Celtman warrior Rob gets the job done in memory of dad

Torwoodlee's Rob Quarm gets a quick rub down from friend Tracy Elliot during the race.
Torwoodlee's Rob Quarm gets a quick rub down from friend Tracy Elliot during the race.

A BORDERS fitness instructor has returned from an epic journey in the wilds of Wester Ross having achieved both a personal goal and a £5,000 charity target in memory of his dad.

Rob Quarm, 31, from Torwoodlee Estate near Galashiels, took part in the inaugural Celtman extreme triathlon at the end of June.

Race organiser Paul McGreal from Selkirk gets the Celtman underway.

Race organiser Paul McGreal from Selkirk gets the Celtman underway.

Rob lost his father Bill to cancer in February this year and having seen at first hand the work carried out by health carers and Macmillan support workers, decided to set himself his biggest challenge yet.

It saw him swim 4km in a sea loch, cycle 200km on a road bike and run 40km off-road over two Munros in Torridon.

He told TheSouthern: “The journey to the Celtman was even more significant than the day itself and the day was epic.

“There probably hasn’t been any other day in my life that I can remember so much time and so many moments from, other than that one. 16-and-a-half hours is a long time to retain memory for but it is still vivid in my mind.”

Originally from North Uist, Rob is a trainer with Borders Sport and Leisure Trust and Stobo Castle, and has been competing in triathlons for the last three years. Last year, he completed the half ironman triathlon Highland Warrior, but the Celtman is the longest and toughest triathlon he has tackled.

“One of the hardest things was holding it together at that last summit when I put a stone on the cairn for my father,” he recalled.

“He and my mum were my foremost thoughts. I shed a little tear and started to peg it back to the finish line stronger than I thought was possible. I am proud to say I won that battle with a Highlander-style war cry and perhaps a very wide elbow style of running.”

The fitness expert, who lives with his partner Tracy Elliot and their son, Sebastian, eight, signed up for fellow Borders resident Paul McGreal’s ironman-like race before his father became ill with colon cancer, and his most recent endeavour has raised £5,300 for Macmillan Cancer Support with the total still rising.

Rob admitted that the months leading up to the Celtman filled him with fear and trepidation, but that his unwavering desire to succeed and single-mindedness towards his cause made him resolute of its importance and also ultra-determined to accomplish his task.

He explained: “I was uncompromised in the feelings that this would go some way towards settling the balance (hence my passion and urgency) that I felt was due in return for my dad being allowed what I feel was a very beautiful death, if such a thing exists.

“My father was allowed a great privilege indeed and we, the Quarm family, are all grateful to Macmillan and the health care team of the Uists for helping this to happen. And, of course, to all those who supported me on my journey.”

Rob, who already leads more than 20 fitness classes a week, started training for the race in November, but stopped during his father’s illness, restarting at the end of February.

Earlier this month he completed the Selkirk triathlon (60 lengths of the town’s pool, 39km cycle ride and 10km run) – then ran up the Three Brethren.

Race organiser McGreal, from Selkirk, was also taken aback by the popularity and achievement brought about by his event.

He told us: “The Celtman was truly an epic and awesome day out (not words I use regularly).

“Amazing people doing amazing things in an amazing place ... I’m slightly overwhelmed by the whole thing and what was achieved by everybody. This is a very, very, special race.”