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