27 September 2021

Guest Blogger Caroline Evans

Caroline Evans and Karen Martyn Jones took on the Rat Race Scotland Coast to Coast, earlier this month, traveling from Nairn to Ballachulish. The event includes 21 miles of running, 82 miles of cycling, a one-mile kayak and a whopping 7,850 feet of elevation.

Here's how they got on...

Karen was looking for a birthday challenge and her first multi-sport event. She asked if anyone fancied joining her on a 105 mile Scottish coast to coast event and very soon Karen and Caroline were signed up! We both love the great outdoors, Scotland and running. Caroline just had the minor detail of not owning a bike, neither had cycled longer distances or kayaked.

Caroline and Karen in the cycle legWe signed ourselves up pre-Covid, so when Covid came along it meant spinning lots of plates between working frontline as physiotherapists, home schooling and family life. Choosing to complete our challenge for Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity was simple. The charity does so much for us as clinicians by supporting projects, well-being initiatives and courses; as well as providing us with equipment for our patients. For us it was the perfect way to say thank you and show our support.

Being completely new to cycling we had a very steep learning curve, learning how to fix punctures, mechanical issues, types of bikes, tyres, gears, what to wear and more importantly what not too! 

We were both incredibly nervous leading up to the event. It was the biggest challenge we had ever done and it would be our first time riding in a group, let alone being in a kayak together! We had to carry our kit, all our water and food and be self-sufficient in the event of any mechanical issues, the thought of which filled us with fear!

We started the event in an Amber weather warning with heavy rain and gale force winds but that didn’t dampen our spirits and we laughed our way through the 21 miles of running and 84 miles of cycling. With 10 miles left of our 105 mile adventure, we were plodding along a mountain ridge with what we thought was the finish in sight, just down the Glen. Eagle-eyed Karen then spotted dots in the distance going up an even bigger mountain than the one we were stood on, “Ooohhhh there’s another event going on over there!” Sadly there was no other event, it was our route!Caroline & Karen at the finish line

We finally reached the kayaks and the real finish was in sight just a mile across the Loch. We were asked to “put your (life) jackets on”, a very tired Caroline, obediently put on her rain jacket with the guy stood holding her life jacket in disbelief! The strongest kayaker was advised to go at the back. Caroline nominated Karen as she thought surely no one could be as bad as her in a kayak!  It wasn’t until we were half way across the Loch that Karen announced she’d never been in a kayak before!!! However we successfully managed to kayak across the Loch dodging the seals in a sort of co-ordinated fashion. After a gruelling, wet, windy and hilarious two days (15 hours) the sun shone for us at the finish of our incredible Scottish coast to coast adventure.

It was a privilege to be on the start line for this event and we are both immensely proud to have made it to the finish and made unforgettable memories along the way. We have been completely blown away by everyone’s support and generosity and raised a massive £2,124.10 for Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity - thank you!

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