Paul’s new Heb race

SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 21 / July / 2012 : 'The Durty Triathlon'1500m Open Water Swim'30km Off-Road Mountain Bike'10km Off-Road Run. Paul McGreal event organiser
SELKIRK, UNITED KINGDOM. - 21 / July / 2012 : 'The Durty Triathlon'1500m Open Water Swim'30km Off-Road Mountain Bike'10km Off-Road Run. Paul McGreal event organiser

A SELKIRK company is reviving an iconic adventure race in the Outer Hebrides next autumn.

Durty Events is restarting the multi-discipline, multi-day Hebridean Challenge race through the Outer Hebrides in September.

Durty Events founder, triathlete Paul McGreal said: “The new Heb will be easy to take part in, but still a tough challenge – less logistical fuss, less cost, less hassle and less time than in its previous guises, but definitely packed full of all the adventure, excitement and fun that the event is renowned for.”

The race started as the Western Isles Challenge (WIC) in 1994, the first multi-sport adventure style race to take place in the Outer Hebrides, starting at Barra’s Castle and finishing at the lighthouse at the Butt of Lewis.

Some of the world’s best multisporters have competed in the Heb Challenge, which succeeded the WIC, including Robert Nagle from the legendary Eco-Internet team, John Jacoby (Australia), Ike Wilson (US) and Helene Diamantides (UK).

Mr McGreal explained why he has taken on the challenge of reviving the race: “I’ve done it myself three times and absolutely loved the whole experience: they were some of the best weeks of my life. When I was starting out in multisport and adventure racing it was the ‘must do’ race in the UK – doing the Heb was a necessary initiation into that world. Having done it, I understood why.

“It was a huge disappointment to see the race dwindle and then die, both from a personal perspective, and from a ‘general health of UK adventure racing’ viewpoint. I was aware that a lot of people felt the same way, and there was a lot of love for the race. However, that wasn’t translating into entries or the race would have survived.

“I thought in 2013 I’d finally be in a position to do something about it – I’ve hopefully collected the experience, knowledge and contacts over the last few years to make a success of it, and I’ve also now got the time needed to devote to such a huge event. Winning the British Triathlon’s Event of the Year for the Celtman this year (in the race’s first year) has also upped the credibility levels of Durty Events – people know and trust that we’ll deliver something good.

“I’ve thought long and hard about the race, and have taken soundings from a lot of experienced racers. What came across loud and clear was that a change in format was required – the old race was just too daunting and complex, was very expensive in terms of time and money to take part it, and the logistics (hiring vans, finding expert kayakers etc) were prohibitive.

“So the Heb is now shorter, simpler and less expensive, but no less challenging or adventurous.”

The new Heb will start from a secret location on September 5 and finish on Barra three days later. Teams of three or solo athletes will be expected to navigate their way to various checkpoints along a 420km (260 mile) route with mountain biking, off-road running, open water swimming and kayaking sections along the way.

The course has yet to be finalised but organisers are looking to include Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay and Vatersay on the route.

Well known course planner Gary Tompsett will be organising the new race with Mr McGreal. He’s best known locally as the deviser of the Deerstalker race at Traquair but has been involved in the major adventure races in Scotland since 2001.

Durty Events runs the award-winning Durty Tri at St Mary’s Loch – and next year will introduce a new standard length triathlon at the loch in July – and the winter duathlon series at Bowhill, Selkirk (next race, Sunday January 27).

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