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Sophie leads the way in Great Glen challenge


By Matt Leslie


Sophie Dunnett, left, and daughter Oonagh race onwards to completion of the the Great Glen Way Challenge.
Sophie Dunnett, left, and daughter Oonagh race onwards to completion of the the Great Glen Way Challenge.

Thurso running coach Sophie Dunnett led a pack of fellow athletes over the glens in a massive jog from Fort William to Inverness.

Dunnett, who coaches Halkirk's own world mountain running ace Andrew Douglas, led 14 fellow runners across 73.5 miles – including 2000m of climbing – in the Great Glen Way Challenge.

The event, the first of what Sophie hopes will be many, came about when, having completed the arduous Eiger Trail Challenge in Switzerland last year, she had the thirst for another test of endurance closer to home.

However, the idea of doing the Great Glen Way had its appeal to others with 14 runners getting in touch with Sophie wanting to do the challenge with her.

The runs varied in length from 7.5 to 14.5 miles with climbs of over 750m on the highest routes.

The total distance was split over seven runs, on just over three days, with the runners starting in Fort William on the Thursday afternoon and arriving at Inverness Castle on the Sunday afternoon to an enthusiastic welcome from family, friends and tourists alike.

Sophie said: “I could not believe the interest in running the Great Glen Way. What started as a personal challenge seemed to have caught the interest of lots of other runners.

"All of the runners were provided with support through an online chat forum and training plans were written to allow runners to progress to being able to cover the distance required safely.

"All of those who took part had never completed an ultra event previously [anything over a marathon distance].

"The runners were from the far corners of Scotland, stretching from Shetland to Glasgow and over to Cupar, and did not come together until the day that the challenge started.

"With the support my husband, Graeme, the runners were picked up and collected at the start and finish of each run. Graeme also had the very welcome habit of appearing mid-run to provide encouragement to the runners and check on everyone’s progress."

Following the success of the inaugural Great Glen Way Challenge, Sophie is planning to do it all again next year.

She added: "The challenge was a massive success, due to the beautiful scenery and the group of runners who were all amazing.

"They got up every morning and ran, then rested, ate and did it all over again in the afternoon without one negative comment.

"The support for all of the runners by everyone in the group was a true credit to the shared belief in completing the challenge and I am so proud of each one of them."

The Great Glen Way Challenge runners take a brief rest.
The Great Glen Way Challenge runners take a brief rest.


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