Mark Bartlett and the 600km triathlon

“On the 11th of May, I set out on a 600km triathlon across Scotland from Edinburgh to John O’ Groats to raise money for Scottish Refugee Council. The challenge entailed 4 legs, cycling from Edinburgh to Glasgow, walking the West Highland Way in 5 days, canoeing the Great Glen Way from Fort William to Inverness, and then cycling again to John O’ Groats.

After always wanting to do the West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way and realising the former ended at the beginning of the other, I said hell with it, I’ll do both! Then I got an offer to join some friends in Orkney for the folk festival and before I knew it I was planning an adventure from Edinburgh all the way to John O’ Groat.

As soon as I came up with the idea, I knew immediately that I wanted to fundraise and support refugees. Although I have always cared passionately about human rights, watching the refugee crisis unfold in the media over the last few years, I have come to realise that this is the greatest human rights challenge of our time. Not only are huge numbers of people facing the most appalling human rights abuses, but the world’s commitment to human rights is also being tested. I decided I had to do more. After doing some research, I came across Scottish Refugee Council. I was really impressed with the work they do to support refugees in Scotland. I especially like that they work with the most vulnerable refugees – e.g. families, unaccompanied children, and those living in destitution – as well as their working on multiple fronts, conducting research, pushing for policy change and promoting community engagement.

 

Whilst raising funds for Scottish Refugee Council, my hope was to also raise awareness of the urgent need to help refugees and to show refugees in Scotland they are welcome. Having met people from all walks of life across Scotland during my adventure, I am very pleased to say that the message back was a positive and confident ‘YES’ to refugees coming to Scotland. Whether in the mountain glens and villages of the Highlands or in big cities like Glasgow and Inverness, you are welcome!

Having never really been on a solo adventure before and wanting to actually make this whole endeavour genuinely challenging, I decided to do three out of the four legs on my own, which definitely made it harder! My oldest friend, Nihaar, joined me for my third leg, where we paddled from Fort William to Inverness together. I was very thankful to have some company at that time and for the stretch on Loch Ness – that thing is a sea when the waves and weather are against you.

The whole challenge took me just under two weeks and I spent the vast majority of it wild camping. The support, however, was amazing - I took a number of on-the-trail donations, free cups of tea, a couple of pints of beer from some locals at the Farr Bay Inn, and someone even paid for me to stay in a hostel one night. The last was very welcome after wild camping for over 10 days!! My well-meaning advice for future fundraisers is: do something original, actually challenge yourself (you’ll feel fantastic when you complete it), and don’t dither – just do it!”

Inspired by Mark’s adventure? Want to support Scottish Refugee Council and refugees in Scotland? Take a look at ways you can get involved

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