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Day one... the start

I had one of those stressful sleeps, where I kept dreaming I’d slept in. In my dream I woke up at midday and had missed the start of the Challenge. After an hour of tossing and turning, I gave up on sleep and decided to take an early morning walk around Fort William.

All over town were groups of walkers and support teams preparing themselves for the next 24 hours. Standing by their people carriers and vans, they were checking their equipment and chatting in excited and nervous tones.

It was a perfectly still morning, with the sun making occasional bright bursts through the clouds. As I made my way back to my guest house, I saw a couple of walkers wearing their yellow participant numbers, and ‘see you Jimmy’ hats.

Next stop was the starting point for the walk in Glen Nevis. Hundreds of walkers had assembled for the 9am start. The first group I met were Group Security and Fraud 1 from RBS. I asked where their team name had come from, and they conceded it was just the name of their team at work… Hmmm, could do better, it wasn’t a patch on team name You take the high road and I’ll take the car.

As we chatted, I found out team mates Kyle, Scott and Kevin had taken part in the Challenge at least three times before, whereas it was a first for team member Andy. Out of this conversation, a new team name was born… Three Veterans and a Virgin! They were hoping to both walk and run the route and raise £3,000.

I think a new world record was set this morning… The largest ever midge gathering! There were 1000s of the wee blood suckers feeding on us as we counted down to the start. Everyone was well prepared with their bug repellent sprays and nifty Cal Chall hats with integrated midge net.

Apart from the buzz of midges, there was a hum of excitement from the walkers as they limbered up for the walk. They laughed and joked, and took lots of photos. Amongst the chatter were lots of international accents: American, Spanish, French, Swiss, and of course, the RBS team who had flown in from India to take part for the second year.

The Caledonian Challenge is a brilliant teambuilding event. Lots of corporate teams take part and benefit from their businesses matching their sponsorship to help raise even more money for the Scottish Community Foundation.

Hoping to raise £3,000, a team from Headland Archaeology, made up of archaeologists from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Wolverhampton, decided to take part on the recommendation from team-mate Lillian Owiti who completed the Challenge last year. In preparation, Susie Blake walked seven and a half miles home from work three days a week, and they did longer walks on weekends including the Southern Uplands and the Union Canal. They even overcame adversity, when one of the team members tripped during a practice walk and fractured her wrist. Sticking together as a team, they got home safely, and were ready to tackle the walk today.

Right, time for me to head south and find out how the walkers are doing after the first section of the walk… after I’ve tended to my itchy blotchy midge bitten face that is!

Posted by Nadine on 14/06/08 12:44


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The RBS Caledonian Challenge
 

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