I recently blogged about David Blackmore’s self-created charity challenge to raise vital funds for Maggie’s Centres . Here he reflects on his three-day and 168-mile run, bike and kayak across Scotland.
David writes: Having designed my own extreme challenge for Maggie’s, gathered all the equipment, completed five months of training, and with a fantastic support team assembled, we gathered at Maggie’s Centre in Inverness for the 7am start on that first morning of the three days.
Xtreme3: Day one
After a short warm-up cycle from Maggie’s Centre to the edge of Inverness, I was ready for the 22-mile run along the Great Glen Way to Drumnadrochit. From there it was a 11-mile cycle to Invermoriston before kayaking six miles on Loch Ness to Fort Augustus.
Changing winds and a few waves made this a bit of a challenge for a paddling novice but I got there in the end. Another quick change for the final 41-mile mountain bike section to Fort William, and Day One was complete.
Total: 74 miles
Xtreme3: Day two
This was the day that worried me the most. A 55-mile run from Fort William to Inverarnan along the West Highland Way in the worst weather possible. Strong headwinds and driving rain most of the day made it a bigger challenge than expected, especially on the very exposed parts of the route.
Broken into seven sections, I had very welcome companions for each, whose company I found invaluable. I felt great until Tyndrum, about 35 miles in, when I began to flag a bit.
However, with fresh support runners to keep my spirits up, I reached the Drovers Inn, and the end of Day Two.
A physiotherapy treatment to sort out my legs and help with niggling shoulder pain, plus some sports tape, helped me to get to sleep.
Total: 55 miles
Xtreme3: Day three
I was concerned about the weather – specifically the wind – considering I was starting with an 12-mile kayak from Ardlui to Rowardenan on Loch Lomond. This part was broken into three sections.
The first and last sections were very enjoyable, but the middle section had a strong headwind, which turned it into a real grind. But I got through it, and ditched the kayak at Rowardennan.
The final stretch was a cycle of 27 miles to Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow, and to the most incredible welcome.
Total: 39 miles.
The three-day challenge raised a fantastic £12,600 for Maggie’s Centres to support those affected by cancer, their family and friends.
Highs and lows
My low point was the wind on the exposed runs and on the water. I also had a panic when I was alone, in the middle of Loch Lomond, and I saw what I thought was the Loch Lomond Seaplane coming into land. I started worrying whether or not the pilot would see me. Fortunately, it turned out to be a normal small plane, but my mind was clearly beginning to play tricks on me.
My highest high point was an overwhelming reception at the finish from family, friends and colleagues. It was very emotional.
To anyone who is thinking about something similar I would offer the following advice:
Check routes: Recce the route as much as you can so you know how best to prepare.
Right kit: Based on the route information, get the best kit possible and assume all weather possibilities.
Key support: Training, a fuel strategy and a great support crew are the final crucial ingredients required to complete an event such as this.
Secret weapons: Incredibly, I suffered no major injuries, but that could be down to the sports treatments I had after each day, which were invaluable. And, of course, there was my secret anti-chafing weapon. A product designed for, believe it or not, cows udders, called Bag Balm. It smells terrible, but it does the job.
This was without doubt the most challenging but rewarding thing I’ve done to date. 168 miles does sound extreme, but travelling the hills, trails and lochs of the Scottish Highlands wasn’t a chore. And for a Scot like me, it’s all on my doorstep.