It was a bright warm morning on Saturday, July 2 when three Mackie Academy FPs RFC players, Michael Levack, Craig Thompson and Richard Levack, dived into the icy Loch Ness waters to begin their marathon Highland Challenge.
After acclimatising to the seven degree water, they began the 1 mile swim across the loch and with two safety boats they made swift progress despite some strong currents driving against them.
Once landed they jumped on their bikes and headed off on the 35 mile cycle to Glen Nevis just outside Fort William.
Again the trio made quick progress in the ideal conditions and ended up at the halfway mark ahead of the support crew (who had stopped for a coffee!).
After the halfway mark the group split and it was every man for themselves to get to Glen Nevis as quickly as possible and meet again at the top for a team photo.
Some bike issues for Richard held him up slightly and with just two miles to go Craig frustratingly had a puncture but all three still hit the foot of Ben Nevis ahead of schedule, unfortunately for Mike he was ahead of the support team again.
On the Mountain the idea of running up soon became a distant memory considering the heat, the amount of people on the path and the effort already exerted that day.
still going at a fast pace they skipped past fellow hikers determined to get to the top as quickly as possible. Up front, Mike was toiling due to not getting any food at the transition and he contemplated waiting for people to catch up so he could get some sustenance. Luckily he used his survival skills to pick up a discarded banana which gave him the energy he needed to keep going.
Craig meanwhile had blitzed the first section of the mountain and caught up with his support crew who were expecting not to see him until the top! Rich too had arrived and was making excellent progress despite severe cramping as he got higher and higher. His progress was only slowed by a snow covered slope which he took 3 attempts to get up after slipping down twice much to the amusement of some hiking tourists.
At the summit it was freezing and with the guys in shorts and t-shirts there was no time to hang around and get cold so the guys logged their finish time and ran back down the hill to the bar at the foot of the path.
Mike finished in 4 hrs 25 minutes, Craig in 5 hrs 10 minutes and Rich in 6 hrs 20 minutes – well ahead of their expected finishing times.
The guys have raised over £9,000 for Mackie Academy FPs RFC and would like to thank each person who sponsored them and put money towards the cause.
Big thanks go to Rotech, 3Bcsl and MB Paving as their main sponsors as well as Bluewater Services. It was a great day and who knows they may even try the challenge again in the future and try to beat their times.