RAF Benevolent Fund supporter Karen Cox from volunteer group Team RAFBF Lossiemouth was one of the organisers of their recent 'Cairngorm to Coast' trek to raise money for our work. Karen tells us more.
"Who would want to bike and hike 66 miles through some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland?" That was what we asked ourselves and, as it turns out, plenty do!
We have been fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund since 2012 but were keen to organise our own outdoor challenge and when a local RAF Benevolent Fund supporter, Tug Hallam, told us about his idea, we jumped at it! Trekking from 3,600ft to sea level in 24 hours – what could possibly go wrong?
We approached Outfit Moray, a local team of outdoor adventure experts, who were as keen as we were and never looked back from there.
Never having arranged anything like this before, the event was a huge undertaking from the team and the learning curve was steep from beginning to end.
The logistical support was all being provided by Outfit Moray, but we still had to set up entry forms, arrange payments, create information packs, source resources and much more.
Begging and pleading resulted in some brilliant sponsors coming on board almost immediately, allowing us to focus on our £5,000 target for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Ballindalloch Castle proved to be almost exactly half way and seemed to be the perfect backdrop for our halfway staging point to the bikes and, thankfully, the owners agreed and the final piece was in place.
sing all our canny ways, we promoted and pushed the event locally, on base at RAF Lossiemouth and in the Cairngorms, using every tool we could use and without paying a penny of course!
So there we were, on 23 May, five months in the planning, with 18 mad people starting their 66 mile trek.
The day of the trek
Conditions underfoot took many by surprise and the Outfit Moray "blister team" were quickly busy plastering and healing. Volunteer marshals cheerfully handed out cake, drinks and cheers of encouragement at all the check points along the way and the sun shone happily on us all.
All was going perfectly to plan but then the rain started. The predicted 3pm arrival at Ballindalloch Castle became 9pm. As the evening progressed, more and more competitors made it back to Ballindalloch, some under their own steam, some having been picked up at a check point. Most were unable to go on, the walk had been punishing and they were exhausted.
Finally, to our relief, at 2am, Cpl Emma Zweig and Cpl Rebecca Scott crossed the finish line! A few hours later two more crossed the line, meaning four out of 18 starters finished!
When asked "Would you do it again?" the resounding answer was "definitely"!
By Karen Cox