Endurance athletes scale UK’s 10 highest mountains in one day

Endurance athletes Donnie Campbell and Andrew Murray — both of whom have strong links to Skye — scaled new heights at the weekend by succesfully running the UK’s 10 highest mountains in one day.

The duo — running in support of the Scottish Association for Mental Health — completed their feat in 13 hours and 10 minutes. It is thought it is the first time “the Big 10” have been scaled within 24 hours. A total of nine hours and 10 minutes was spent running, with the remainder driving between the mountain ranges.

Setting off last Saturday at 4.20am their first mountain was Ben Lawers, followed by a drive to the Nevis Range where they completed Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag, Carn Mor Dearg and the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis. A drive to the Cairngorms led the pair to a traverse of Cairngorm, Ben McDhui, Braeriach and Angel’s Peak before finishing the challenge on Cairntoul at 5.30pm.
Donnie (29), a former Marine Commando who is now a running coach based in Edinburgh, famously once ran from Glasgow to Skye without stopping.

Speaking of the weekend adventure Donnie, whose parents live in Portree, said: “We are hoping that other people will take on The Big 10, much like the ‘three peaks’ challenge. With a decent level of fitness it could be great day and a do-able challenge, that people can give a shot.

“Saying that, low visibility and changeable weather makes finding the routes and navigation tricky so it’s important to have competent mountain skills or a professional guide with you. Some fresh air and a load of hills might give us sore legs the next day, but it’s underestimated how good exercise is for mental health as well as physical health, which is why we’re encouraging everyone to support the Scottish Government’s Fit in 14 campaign, and the Scottish Association for Mental Health’s Get Active campaign.”

Andrew (34) is a GP in Edinburgh, but also has family links to Trotternish in Skye. He said: “The mountains in Scotland are magical. The Big 10 had it all in terms of spectacular ridgelines, some wildlife and highly-variable weather. We had fog, wind, rain, and even a glimpse of sunshine. We were both glad that the promised thunderstorms did not materialise. For me, definitely the toughest part of the day was dealing with the wind, rain and low visibility in the Cairngorms when we were already tired. There were a few boulder fields to cut across which were pretty slippy, resulting in a few comedy falls.

“Part of what we were looking to do is draw attention to the benefits of getting regular exercise in the great outdoors. It really gets the happy hormones going, and helps prevent and treat over 40 major health problems. Even walking 30 minutes, five days a week, increases your life expectancy by over seven years.”