Up-country challenge

Christopher Godfrey-Fassett training for his Mad HaT challenge.
Christopher Godfrey-Fassett training for his Mad HaT challenge.

IT might be the first time it’s been done in Scotland. Two men have drawn a line up the country, at longitude four degrees west, from Kirkcudbright in the south west to Strathy Point on the north coast and one of them is going to run the line while the other bikes the coast to try to beat him.

Edinburgh investment manager Christopher Godfrey-Faussett of Friarshaw, Midlem, near Selkirk and colleague John Gunn came up with the idea over lunch one day.

The Mad HaT (Hare and Tortoise) Challenge becomes a reality next week when the pair leave the south west coast on Thursday.

Mr Godfrey-Faussett – and his wife Lady Diana, his support team next week – have form for this kind of thing: the pair were the first British couple to run the formidable Marathon des Sables – a five-day run through the Sahara in Morocco – in 1996. The father-of-four also ran the Himalaya 100, which turned out to be closer to 150 miles (“the guy couldn’t measure”), going from 6,000 to 14,000 feet in the Everest mountain ranges. He has also rowed the Irish Sea.

But the 47-year-old said: “It has to be emphasised I’m not very fit now and I haven’t really been doing a huge amount of training – I just go out when I come back from work.”

The former King’s Royal Hussars officer says he has been running in straight lines, climbing over fences and whatever else he comes across: “I’ve found bits of the Borders I would never have dreamed of finding if I had even been just walking.

“I’m looking on this as an adventure. When Livingston went to Africa he didn’t have a clue what he was up against, that’s what I want to do.”

The only thing he has tied down are the eight nights’ accommodation over the 350 or so miles he will cover.

He has allowed himself a leeway of 500 metres either side of his line but otherwise will be running, yomping, wading, swimming, canoeing and doing anything else self-propelled to get over mountains and through forests, across railway lines, to tackle the M74 and M8 (police willing), rivers, lochs and firths but he faces few built-up areas other than Motherwell, Airdrie and Cumbernauld.

Particular challenges will be the motorways, the Moray Firth, ticks and midges he said. But he’s thinking of turning the beasties into a fundraiser by asking people to guess how many ticks he has to pick off each day.

Meanwhile Mr Gunn, originally from Caithness, will be biking around the coastline – including hopping on and off Arran and Skye – and facing one of the UK’s steepest road climbs from sea level to 2,100 feet in five miles up the Allt A’Chumhaing glen. The former Caledonia Etape competitor – ‘he enjoys a good cycle now and then’ said Mr Godfrey-Faussett – will pedal about 800 miles in the challenge.

The pair have raised about £6,300 so far for the King’s Royal Hussars Appeal (40 per cent) –the regiment goes to Afghanistan early next year – Prostate Cancer Scotland (40 per cent) and the Borders Children’s Charity (20 per cent) with which Lady Diana is involved.

Online comments at their donation site so far range from “mid-life crisis written all over this” to “completely bonkers” to “must have been a very good lunch”.

Asked what he was looking forward to, Mr Godfrey-Faussett said “If I listened to everyone I don’t think I’d be looking forward to any of it – people seem to think I’m completely stark raving mad! What will be amazing, if the weather holds, is the scenery which will be just spectacular.”

As far as he knows their challenge is a first: “I don’t think anybody else has done this in Scotland.”

Followers will be able to get updates on the pair’s progress at www.madhatchallenge.co.uk being set up this week.

Mr Godfrey-Faussett will be tweeting if he gets to grips with the microblogging site Twitter before next week.

“I would love to say we are going to raise thousands and thousands of pounds. I hope we raise as much as possible. I’m hoping there might be a bit of a cascade effect and people who don’t know us start to give – that would be great.”

The colleagues hope to make Strathy Point on Friday June 10.

To donate, go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/madhatchallenge