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Donnie Campbell rides Fastest Known Time on An Turas Mor

Written by Fiona

July 19 2021

Endurance athlete Donnie Campbell has set a Fastest Known Time (FKT) for a 570km off-rand cycle route from Glasgow to Cape Wrath. The 36-year-old Scot rode An Turas Mor in just 33 hours and 31 minutes.

The previous FKT for An Turas Mor, which means  “The Long Journey” in Gaelic, was just over three days.

Usually, cyclists spend eight days riding the route with a total ascent of 7600m.

A spokesperson from the group that created An Turas Mor said: “‘It’s an exceptional effort.”

Donnie Campbell at the start of the An Turas Mor ride.

Donnie’s An Turas Mor fastest ride

With an average speed of 16kph, Donnie, of Inverness, cycled north from Scotland’s largest city to the most north-westerly corner of mainland Britain. The route follows existing paths, trails and tracks.

He said: “It was actually a very enjoyable route but I suffered a lot of pain from the vibration created by the rugged trail. 

“I had a very sore left hand and arm during the ride and my bum really suffered. The terrain was pretty unforgiving at times.

“However, I’m pleased I’ve finally done it because it has been my goal for summer 2021 and I am really happy with the time.”

Another record set by Donnie

Donnie is no stranger to extreme feats. Last year, he set a new record of 31 days for a non-stop round of the 282 highest mountains in Scotland known as the Munros.

Then, last month, he set a blistering time for cycling from Glasgow to Inverness on what is known as the Badger’s Divide. He rode the 200-mile trail in 19 hours and 14 minutes, smashing the previous FKT of 23:36. 

Donnie, a former marine from the Isle of Skye, set off for his latest extreme challenge on Saturday at 5.23am.

He rode non-stop on the route that passes through wild mountainous landscapes and crosses numerous mountain passes.

He took three short breaks to eat pizza and cake and drink tea, as well as a 40-minute nap. He was supported by his wife Rachel.

Donnie reveals the weather was “the usual Scottish mix”. He said: “The conditions were pretty good for Scotland and started off dry and warm.

“It got really hot just as I had to cycle a long climb from Glen Lyon over to Kinloch Rannoch. Then it started to drizzle and rain on the Sunday morning.

“The wind was quite tough at times, too. It was a westerly mainly and that meant I had a side wind most of the way and sometimes a head wind.”

The toughest section came towards the finish point at Cape Wrath Lighthouse. Donnie, who was riding a Cervelo gravel bike, said: “Near the northerly mountain of Ben Hope there was a climb up to a height of about 450 metres.

“The Landrover track was so rutted that I was forced to get off my bike to push. I was really fatigued by this point after riding so far.

“Then I had to descend on a steep and rugged track and go along a boggy loch shore. I was walking more than cycling. 

“The ride lost its sense of fun then and I just wanted to get to the end. It was a relief when I did.”

Donnie reaches Cape Wrath on his record An Turas Mor ride.

Praise for Donnie’s An Turas Mor record ride

Yesterday, Obscura Mondo Cycle Club, the group behind An Turas Mor, which means “the longest ride” in Gaelic, congratulated Donnie. They also hope his record time will encourage other riders to join a sportive on the route next month.

Rich Dee, the club’s secretary, said: “It’s an exceptional effort on An Turas Mor that we hope might spur on riders to participate in the official timed event, Sportiva21, in September. Maybe Donnie will join us for the sportive next year.”

What is An Turas Mor?

An Turas Mor is the creation of David Wilson with the support of other mountain bikers from Obscura Mondo Cycle Club.

It follows existing trails, cycleways, drove trails, historic military trails, hydro roads and forest tracks connected together to give a continuously  ride-able and non technical cycle journey suitable for mountain and gravel bikes.

It starts in the heart of Glasgow and heads north to reach the Scottish Highlands where it finishes at Cape Wrath Lighthouse, the most north-westerly point in mainland Britain.

The 354-mile trail passes through wild mountainous landscapes and crosses many mountain passes.

The vision for An Turas Mor is to encourage cyclists to responsibly explore the hidden beauty of Scotland away from motor vehicles. See An Turas Mor and www.anturasmor.co.uk/sportiva.

The previous fastest time is believed to be held by Martin Landsbury in just over three days.

Who is Donnie Campbell?

Donnie was the winner of the British Trail Championships in 2016 when he ran a record-breaking time for the 53-mile Highland Fling in 6:51:06.

He has also crossed the Namib desert on foot and run from Glasgow to Skye.

In 2015, he was sixth in the Mont Blanc 80k Skyrunner World Series Race and the winner of the Iznik Ultra Race. In 2018, he took third place in the Mont Blanc 80k.

He is founder of Get Active Running.

Donnie is sponsored by Salomon Running, Active Root, Suunto and Teko Socks.

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