Walking down stairs is a long drawn out affair. Each step brings a slight wince.  My mind goes back 48 hours to a dark, drenched mountainside in the highlands of Scotland. Cold, wet, caked in mud, but forcing a path forward to contribute to the teams efforts.
There are 130 mountains in Scotland over 1000metres, or 1km high. No-one had deliberately run these in a continuous journey.  That was the idea that struck Paul Fettes, as he surveyed a map of Scotland. Would it be possible?  How can we do it?
Here is the Archies Map you can use
Paul works as a doctor in Dundee, and together with his colleagues dreamed up the Archies Mountain Challenge. These 130 mountains, now dubbed “The Archies” constitute a challenge for anyone really looking to test themselves and enjoy the hills of Scotland.  How about we set the bar high thought Paul, and do them all as a continuous journey, running or walking each mountain, and cycling and kayaking between them. To make it more fun, he involved as many of his family, friends and work colleagues as possible.  After all, it would involve as much ascent as climbing Mount Everest 10 times.
It was a great honour to be asked to get involved  in the Archies Mountain Challenge  and the 2 weekends I spent with the challenge were as incredible as they were different. The first mountain was Ben Wyvis, north west of Inverness, and whilst the runners hared up the hill, carrying the baton (a fluffy rabbit) with them, I walked up with a group walk alongside my wife Jennie, while we carried our baby Nina with us. Despite variable conditions Nina loves the great outdoors, yelling and giggling her way up the mountain before we turned round as the heavens opened.
Before I had the chance to rejoin the challenge for the final push, another 100 mountains had been climbed, some in sun, some wading through knee deep snow but always with the rabbit in tow. Of the hills we climbed on the last weekend, the most memorable for me were Schiehallion- named as “the Fairy Mountain of the Caledonias”, which saw another group event of families and friends ascending into the (predictable) cloud and a further outing involved climbing around Ben Challum from Glen Lyon and taking in some summits there including “Mountain of the great waterfall and big white horse”. With weary legs I chased Joe Symonds skyward as we both laughed at the disparity in climbing ability. Joe has been ranked as highly as 4th in the world for mountain running, and as ever I was eating his dust as dark fell. We had been scheduled to fit these mountains in in a bid to help the team complete the challenge the next day, and with anxiety we surveyed the map. We had gone too far, and missed one of the mountains. We would need to retrace our steps, and find Ben Challum. We could see the length of our arms and no further.  A cairn!  The summit filled us both with the relief of not letting the team down, and we descended through the boulderfield and mountain paths to some warming soup.Ben Wyvis. The first Mountain
The following day saw the team cycle down to the appropriately named Rest and be Thankful.  A new record had been set, with over 40 people contributing to setting a new target.  The challenge had the aim of setting a new and achievable challenge for hill lovers in the UK. The Munros (the 282 mountains in Scotland that are over 3000 feet (914 metres) are spectacular, but can take a while, and taking on The Archies is something people can do.
Creighton Adams once asked “how do you eat an elephant?” The answer is either one bit at a time if trying yourself, or to involve people and get the job done together. Climbing each of the 130 mountains over 1000 metres could be done in bite size chunks at weekends by individuals/ groups while the Archies Mountain Challenge succeeded in a single push relay.  Although I had a fairly minor part in it, I was proud to join Paul, Ben and the team in raising awareness for the Archies Foundation (please donate if you can at the link below), and setting a new challenge that we hope 100 years from now people are still taking on.
Link to donate

mountains Physical Education


Running Scotland’s 10 highest mountains in a day sounded like a great idea. And it was. Several times this had come up in discussion over the last year, and if it is being talked about, it may well be worth doing.
The Big 10 are spread across 3 ranges, with Ben Lawers north of Loch Tay, the Nevis Range adjacent to Fort William, and the Cairngorms east of Aviemore. To climb them all within 24 hours would take a lot of training, teamwork, and a bit of driving! Donnie Campbell and I train together quite a bit, so taking this on with Donnie would almost seem like another long day in the hills. An apocalyptic weather forecast had ensured that all waterproofs in my house were packed, and we relaxed at Firbush, getting kit ready the night before. With the weather, and the fact that due to a sore back and hip I had slept on the floor rather than the bed for the 2 nights before I was a little nervous.
First up was Ben Lawers at 1,214 metres. Waved off by Donnie’s fiancée Rachael (also our expert driver for the day) and the team from BBC’s Adventure Show we ascended into the mist, heading over Bein Ghlas, before summiting Ben Lawers itself in under an hour before jogging down where Rachael awaited to drive us to the Nevis Range. Apart from having to run more upright than normal, my hip and back were only niggling.
The clouds broke as we drove through Glen Coe, offering high hopes of cloud free mountains. Marco Consani who is the British Champion for 24hr running joined us for the next 4 peaks Aonach Mor, Aonach Beag, Carn Mor Dearg and Ben Nevis itself. Fantastic views turned to cloud as the summits approached although route finding was straightforward. Doing live radio whilst running along the Carn Mor Dearg arête tested the balance as did weaving in and out of a throng of other folks out on the hill heading down the tourist route from Ben Nevis

10 peaks challenge
10 peaks challenge

Throughout we had made steady progress through the stock of food in the car, and had been keeping a close eye on the forecast which had promised torrential rain and thunderstorms. Although this seemed less likely with the updated forecast we packed plenty of kit and hit the high Cairngorms. Ross Lawrie was helping the BBC with some filming with the go pro cameras in the Cairngorms, as had Marco in the Nevis Range. Cairn Gorm mountain was the only one all day that was not clouded over, offering smashing views on the descent towards Ben MacDui and into the Larig Ghru. By the time we summited MacDui it was raining steadily, making the boulderfield descent into the valley treacherous. With the legs emptying and the weather deteriorating we pushed on to Braeriach, Angels Peak before finishing up on Cairntoul.

