8 Sep

Monster Hurdle For Sally

Sally Gunnell with primary school kids

Olympic heroine Sally Gunnell is back in Scotland this week to take part in the First Monster Challenge, a 120km team relay duathlon around the shores of Loch Ness. Speaking to scottishrunningguide.com Sally confirmed that she would be joined by husband Jon Bigg and two hard-core fitness fanatics from Sussex to attempt to finish top of the sell out field.

"I'm looking forward to competing in the First Monster Challenge; I've got two legs - the first is my running section and the second the bike leg. The first leg is going to be tough as my training was disrupted by a niggle during the summer but I'm planning to enjoy my second stint as I've managed a few miles cycling on road and feel good about that.

"I did get some valuable pre-First Monster Challenge at the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow on Sunday and was happy to jog round in 49.20 - had to keep something in the tank for Loch Ness."

The Olympic gold medal winner also took some time out to visit Hilton Primary School in Inverness to promote FirstGroup's new event, the Mini Monster. The mile long event coincides with Saturday's First Monster Challenge, and is aimed at families and children. Pupils from Hilton Primary School are expected to turn up in their numbers to run, walk or cycle the Mini Monster.

Sally proved a big hit with the school's 350 pupils, especially as she brought along her treasured gold medal that she won in the 400m hurdles at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. She also gave a brief talk to the pupils encouraging them to take part in sport and did a question and answer session.

Sally Gunnell played down her team's chances of winning the First Monster Challenge: "I have a good team and we are quietly confident of doing quite well, although I think winning the event may be a little on the optimistic side. The main aim is to get round in one piece, enjoy the weekend, raise money for Save the Children and beat Gavin Hastings' team."

She added: "I am seriously looking forward to getting out on the course and sampling the scenery."

Sir Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive of event organisers FirstGroup, commented: "We have been overwhelmed with the interest in the First Monster Challenge 2010 - indeed we sold out a few months ago with some 230 teams of four taking part. We are very lucky to have attracted sporting icons such as Sally Gunnell and Gavin Hastings. I hope they and all our competitors enjoy the event, get round safely and raise lots of money for our charity partner, Save the Children."

On Friday 10 September competitors will attend a safety briefing and pasta party at the event's start and finish point, Queens Park Stadium, Inverness, before rising for a 7am start on race day - Saturday, September 11.

The First Monster Challenge, which has been officially accredited by the British Triathlon Foundation, consists of teams of four. Each competitor is required to complete two legs of the 8-legged event - one 10km run and one 20km cycle.


  1. Paul Rogan said...

    Money talks!! It is an absolute disgrace that this event has been given permission to take place. A few years ago it was recommended that the Great Glen Relay from Fort William to Inverness was stopped due to health and safety issues. The route followed the canal from Fort William to the half way point where it turned right and headed along the back road to Inverness. The race was held on a Sunday and teams set off at first light with teams staggered depending on ability. Each team consisted of 6 runners and there were usually 12-16 teams. The entry fee for the event for each individual was around £2. The Forres Harriers supported the event from the start and felt it was the best team/social event on the running callender. So can someone please explain why this great event was told to stop with around 70 to 100 competitors and this new monstrous event is allowed to take place with around 1000 competitors using the same stretch of road?

    Following Paul's post scottishrunningguide.com spoke to Graham Whyte who was involved in the organisation of the now defunct Great Gen Relay. Graham confirmed that the event is sadly missed by the clubs and runners who took part. Although he was disappointed when the police withdrew their approval for the event and made it prohibitive to secure insurance cover, he understood their decision. Graham said: "The Great Glen Relay was a grand end of season event that was to a large extent self-organised by the participants. Marshaling was minimum and competitors timed themselves. However with growing interest - more runners, more cars etc - it was becoming difficult to sustain. "I've actually taken part in the First Monster Challenge and it's a superbly organised event. The team behind it obviously has the resources to make it work so maybe Paul has a point when he says 'money talks'. "
  3. Jenny Henderson said...

    Can the Scottish Running Guide please interview a police representative as well? Then we can have an explanation as to what the organisers of an event 10 times the size of the Great Glen Relay are doing that the Great Glen Relay organisers weren't?
  4. Douglas Cowie said...

    I have been running for nearly 40 years and was involved in the first Great Glen Relay organised by the late Eddie Campbell. My team Forre Harriers were the team winners that day. I have since took part in this event many times. To reiterate what has already been said it was a fantastic event. A couple of pounds to enter, no prizes but a great days competition thoroughly enjoyed by all taking part. Although the total entry was around 15 teams, teams came from all over Scotland, BUT, at any one time a maximum of fifteen runners on the roadd at any one time. I have commented on the Monster Challenge in the past.and my views havn't changed - it stinks!