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Highland Twist

07 November 2014

The Caledonian Challenge is one of the biggest and longest running outdoor endurance events which sees teams follow the West Highland Way to raise money for Foundation Scotland.

THE 54 - the ultimate challenge - (54 miles/24 hours) kicks off at Gairlochy on the Great Glen Way and ends at Strathfillan Wigwams, near Tyndrum.

THE 24 (24 miles/12 hours), a slightly less gruelling Challenge, starts in Glen Nevis and ends at Glencoe Ski Centre. 

Over 17,000 Challengers have conquered the events since 1996, raising an incredible £13M for Foundation Scotland.

James Braddon and Jon Harvey from team ‘Highland Twist’ tackled THE 24 in 2014, and have already signed up to take on the ultimate Challenge – THE 54 – in June 2015.

Team Leader James is a glutton for punishment. He originally signed up to take part in THE 24 back in 2011 to get fit and lose weight – and hasn’t looked back since, completing either event every year since (during this time he has lost 3.5 stone and six inches of his waist!).

His team are based across the country in Edinburgh, London and with James himself in Harrogate, but this hasn’t held them back. In fact, training and fundraising for the event has proved a great excuse to meet up and build great friendships.

Each March, the team lace up their walking boots and head to either the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales for the weekend. James said, “Training is a great way for us, as colleagues, to leave work behind and get to know each other in a completely different environment. It’s a real team building experience and a unique way to get to know people you might not otherwise spend time with, especially since we are all based in different parts of the country!”

Highland Twist were the first Challengers to cross the finish line at Glencoe in 2014, having run the 24 mile route in under six hours! Part of the urgency was in fact that James had to attend his sister’s wedding in Harrogate the following day!

Despite all of the blisters, sweat and tears (!) – and saying ‘never again’ when they reached the finish line, Highland Twist knew they wanted to come back for more.

They have recruited a new team member (Richard Morrison) and are keen to capitalise on last year’s success. James said, “We have a team of mixed experience this year, but have high hopes of coming in on good time – and hope to be one of the first few teams across the line at Strathfillan.

“We know it’ll be a real physical and mental challenge, but the atmosphere and the support shown by volunteers is always fantastic, and I’m sure it will help spur us on those last few miles.”

When I asked James why he keeps coming back, his answer was simple, “This isn’t just an event, it’s a life changing experience – from start to finish. For us it begins, when we pack up the car and set off for the stunning Scottish Highlands to register on the Friday before the event. The fun and games soon begin, and we kick start with a quiet pre-Challenge drink the night before, which sets us up nicely. From there on, it really is an incredible weekend – the highlight for me being the spectacular views of Rannoch Moor and Buachaille Etive Mor when you reach the summit of the Devil’s staircase – there’s nothing quite like it.” 

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