Here you can find a log of how the team members are getting on:
7th June 2014 – Challenge Day
Arriving at the registration on the Friday evening, we were given a start time of 06:34 for Saturday morning. However, equipment had to be unloaded and prepared so we had to be at the event around 05:45. Good job none of us need beauty sleep!
Bikes were unloaded, fettled and then stored at the transition station as they would not be needed until later. Breakfast was a high priority and then trying to remain calm as the minutes ticked by to the start. The atmosphere was incredible with the majority of teams wishing each other luck even though they were essentially competitors.
At 06:34 precisely Jimmy, Mark, Dicky & Owen set off for the foot of Ben Nevis. The 2 mile walk to get there was straight forward and little indication of what was to come. Access to the Ben Nevis trail was opposite the Youth Hostel and within minutes we were on very different terrain. The lower trail was taking it’s toll of us and after the first mile, we could not believe how hard we were having to work. Indeed, monitoring equipment some of us had showed our maximum heart rate for the hike occurred within this short distance. Thankfully all our training kicked in and we got into a steady rhythm and continued to climb.
Ben Nevis is a challenge mentally as well as physically as you have to climb a considerable distance on the adjacent mountain before you even set foot on Ben Nevis itself! Even “Halfway Loch” isn’t half way up the trail just to mess with your mind. Half way is actually at the waterfall where snowmelt pours down the mountain. Very cooling and refreshing this was too! Mark probably suffered the most on the climb but showed his immense mental strength by never giving up and keeping the team going with the usual banter. He really was our King of the Mountain for his performance!!
It should also be noted that Andy Whigham, who had accompanied us on some of our training hikes was also with us for the majority of the way, taking plenty of photos and going through the same pain that we were. He also showed real grit by reaching the summit of Ben Nevis!
The terrain changed quickly after this point from a firm rock path surrounded by greenery to boulders and loose shale underfoot surrounded with scenery that looked more like a quarry! The team continued it’s steady pace until the snow line was reached. Ben Nevis is only 100 metres below the permanent slow line and even in June, there is significant snow to be crossed before the summit plateau can be reached.
Once clear of the snow, the path to the summit is relatively easy over loose shale, however, the 18 degree temperature at the bottom was now around 6 degrees plus a strong wind adding to the chill factor so we could understand why there was still so much snow around. After a short pause for some photographs, much needed food and drink, we began our descent.
The path down was a reverse of the path up but even with gravity on our side, it was no less a challenge. The impact on joints, particularly the knees is fearsome. Even so, the descent was obviously quicker and we arrived back at the start of the trail tired and relieved. The 2 mile walk back to the Nevis Centre gave our aching knees a chance to recover before the first cycle leg.
After checking in, we changed into our cycle gear, replenished our food and water supplies and set off for Loch Lochy. After fighting with the mountain, Mark suddenly transformed into a Bradley Wiggins clone and shot off at such a pace that we were taken by surprise! The A82 was busy but despite having to take care in the traffic, we were already making up time and overtaking teams in front of us. Owen quickly found out that even a good mountain bike does not have the same speed as a road racer on tarmac roads and was having to work at maximum effort continually just to keep up.
Some of the hills were testing with one section being a 1-in-4 climb! Thankfully that was short but the long climb up to the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge was testing but even on that we were overtaking other teams. The hundreds of kilometres we’d put in during training were paying dividends now!
The run down to Loch Lochy was mostly downhill which was a huge relief to Owen as he could now keep pace with the race bikes and as the last 200 metres was on gravel, he finished the leg with a grin on his face! What also gave us some pleasure was seeing Andy, having descended Ben Nevis and collecting his car, waiting to cheer us on!
A short rest break was allowed here and food and refreshments were available to all the competitors. We refuelled and then set out in the Kayaks. This was the only discipline we hadn’t practised but to our surprise (and relief) found we were co-ordinating well and soon gaining on another team in front of us! Jimmy’s shouts of ” let’s get them” motivated us while Dicky’s howls of “prepare for boarding” certainly psyched out the other team as we did eventually catch them just before the finish!
