Adventure Racing: 5 Of The Best Adventure Races In Scotland
Looking for an adventure race north of the border? Here's what Scotland has to offer.
With its mountains, its lochs, its rugged terrain and brutal weather, Scotland should be a top destination for anyone who loves adventure, adventure racing, and fitness in the outdoors. But be forewarned, venturing north of the border is not for the faint hearted. Many of the events up there will test you mentally as well as physically, and are a genuine challenge for even the most hardcore adventure racers and obstacle course enthusiasts. Those without a brave heart, need not apply.
If you're still up for a Scottish challenge and aren't currently cowering under your desk in fear, congratulations. You're made of appropriately tough stuff, and will probably be more than a wee bit interested in the following events. Welcome to Scotland. Land of adventure.
1) The Mighty Deerstalker - Rat Race
Where better to start with this ode to adventure racing in Scotland than Britain's biggest night race? Nowhere. That's where.
The Mighty Deerstalker from Rat Race, best enjoyed if you're part of a team, has developed a real cult status on the outdoor fitness scene. On paper, it's a running event with additional head-torches. However, in reality, it's so much more than that. You'll have to crawl/struggle up 1824ft of ascending trails, and wade through cold Scottish waters to name just two of the challenges you'll face.
Sounds a bit like hard work? That's because it is.
This legendary adventure race, located deep within the Scottish Borders, isn't all about the brutal adventuring though. It's also about the partying. And when we say "partying", we mean P-A-R-T-Y-I-N-G. Beer, live music, and the joy that comes with the camaraderie of celebrating your triumph alongside fellow adventurers...it's all on offer. Oh, and there's a free pint and bacon roll for anyone who signs up for the camping option. #Win
The event is held in March, with the 2016 edition currently scheduled for the 12th of March. For more information on the event, and how to enter, visit The Mighty Deerstalker Rat Race website. Go on. Go on. Go on. What are you waiting for?
2) Red Bull Neptune Steps
Red Bull Neptune has been dubbed the UK's toughest new adventure race, and one of the most intense adventure races Scotland has ever witnessed. When you take a look at what this unbelievably brutal event entails, it's easy to see why these comments have been made.
The race is a lung-busting 420 metre sprint swim through the Maryhill Locks in Glasgow, and incorporates eight climbs over the lock gates totalling a 17 metre ascent (cargo nets, ladders, and ropes etc).
Vertical. Horizontal. Vertical. Horizontal. Vertical. Horizontal. It's easy to imagine competitors who've taken on Neptune Steps to completely lose sense of which way they're going, and which way they're facing.
Speaking of the competitors, they're the elite of the elite; the fittest of the fittest, the best of the best. The 100 athletes who take part need to be the definition of hardcore, and should have some experience of adventure swimming, endurance challenges, and military/multi-disciplined events before taking it on.
Red Bull Neptune Race is a true test of speed, strength, and trying to understand the Glaswegian accent before and after the event. In 2015, this event was held in March. At the time of writing, there's unfortunately no news of a 2016 edition but keep an eye on the Red Bull Neptune Steps website (you never know).
3) Celtman! Extreme Scottish Triathlon
If the name of the adventure race event you're looking to partake in has an exclamation mark in its name, you can bet that it's going to be pretty damn extreme. 'Celtman! The Extreme Scottish Triathlon', which in 2016 will take place on June the 25th is no exception to this theory.
Centred around the stunning Torridon mountains in Wester Ross, this event is a challenging experience for even the most seasoned and well versed triathletes. A 3.8km swim in Loch Shieldaig, a 202km bike along Highland roads, before a 42km run over two Munros.
In Scotland, any mountain over 3,000ft/914.4 metres is classed as a Munro. Running over one of them would be tough, but two?! Thinking about running over two of them after you've already done a 3.8km swim, as well as a 202km bike ride, is enough to bring us out in a fearful sweat.
Started in 2012, there have now been four Celtman events. Across these four events, there have been 578 starters, 338 blue t-shirt winners, and 59 nations represented. Fancy an adventure race in Scotland? This might just be the most brutal one of the lot.
4) The Rob Roy Challenge
Rob Roy. Famous Scottish outlaw, delicious cocktail, and a film starring Liam Neeson (who plays the famous Scottish outlaw). But did you also know that Rob Roy is the name given to one of Scotland's most loved adventure racing events?
The Rob Roy Challenge, now in its 11th year, is one of the most successful fundraising events in Scotland. Since its inception in 2006, over 5,500 brave souls have battled the Scottish wilderness in order to raise a truly impressive £3,000,000 for a number of worthwhile charities.
There's now a central base at Kenmore and, due to its ongoing success, competitors no longer need to provide their own support teams for the event. The challenges offered by the Rob Roy event are as follows:
Schiehallion's Shadow - 16 mile walk, 56 mile cycle.
Big Red - 16 mile walk, 35 mile cycle
MacGregor's Leap - 16 mile walk, 15 mile cycle
Rob Roy Ramble - 16 mile walk
5) The Great Glencoe Challenge
The Great Glencoe Challenge has been labelled "Scotland's toughest trekathon." Now if you're not entirely sure what a trekathon is and where it fits on the adventure racing spectrum, allow us to fill you in.
In terms of distance, a trekathon is pretty much exactly the same as a marathon. The big difference, however, is that with a marathon participants run and with a trekathon they, you guessed it, trek.
Just like with a marathon, competitors of the GG challenge often take part in order to raise money for a charity of their choice. Competitors make their way across 26.2 miles of some of the most breathtaking landscapes that Scotland offers.
From Glencoe to Ben Nevis (Britain's highest peak), this is an adventure that's packing views you won't be forgetting in a hurry. The date for the 2016 edition of this spectacular outdoor challenge is the 2nd of July. Get it in your diary, and get training!