BOLTON extreme athlete Scott Crighton is no stranger to tests of endurance.

But this was another level. As the temperature plunged to minus-39 degrees Celsius, the tough competitor braced himself.

The Siberian Ice Half Marathon is one of the toughest races in the world. And here he was, ready to tackle it.

In his kilt.

For, although Crighton was born in Berlin where his army dad was stationed, his roots are definitely in Scotland and the granite city of Aberdeen.

He seems to be made of granite himself at times as he tackles one amazing endurance event after another.

The locals at the annual running festival in the city of Omsk in Russia’s remote frozen wastes near the border with Kazakhstan, nearly 1,400 miles east of Moscow, had certainly never see anything like him. Crighton became an instant celebrity.

Now he is planning to go one better for his chosen charity Cash4Kids – he is in training for his toughest test yet, a full marathon across Russia’s most remote frozen lake.

Some say he must be crazy. But Crighton, who recently completed his third Ironman UK event in Bolton, is used to that ever since his first trip to compete over the ice in deepest Russia.

The 40-year-old policeman with Merseyside Police, who belongs to Tri-Rivington triathlon club based at Bolton’s David Lloyd Centre, said: “People just thought I was crazy. It was so cold and running in a kilt can be pretty difficult.

“You practically skate around there too, there’s ice and snow everywhere.

“Nothing can prepare you for the cold. I got a night flight and arrived in Omsk at 5.40 in the morning and you couldn’t see the runway. There was just ice and snow everywhere.

“Then the cold hit me. I had grown a beard and it was frozen after a few minutes. I had to give myself two or three days just to get used to it. It takes that long just to get used to walking on the ice.’

It was January 2014 and it was the start of his passion for a race only a handful of international extreme runners dare attempt. Crighton returns every year to take part and in 2018 the race organisers made the ‘Scot in a Kilt’ the ambassador for all the foreign runners.

He said, ‘It’s a great honour. Everyone knows me now. When I turn up – people think it’s great that this guy in a kilt comes back every year, they want pictures with me and they think it’s fantastic someone from outside Russia comes along.”

Not that the challenge ends when runners cross the finish line.

They are then invited to take part in an ice swim through frozen waters to complete the full experience.

Obviously Crighton feels he could not turn down such a challenge.

“They pick you up and take you to the outskirts of the city where you have three dips in the icy water and the opportunity to swim 25 metres in the frozen River Irtysh,” he said. “They have to use massive steel poles to smash the ice before you can go in.

“The cold is so intense. When you come out it takes the skin off your hands. The coldest was the second year I did it. It was minus-42 degrees and before I could get to the sauna after getting out, the water on my body had frozen.”

Crighton came across the race when he was scouring the internet in search of a new challenge.

He has completed close to 100 marathons including his first ultra in 2010 – the Lakeland 55.

Before that he had decided he would run from Land’s End to John O’Groats – on his own.

The year before he had cycled it, then came the idea to run it. He pounded the roads from the South West to northernmost Scotland, covering between 30 and 35 miles a day for 29 days raising money for Glasgow Rangers’ charitable causes.

Charity is always a strong motivator for Crighton. Each year he pledges to run for a different charity and has over the years raised a staggering £49,000 – with more to come.

His next target is the Lake Baikal Ice Marathon, a full distance marathon across the biggest frozen freshwater lake in the world.

Weather conditions are similar to Omsk but athletes there must contend with winds across the lake that can whip up to 55mph.

Crighton is now looking forward to taking part in the March 2020 event. After meeting rigorous entry conditions including documentation proof of several years of previous races, Crighton received confirmation he had been successful this summer.

“The terrain varies from sheer, glacial ice to maybe six-to-10 metres deep snow and back to sheer ice,” he said. “You have to provide evidence of events you’ve done for at least the past three years plus web links to results to prove them all before they’ll let you take part.

“One guy at this year’s event got frostbite and had to withdraw after 40 minutes. It’s that tough.

“With some of these events it helps to do it for charity because it motivates you so much. As much as the event is hard, there are people going through far worse than me. I should be grateful I’ve got that opportunity to do these races.”

So how do you train in Lancashire for such gruelling events in the snow and ice at temperatures unheard of in the UK?

Crighton admits: “Nothing can prepare you but the hills around Lancashire help and trail running prepares you for the different changes in terrain. Beyond that, there’s not really a way of replicating the ice conditions.”

He plans to return to Omsk every year and to continue with his unusual end to every race – a burst at the finish line on the bagpipes he always takes along with him.

A Scotsman running an ice marathon in a kilt and dancing with bagpipes at the end. No wonder Scott Crighton gets noticed wherever he runs.

n To donate to Scott’s charity page, visit