There was no rest following this and so we were soon back on the bikes climbing out of Gairlochy and heading back towards Fort William. However, shortly after this first climb, we were surprised by seeing the “Youthless Wrecks Emergency Support Vehicle” parked at the side of the road, proudly displaying it’s sign with the emergency supplies on display….4 bottles of beer! Andy had done us proud!
As grateful as we were, we declined the beer at this point and headed for the finish. This road was more undulating and so Owen was able to keep pace better with the road racers. Back in Fort William we again had to negotiate heavy traffic before the final run to the line.
After setting off at 06:34, team Youthless Wrecks had hiked 14 miles, cycled 30 miles and paddled 2 miles burning in excess of 8500 calories in the process to cross the finish line at 17:17!
Last Minute Preparations
Boosted by the news that the £2000 target we set has been achieved, the team are ready for the challenge they will face in less than 48 hrs from now. Light exercise this week with most thoughts of recharging the batteries ready for Saturday. The forecast isn’t great but could be a lot worse so should not be a problem.
Mark has nick-named the team members with Jimmy being Forrest Gump (My name is Jimmy and I like to run!), Dicky being Mr Bean (should be bean pole as he is the leanest of us all!!), Owen being Bionic Miyagi (Mark can explain that one ??) with Mark being The Fall Guy (due to his love of falling over on practise hikes). We’re all looking forward to Saturday and I’m sure there will never be a dull moment!!
Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers
Last outing before the main event saw the team take on the double Munro peaks (Munro – a peak higher than 3000 feet – Beinn Ghlas, 3,615 ft & Ben Lawers, 3,984 ft )at the side of Loch Tay. Jimmy, Mark & Owen were joined once again by Andy Whigham with his camera.
The weather was once again overcast but dry and quite warm at lower levels. There was no warm up this time as the climb started almost immediately from the car park. The path split at the base of Beinn Ghlas and being a hardy bunch, we elected the more direct but harder route up Beinn Ghlas. The summit was shrouded in mist as seems to be the norm for our training runs so we didn’t linger long before descending to the ridge that leads to Ben Lawers.
As with Schiehallion, there was some snow evident but not enough to cause any concerns. The ridge was a welcome rest before another steep ascent to the summit of Ben Lawers. Pictures were taken at the trig point before we set out on the return journey. This wasn’t a simple hike back to the car park as we again had to traverse the ridge and ascend Beinn Ghlas again so effectively doing 3 Munros in one session.
The 12km route taken took just over 4 hours. I guess we are now as ready as we can be for Ben Nevis next weekend!
First outing as a complete team, Jimmy, Dicky, Mark and Owen (ably supported by Andy Whigham), climbed the 3,553 feet of Schiehallion. For Andy and Mark, this was their first Munro bagged! Well done!!!
The weather wasn’t ideal with strong winds and low cloud spoiling the view from the summit and even some snow at higher levels although not enough to cause any real problems. The main thing was we all enjoyed it and had a good laugh along the way. Confidence and excitement is growing now for the main event less than 3 weeks away!
The team now have an official name for the event, the “Youthless Wrecks”!
Jimmy, Mark and Owen hiked up Ben Venue. Although conditions were not ideal, thankfully it wasn’t raining and the mists did lift a little by the time we reached the summit. A good training session and always a laugh. Once the mist did lift, we got a glimpse of how stunning the view is from the top.
SCAA HQ, PERTH
The team take a trip to SCAA headquarters at Scone, near Perth to meet some of the charity staff and also two of the paramedics who fly in the aircraft. They not only perform an extremely valuable service they are also a very friendly group of people.
