ment I was in ab­so­lute agony but I was de­ter­mined to carry on, as I had that ring in my bag.

“But the pain took over and race doc- tors were con­cerned about me as at one stage – I couldn’t re­mem­ber what day it was, or even my name as the pain had taken over.”

He con­tin­ued: “They forced me to stop for a cou­ple of hours so they could take my bloods and so on, but then al­lowed me to con­tinue.

“Gemma was sup­port­ive through­out, she knows me and knew I had to fin­ish no mat­ter what.”

De­spite be­ing in agony, Paul fin­ished in 58th place out of more than 500 run­ners – 406 run­ners didn’t man­age to com­plete the course, which is so tough it has a 150-hour time limit for the 210 miles.

Paul runs for Eryri Har­ri­ers, and has rep­re­sented An­gle­sey, North Wales as well as Wales in trail run­ning as a ju­nior as well as a se­nior.

Gemma was wait­ing for him at the fin­ish lane.

She said: “We gave each other a big hug at the end, I told him that I love him and he told me that he loved me.

“Then he went down on one knee and pro­posed.

“It was a nice shock at the end of the race.

“I had no idea he was go­ing to pro­pose.

“Ev­ery­body started clap­ping and cheer­ing when they saw the ring.”

Gemma added: “I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with Paul, and am hop­ing for lots more of ad­ven­tures to­gether.”

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