ONE OF THE most physically demanding distance events ever to have been held in the Highlands is returning this year.
Cairngorm to Coast was introduced last year and set athletes the extraordinary task of trekking 33 miles from the Cairngorm Ski Centre to Ballindalloch Castle – followed immediately by a cycle over the same distance to the gates of RAF Lossiemouth.
Organised by Outfit Moray and Bike Revolution alongside Team RAFBF Lossiemouth, the event ultimately raised £5000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund – but proved such an incredibly difficult test that only two competitors, both members of XV Squadron RAF Lossiemouth, managed to complete the route.
Now the organisers have revealed that the challenge will return in 2016 – and are laying out a challenge for individuals and teams from throughout the UK to accept a bigger and altogether tougher test of their fitness and stamina.
Three challenges have been set for the 2016 event covering distances of between 30km and 100km.
Team RAFBF Lossiemouth Spokeswoman for the event, Karen Cox, said: “We are very excited to be able to run Cairngorm to Coast for a second year and are hoping the event continues to grow in the coming years
“To be able to offer an event like this is fantastic and we are very lucky once again to have the amazing support of Outfit Moray and Bike Revolution.
“The full distance this year will see entrants in the Gold test cover 30km on foot from the Cairngorm Ski Centre to Grantown, where they will transition onto bikes for a 70km ride to RAF Lossiemouth.
“We have also set a Silver test that will include the 30km hike followed by a 36km bike route that starts at Grantown and finishes at Dallas Dhu, while the Bronze test will involve the 30km hike only.”
The challenge will see the walkers and cyclists cover some of the most stunning scenery in the country, starting along the path to the Ptarmigan Centre in Cairngorm before descending into Coire na Ciste.
Grantown on Spey will be a welcome sight for the walkers at the end of their 30km hike – but for those transitioning to bicycles the challenge is far from over, as both bike routes follow the Dava Way to Dallas Dhu. That will be the end of the road for Silver entrants – but the true elite athletes will then follow an additional route through the Moray countryside to RAF Lossiemouth.
Karen added: “This is not a challenge for the faint-hearted, it will require proper training and only those who have readied themselves for the challenge will be able to complete the entire distance – as witnessed last year when we had only two finishers.
“We hope to raise over £5,000 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, who have been supporting member of the RAF family since 1919 and need to raise over £21m this year to continue their work.”
All entrants will be required to attend an mandatory safety briefing on the eve of the event – Friday, May 27 – at the Beach Bar in Lossiemouth.
Further details can be obtained by contacting the event team by email email@example.com or by telephoning Karen on 01343 813999.