A Scottish running club is believed to be the first to pull off an impressive 282 Munros in a Day challenge.
Some 100 members of Carnethy Hill Runners reached the summit of all the Munros – Scottish mountains with a summit of more than 3000ft – on Saturday August 14 in just 16 hours and 48 minutes.
The red and yellow colours of the Edinburgh-based club swept the Munros, from the first one, Toll Creagach, bagged at 7am to the final Munro recorded at 11.48pm.
The two main organisers included Nicki Innes and Ken Fordyce. Spokesperson for the club, the president Mark Hartree said: “It was a pretty epic challenge – and there was a moment of jeopardy late on but we are very pleased to have done it.
“We think we are the first club to achieve this – and maybe the first group of people to record all the Munro summits within 24 hours.”
Carnethy runner Rachel Normand, who bagged five Munros at Bridge of Orchy with her husband Will, said: “It was amazing to play a part in such a huge challenge.
“Our first few summits were in horrible weather but we persevered knowing our club mates were doing the same thing.
“Luckily, the weather improved so we had some fine views across Rannoch Moor. It was exciting to follow the challenge later in the evening and hear everyone’s stories.”
Idea for @MunrosInADay challenge
The idea came about when the Iain Whiteside from the club read about a group of runners in Keswick who reached all the Wainwright fells in the Lake District in a day.
Mark said: “Iain suggested the idea and we thought that if a club could do all the 214 Wainwrights then why not try for all the Munros in a day. It seemed like a great club focus as we all came out of the Covid restrictions.
“It took us only 53 days to organise the Munros in a Day, as well as a huge amount of commitment and dedication from our club members.”
Completing the 282 Munros in a day
While Edinburgh-based Carnethy Hill Runners has many experienced and fit members among the ranks, the challenge was a tough logistical feat.
The geographical spread of the Munros extends from the Isle of Skye in the west, to Mount Keen in Aberdeenshire in the east and from the most southerly, Ben Lomond in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, to the most northerly, Ben Hope in Sutherland.
In addition, Scotland’s fickle weather could easily have hampered progress and put an end to the challenge. As it turned out, the conditions in the north-west were tough with very little visibility.
Everyone who signed up needed to get to the summit, or summits, that they had pledged to do, without injury or illness.
Mark, who reached the club’s second Munro of the day, An Coilleachan at 8.39am, said: “To start with we needed the commitment of members to give their time on one day to reach all the Munros.
“Then we set up a spreadsheet and graded the Munros as short, medium, long and extra long days.
“From there, the runners decided which Munro or group of Munros they felt they could do in a day. It was a huge logistical task and everyone had to be very committed to the plan.
“And of course there was the weather to deal with. As it turned out the runners summitting Munros in the north-west has a challenging time because of cloud. For example, I didn’t see a thing on my nine Munros in the Fannichs.”
The age range of Munro baggers extended from three-year-old Rowan, daughter of Jasmin Paris, who summitted Carn Liath to 79-year-old Keith Burns. And while some people did one Munro, others completed long rounds.
Three club members reached the 12 Mullardoch Munros in under 12 hours, running almost 57km and a total elevation of 4409m.
Other big days included the 11 Munros on the Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye; a 42km and 3000m outing to the nine Munros of the Fannichs; a 65km and 4900m tour of the South Glen Shiel Ridge plus several more Munros; and all the Dearg Munros over one 44km outing.
Jeopardy with just hours to go!
At 7.06pm a Tweet from @Munrosinaday read: “Latest update is 251 out of 282 Munros bagged. A few people are out-of-contact putting in long efforts. 5 remain to be done on the Cuillin Ridge. It’s going to be a close thing – either way it’ll be an extraordinary effort.”
Then came a very anxious period of potential jeopardy at 9.30pm when the club realised that they may end up a Munro short of the full 282 round.
Mark said: “We had a system where each time someone reached a summit they texted the co-ordinator of the challenge. Every time that happened, he would tick off a Munro on the Walk Highlands map.
“We saw all the Munros go from red to blue throughout the day.
“But there were runners who had planned a big day out of multiple Munros in the Knoydart area and late on it looked like they might not reach their final summit, which was Gairich on Loch Quioch.
“Suddenly, we had to scramble for help and two members, Jonathon Marks and Mick James, who were staying nearby said they were available to do another Munro.”
Jonathon had already done the so-called Five Sisters and the Three Brothers of Kintail, as well as Ciste Dubh when he received the call for help. Mick had summited A’ Ghlas-bheinn and Beinn Fhada during the day, too.
But the pair didn’t head off for Gairich until past 10pm.
Mark said: “It was a stressful time where everyone was hoping they would make it to the summit but we just didn’t know if they would.
“In the end, they managed to get to the top of Gairich with 12 minutes to spare before midnight.
“It was an amazing day and a great effort from everyone who took part. We are very fortunate to have such a great club.”