The first finishers of The Great Outdoors Challenge 2017 have now arrived at their finish points after completing their journeys across Scotland.
Challenge Control report from the Park Hotel in Montrose that 48 Challengers have signed out at the time of writing, and that several more have been in touch to report that they’ve reached the east coast.
The remaining participants have until 5pm on Friday afternoon to sign out and complete their 2017 Challenge.
The Great Outdoors Challenge is an annual, self-supported backpacking event, created by Hamish Brown and supported by The Great Outdoors magazine since the outset. Every year, between 300 and 350 people take up the Challenge to walk across Scotland from the west coast to the east over the course of a fortnight. This year’s event started on Friday 12 May.
The weather during this year’s Challenge fortnight has been the mixed bag we’ve come to expect in recent years, with northerly crossings turning out drier and warmer than routes further south. There have been no issues with snow, which has mostly cleared for this year. But there were more midges than usual and, unfortunately, large numbers of ticks.
To date, 34 people have had to retire from their crossings, mostly due to problems with feet, which are partly a result of the heatwave immediately prior to the event.
Challenge Coordinator Sue Oxley says: “It had been so dry prior to the Challenge that the ground was unexpectedly hard and unforgiving, which seemed to produce more blisters and sore feet.”
Sue has been running the proceedings with the help of a dedicated team of volunteers – including Bernie and Pauline Marshall, Mick and Gayle Blackburn and John Donohoe – while fellow Coordinator Ali Ogden has participated in this year’s event, her 10th crossing.
Right now, Sue reports that Challenge camaraderie is going strong at Control and we are looking forward to welcoming all this year’s participants and joining you for a celebratory dinner at the Park Hotel. Emily Rodway from The Great Outdoors magazine will be joined by Challenge founder Hamish Brown on the Thursday night and Emily will also be around to welcome Friday finishers.
TGO Staff Writer Will Renwick (a Challenger last year) won’t be in Montrose this year, as he’s just completed a coast-to-coast of a different kind: the Cambrian Way, north to south through Wales. Look out for a full write-up in the magazine soon!