Endurance athletes to take on 190km Hebridean island challenge

THIS weekend - Saturday the 3rd & Sunday the 4th of September - more than 120 endurance athletes and volunteer event staff will be heading to the Hebridean island chain of Benbecula, North Uist and South Uist, for the inaugural Heb - Race on the Edge, a two-day, 190km adventure challenge on foot, mountain bike and kayak.

The challenge will involve off-road running as well as mountain biking and kayaking. Picture: Carrick Pyro Armer
The challenge will involve off-road running as well as mountain biking and kayaking. Picture: Carrick Pyro Armer

The new multi-sport challenge will see athletes, competing as solos or pairs, take on the ultimate physical island journey with off-road running, kayaking and mountain biking.

With a strong emphasis on participation, camaraderie, enjoyment and fun for all involved, The Heb - Race on the edge is not purely the domain of the seasoned endurance athlete. Experienced adventurers, endurance mountain bikers and proficient fell runners from all over the UK will line up alongside enthusiastic newcomers to the world of multi-sport keen to test physical fitness, stamina and mental toughness levels whilst having a lot of fun along the way.

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The Heb has been designed to be totally achievable for any skill level, with less experienced competitors being able to take advantage of special ‘short cut’ options built into the route, and more experienced athletes able to push themselves as far as they can in order to make it to the top of the podium.

It will take in some spectacular views. Picture: Carrick Pyro Armer

Former double Duathlon World Champion, double Long Distance Duathlon World Champion and multiple Ironman and Ironman 70.3 winner, Catriona Morrison, is teaming up with Caroline Wallace, a PE Teacher at Peebles High School, to take on The Heb.

Cat Morrison MBE said: “I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting the Uists once before and it was a fleeting visit. I’m really looking forward to exploring the islands and I’m sure that The Heb will take us to stunning locations that few people have had the privilege to see.

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“I can’t wait to try my hand at something different. I’ve got no performance expectations other than having a great time. I just hope that Caroline [Wallace] feels the same…! Having a team-mate is also something I’m looking forward to. Endurance racing for me is something that has always been a singular pursuit. Having someone to share the journey with and all its highs and lows will be great.

It will take in some spectacular views. Picture: Carrick Pyro Armer

“I like the idea of racing with the added dimension of having to navigate and plan which route you are going to take. It’s certainly different to the triathlons and duathlons that I’m used to competing in. I studied geography at university and I’m a lover of the great outdoors but my map reading is a bit rusty. Still, that’s all part of the challenge!”

Paul McGreal from multi-award winning Durty Events, organisers of The Heb, said: “The Heb - Race on the Edge is a stunning and achievable journey through the best of the Hebrides, the ultimate outdoor playground. With seasoned multi-sport athletes competing alongside relative newcomers to the world of adventure sport we have planned a challenging and demanding route without it being intimidating.

“In fact we’re really excited by the course we’ve planned. It’s got a bit of everything – great hill runs (long and short options available – you chose to suit your strengths), scenic and exciting bike sections and some great, simple, safe kayak sections (with no special skills required). It is going to be an incredible experience packed full of life long memories . We look forward to welcoming all of our competitors on Friday evening in Mallaig before the start on Saturday morning.”

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “The Hebridean islands present a varied but always stunningly scenic landscape, making them the perfect stage for a multi-discipline event like the Heb - Race on the Edge.

“We are delighted to support The Heb through EventScotland’s National Funding Programme in its inaugural year and I’m sure that each of the athletes taking part will be provided with a highly memorable experience of competing over land and sea during this unique event.”

Paul McGreal will be joined in the organisation of The Heb – Race On The Edge by Gary Tompsett as course planner. Since 2001 Gary has been involved in the conceptualisation, ground planning and race directorship of almost every major adventure event to be staged in Scotland.

• Find out more about the challenge here.