The distance covered is more than two marathons, some 54 miles, to be completed in 24 hours? And the journey is through some of Scotland’s most remote, rugged and stunningly beautiful countryside; taking in Ben Nevis – the UK’s highest mountain, the splendour of Glen Coe, the wilds of Rannoch Moor and the scenic Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.
For the past 3 years I have worked as a massage therapist at Tyndrum, offering massage…and words of encouragemnt…to those taking part. It was the case that walkers had a further 12 miles to go to complete the challenge when they left Tyndrum, having started the walk in Fort William. However this year Tyndrum, or to be exact Strathfillan, was the finishing point, the start having switched to Gairlochy.
A bit more detail then;
The challenge starts in Gairlochy and the walk takes participants south along the Great Glen Way, passing close to Ben Nevis en route to the first Checkpoint in the town of Fort William.
The walk then heads along Glen Nevis and joins the famous West Highland Way to Kinlochleven, the second checkpoint.
And then for the tricky bit! A steady climb up to the summit of the Devil’s Staircase but the reward is the stunning views on the descent into Glencoe Glencoe and Checkpoint 3.
Walkers then face the wilds of Rannoch Moor as they continue on the West Highland Way to Checkpoint 4 at Inveroran.
Almost there now! Once walkers have mustered that last bit of enthusiasm and determination to complete the Challenge, the walk continues along the West Highland Way, via Bridge of Orchy and Tyndrum to reach the Finish Line at Strathfillan Wigwams
This year over a thousand brave souls started at Gairlochy to walk the 54 miles along the Great Glen Way and onto the West Highland Way.… I set up just before 9 and stopped only for a fried egg roll, massaging straight through to 5am! All of those legs. I’ll be massaging calfs in my dreams for weeks to come! The first walker, runner more accurately I suppose, completed the course in just over nine hours; really, just nine hours to complete 54 miles, and he was fresh as a daisy. Most finishers, however, walked like John Wayne by the end!
So why do people put themselves through this?
The Caledonian Challenge is owned by the Scottish Community Foundation, a registered Scottish charity. All funds raised from the event are managed and distributed by the Foundation to strengthen communities close to the course and throughout Scotland. Currently, around 91% of donations to the voluntary sector in Scotland go to just 5% of registered charities. The Scottish Community Foundation aim to change this by working in partnership with philanthropic individuals, companies and charitable trusts. To date they have distributed over £18 million in grants to support voluntary groups and charities with the Caledonian Challenge contributing £8 million to support the Foundation’s important work.