The helicopter was built in 1986 and is known for it’s reliability and toughness. It is capable of taking off in a 40 knot (46 mph) wind and can fly in wind of up to 60 knots (70 mph). It is equipped as well as any ground based ambulance but can reach casualties much faster in large areas of rural Scotland. It has capacity for one patient at a time which two paramedics can treat whilst the pilot flys the aircraft. Since going into service it has been called out, on average, once per day. The cost of running this helicopter isn’t cheap with fuel being consumed at around £500/hr with the service costing roughly £1.5 million per year!
Please support us in our quest to raise £2000 to keep this essential service airborne. It is an asset we hope we will never need but it’s comforting to know it’s there if we ever do.
Huge thanks to the staff for the guided tour of the facilities and aircraft today!
Mark makes his first hill climb in preparation for the big challenge. Under the expert guidance from Jimmy Urquhart he chose a nice easy first trip with Ben Aan being the objective. All kited up and ready to go we start just after 9am with climb starting immediately. 10 mins in I was breathing out of my derriere and thinking of excuses of how I could get out of this challenge! Thankfully once my body got used to the pain it became enjoyable! After reaching the summit my expert guide decided to go off piste and we climbed a few other hills close by, even though there was not a dedicated route! Next week Ben Venue…..”
The wet and windy winter weather has not stopped training. Dicky has been putting in the miles on his bike as well as now being a regular at the local gym. “On my last 6 mile run, the wind was blowing gale force so it was great on my outbound trip but coming back was another thing! I ran out of gears on my way back and was actually blown into a gorse bush by the force of the wind! However, I made it back in reasonable condition and now look forward to the next torture training trip in the gym tomorrow”. Now that is commitment!!
Owen has also been stepping up his gym training and another gruelling fitness test passed. Still a way to go but please at progress so far. I can’t match Dicky’s dedication for all weather training but I did miss the first half of the Wales v France game as I was at the gym (on a Friday evening too)! Proudly wearing my Wales top though!!
The dog walks have been getting longer with 19km being the furthest to date. I’m thinking of hiring my German Shepherd out as a personal trainer when she’s finished with me!
Jimmy has been doing some serious climate training recently at Ben Venue. Seriously Jimmy, I hope it’s not like that in June on Ben Nevis!!
Mark has made it his New Years resolution to get fit and has joined a gym. He has has his first session with the instructor and has described the TRX equipment as torture! It does get better I’m told!
Owen too has enlisted the services of a trainer at the local Puregym. “Losing weight is one thing but getting fit….I have no idea so best get some help”! Three weeks in and it’s helping already in that I can now walk downstairs unaided the day after a gym session! Big thanks to Kevin McInally at Puregym.
Dicky has been helping the Nurses at Victoria Hospital by making them bacon rolls and playing Santa for the patients. I think he’s reserving a bed for after the challenge!!
2013 Santa Dash
Owen and his daughter, Kathleen with his Sister-in-law, Lesley also completed the Glasgow Santa Dash. “This is the first time I have ever taken part in a 5k run, albeit a fun run. The atmosphere was superb and I thoroughly enjoyed it”!
Glasgow Santa Dash 2013 – Jimmy completed the dash with his daughter, Laura, and a few friends. “It was amazing to see so many Santas all running through Glasgow and great fun too. Will be signing up for this again next year”!
Jimmy, Owen and some family members are taking part in the 2013 Glasgow Santa Dash. Good training and a bit of fun too.
Dicky has had his first gym session and is still able to walk. Things are looking up!
First training session for Jimmy and Owen walking up and around Kinnoull Hill in Perth. Jimmy leading a gentle 2 hours walking session on mixed surface in typical wet, damp Scottish weather to give Owen an idea of things to come.
Owen’s training to date has been more aimed at weight loss and general fitness. The emphasis has now changed to aiming for the endurance required to complete this event. Over the winter, his plan is to continue longer treks on routes very local to him (ably aided by his young German Shepherd Dog), cycle when the weather allows and continue the regular visits to the gym.
Jimmy has a head start on the rest of us as he has been training and taking part in some competitions already!