Donnie had navigated expertly all day, and looked distinctly fresher than I as we descended back towards Aviemore. I felt pleased, wet, tired and perhaps most of all relieved that my back had not ‘gone’ completely, and the weather had been short of the disaster forecasted. It had been a great day shared with friends, and whilst I enjoyed the running (on the whole) as any runner will tell you, having a support crew as brilliant as Rachael, Ross, Eilidh and Marco made it twice as good.
Apparently this may be the first time that the highest 10 mountains in Scotland / the UK have been run in under 24 hours. We finished in 13 hours 10 overall, running for 9 hours 10. I hope other people will give this a go, perhaps a little like ‘the 3 peaks challenge’ aiming under 24 hours, whilst I am sure with more helpful conditions (or a faster pair of legs than mine) some could aim to go faster.
Kit wise I was brilliantly looked after as always by Merrell, wearing the All Out Rush shoes, and various combinations of clothes. We were using the run to draw attention to the benefits of exercise for health, and getting out in Britain’s great outdoors, and have been raising a little cash for SAMH and their Get Active Campaign. Thanks to everyone for their outstanding generosity, if you can spare a few pennies is on
Another campaign well worth checking out is the Fit in 14 campaign. A big part of the stuff I do is the amazing support and feedback. Thanks to all for messages, generosity and support. It really is appreciated. A common question I have been asked is when will the adventure show features be broadcast. When I know, I will post this to the blog.
Thanks a million
Merrell UK

Health mountains


Donnie Campbell and myself are going to try to run the 10 highest mountains in Scotland in a day. We are doing this because we had a free Saturday and fancied a challenge, but also to raise some money and awareness for SAMH (each penny makes a huge difference) and for the Fit in 14 campaign which is well worth supporting.
Some information about the challenge is going out to a few papers and magazines – give me a shout on if I can help with further information and the below
Scottish International distance runners Andrew Murray and Donnie Campbell are set to attempt a climb of the 10 highest mountains of Great Britain in a day. Taking on a challenge that may not have been completed before, on the 19th of July they will first run up and down Ben Lawers before driving to then take a route including 4 mountains through the Nevis range, followed by another drive to the Cairngorm mountains, where the final 5 mountains await. The challenge, billed “The Big 10” will be followed by a team from BBC Scotland’s “The Adventure Show”, and may well set a marker that will see others trying to go under the magical 24 hours, with faster folks going for any potential record.

Andrew & Donnie, running up Mount Kilimanjaro
Andrew & Donnie, running Mt Kilimanjaro 2013

Dr Murray, 33, races for Merrell UK, and is a GP based in Edinburgh, whose previous conquests include completing a remarkable 2,559 mile run from Scotland to the Sahara Desert, a 7 hour run up Mt Kilimanjaro and races won in some of the most spectacular and hostile locations on Earth. He is part of the sports medicine team at the sport scotland institute of sport.
He said:

There is nowhere I would rather be than in the mountains of Scotland on a summer’s day. This will be a tough but beautiful shift, but what we are hoping to do is raise awareness of the benefits of exercise, and being in the great outdoors. We know for example that even doing 30 minutes walking 5 days a week has been shown to make people happier on average, and live 7.2 years longer, so we’re urging people to build walking into their routine, and take advantage of schemes like Fit in 14. It’s inspiring what some people have achieved for example Paul Giblin running the entire length of the West Highland Way in 14 hours 20 minutes, but even a little exercise goes a long way towards happiness and health.

Training in Edinburgh
Training in Edinburgh

Campbell, 29 is a running coach, and a former Marine Commando based in Edinburgh who previously ran from Glasgow to his former home of Skye without stopping.
He added:

It will be a 4 am start, followed by a full day of up and down, up and down. It is a completely do-able challenge, and we hope people will give ‘The Big 10’ a shot after us. Some fresh air and a load of hills might give us sore legs the next day, but it’s much underestimated how good exercise is for mental health as well as physical health, which is why we’re encouraging everyone to get active in whichever way suits them ahead of the Commonwealth Games, and are looking to support the Scottish Association for Mental Health, whose Get Active campaign is doing loads to increase Scotland’s mental health through physical activity

The Route:

Mountain Height (metres)
Ben Lawers 1,214
Aonach Mohr 1,221
Aonach Beag 1,234
Carn Mhor Dearg 1,220
Ben Nevis 1,344
Cairngorm 1,244
Ben MacDui 1,309
Braeriach 1,296
Angels Peak 1,258
CairnToul 1,291

Merrell UK