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Trio get set for charity trig challenge

Written by Fiona

April 02 2019

Three women are taking on an extraordinary running challenge to raise awareness and funds for vital mountain search and rescue services.Jenny Allen, Jamie Aarons and Alex Berry plan to run to all 19 “trig” points in the 1000 square mile area covered by Lomond Mountain Rescue Team (MRT). 

They will need to cover 60 miles (100km) on foot over rough and boggy land, as well as a total ascent of 16,404ft (5000m).

The trio hope to finish their Trig Point Challenge in an impressive 24 hours.

Money raised through sponsorship and donations will go to Lomond MRT, which is one of the busiest volunteer rescue teams in Scotland. 

You can donate to the charity challenge.

The challenge will be very tough yet the women hope to finish inside 24 hours. Credit- Graham Kelly

Jenny’s trig challenge idea

It was Jenny, a long-standing member of Lomond MRT, who came up with the idea for trig run. She said: “I was trying to think of creative ways to raise awareness of the work of mountain rescue teams and all the volunteers.

“I started looking at the map of the MRT boundary and I saw there were trig points spread across the area. They are marked by small triangles on OS maps. 

“I think trig points are amazing things, in the way that they formed the basis of our modern maps, and I started to look at how many trigs I had visited.The idea came to me then, to try to visit all 19 of the trigs in one outing.”

Jenny mentioned the idea to friends Jamie and Alex and together they conceived the Trig Point Challenge, which they will attempt on April 6 and 7.

One of the 19 trigs in the Lomond MRT area. Credit: Graham Kelly

What are the trigs?

The trig points – or triangulation stations – form part of a huge mapping project, the Retriangulation of Great Britain, undertaken by Ordnance Survey (OS) in the early 20th century.

More than 6500 concrete pillars – each around 4ft tall – were installed across the UK countryside from 1936 onwards.

The pillars allowed surveyors to attach theodolite equipment for charting the lay of the land. They measured direct lines and angles to and from these fixed points – called triangulation – to create the original OS maps.  

Modern technologies, such as GPS, mean the traditional trig pillar is generally not necessary any more but many thousands of trig pillars still remain dotted across rural areas and on hills and mountains. 

Jenny, 39, of Aberfoyle, said: “Triangulation is such a simple but clever idea of lines and triangles to map the land. 

“And maps and grid references are integral to what we do as walkers and runners, as well as when working as part of a mountain rescue team.

“It seemed like a great idea to run to a set of trig points as an awareness campaign.

“Also, many trigs are in really cool places so it’s interesting to visit them.”

Alex in the foreground. Credit: Graham Kelly

The Trig Point Challenge

The trio’s first trig point will be on the 2244ft (684m) summit of Maol Mor in the Trossachs, above Loch Katrine.

Maol Mor is also the most northerly trig point in the Lomond MRT boundary area.

They will finish the challenge at the trig on the top of Ben Lomond at 3193ft (974m), close to Loch Lomond.

Ben Lomond is the most westerly trig of the challenge and will also include the greatest ascent of 2687ft (819m) from base to summit.  

The most southerly is located at a height of 561ft (171m) on Hilton Golf Course, in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, while the most easterly is Scout Head in Stirlingshire at 705ft (215m).

They will be supported along the way by friends, family and fellow team members who will be drivers, feeders, navigators, and cheerleaders.

The challenge will require motorised transportation of some three hours on public roads. 

Jamie, 39, whose partner Andy Taylor is a member of Lomond MRT, said: “If all goes well, we may sneak in a finish under 24 hours.”

But she added: “There are many unknowns that could hamper our progress however, including Scotland’s fickle weather.

“Many of the trigs also require an arduous trek through rough terrain, over moorland, through thick vegetation, forestry and wet bog and peat.

“We will need to be very smart with our navigation and pace ourselves carefully.

“The 60 miles is a very long way to go on foot over rough countryside in one outing.” 

The women, who are all keen runners, have been training hard and making shorter trips to recce the locations of the trigs. 

Alex, 34, of Whiteinch is also a member of Lomond MRT and trains with the Westerlands Hill Running Club. 

She said: “We have been spending a lot of time running to different trig points – and many I have not run to before.

“It has also been a great way to explore the quieter areas of our MRT patch and to gain valuable local knowledge that might come in useful in a future rescue.

“But I am apprehensive about the challenge because it will be a step into the unknown for me. 

“I have never completed a 24-hour event but with two determined and experienced ladies beside me I am sure it can be done.”

Jenny added: “It will be a big challenge – and we’ll just have to see how it goes.”

Another trig! Credit: Graham Kelly

As well as monetary donations towards the fund-raiser, the trio is looking for further offers of support during the challenge. 

Jamie said: “Maybe there are like-minded folk who would like to join us for part of the run to keep us on track and motivated.

“Or perhaps there are people or businesses out there who can provide kit to keep us dry and warm, as well as sure-footed over tricky terrain.

“Food and drink will also be gratefully received to help us with energy throughout the challenge.” 

“It’s going to be tough, but more than worth it if we can raise some funds to support the exceptional work done by mountain rescue teams. And I’ve no doubt we’ll have a little fun along the way.”

Please do donate to the Trig Point Challenge fundraiser.

Lomond MRT

Scotland’s mountain rescue teams offer a front-line, voluntary search and rescue service that is available any hour, any day and in any weather. 

The services are provided by volunteers 365 days a year. 

Lomond MRT, founded in 1967, is one of the busier teams in Scotland. 

The team covers more than 1000 square miles in one of the most popular mountain areas of Scotland.

The area stretches from the most northerly point of Loch Lomond, via the loch and its islands and east through Loch Katrine and almost to Stirling. 

A number of hills ranges are also covered, such as the Fintry Hills, the Campsies and the Kilpatricks. 

It also includes a large area of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. 

The park sees two million visitors a year, many of whom head into the hills and mountains on foot.

As a charity, Lomond MRT depends entirely on fundraising to maintain its service. 

Ian Dawson, a spokesperson for Lomond MRT, said: “It’s clear you don’t have to travel to the ends of the Earth to set a genuine challenge.

“Alex, Jenny and Jamie’s Trig Point Challenge is unique and an ambitious ultra-marathon, by a strong team, to visit the four corners of the team’s call-out area.

“It’s amazing the lengths our supporters go to. Good luck from all at the Lomond MRT.”

  • Many thanks to Graham Kelly for letting me use his photos without payment.
  • A version of this article appeared in the Sunday Post in March 2019.

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