It is one of the most gruelling endurance pursuits in Scotland, if not the world, which pits man against peaks in the harshest winter conditions.
But in a show of strength and determination, a former Marine has broken the record for the notorious Ramsay’s Round challenge, running and climbing some of the country’s most imposing mountains in less than 24 hours.
Donnie Campbell, a personal trainer from Edinburgh, shaved off 12 minutes from the existing record for the gruelling 60 mile challenge, which includes an ascent of 28,500 feet up no less than 23 Munros and one smaller summit.
The epic adventure saw the 32-year-old run through the night in order to complete the arduous route in a time of 23 hours and six minutes.
Mr Campbell, an accomplished ultra-runner who has raced in the Namib desert and competed in high-altitude marathons in the Mont-Blanc valley, said nothing compared to his latest pursuit.
Describing how he felt “terrible” at the finishing line, he admitted it was the “hardest thing I have done in my life.”
He said: “It was harder than running Glasgow to Skye non-stop. I had zero left in the tank, or in my stomach for that matter. I spewed a fair bit up there, but my support crew, some energy gels and tomato soup got me through.”
Mr Campbell’s race against the clock followed a route well worn over the decades by some of the world’s most committed endurance runners.
It began in 1978 when Charlie Ramsay, a member of Lochaber Running Club, was inspired to attempt the run by Philip Tranter, the son of Scottish author Nigel Tranter. Some 14 years earlier, he had established his own challenge, bagging 19 Munros in 24 hours.
Undeterred, Mr Ramsay added on a few more Munros and tasked himself with completing them within the same time limit. It was an achievement he completed just in time, finishing the course in 23 hours and 58 minutes.
Since then, less than one hundred people have completed the challenge, with Mr Ramsay’s record falling in 2013 when Jon Gay ran the distance in 23 hours and 18 minutes.
Now, however, Mr Campbell’s time is the one to beat. His mammoth run began at 9.10pm on Friday evening when he set off Glen Nevis Youth Hotel. As temperatures plunged to -4C, he headed for the Mamores range, taking in 11 Munros and the treacherous Devil’s Ridge.
After a quick breakfast on Saturday morning at the north end of Loch Treig, he changed clothes before joining up with fellow athletes, Tom Owens and Dr Andrew Murray for the final leg, running into the Easains and Grey Corries, before heading over the Aonachs, Carn Mor Dearg and finally, Ben Nevis.
Mr Campbell, originally from Skye, added:”Ben Nevis is a fantastic mountain to finish, and a relief after sliding around on the Carn Mor Dearg arête. Sprinting down off the top in the dark and sneaking under the record was definitely worth it.”
Mr Owens, 35, said: “To do the Ramsay Round in summer is epic, but on one of the shortest days of the year it is some effort. Donnie did most of the route on his own, but the parts I did were beautiful, but also super-slippy on the ridges. It was a huge achievement mentally and physically.”