A Ballymoney man and his three intrepid friends have competed in an intense and physical endurance race in Scotland to raise much needed money for the NSPCC.
Chris Gault and his mates Rhys Jones, Jonny Elliott and John Martin travelled to Inverness recently to take part in the Dramnuie Persuit.
The competition involved completing nine challanging activities including archery, buggy racing, white water rafting, rock climbing, abseiling, power boating, hill running and mountain biking over two days.
Committed to scaling mountains, negotiating white water rapids and pushing themselves to their physical limits for vulnerable local children, the team started the pursuit in the Isle of Skye and finished in Inverness.
In order to participate in the pursuit the team of young men had to to gather as many public votes as they could on behalf of the NSPCC. The team gained enough votes and where automatically entered into the competition.
Chris explained: “We decidied to raise money for the NSPCC because my mum and Dad are teachers and have worked along with the NSPCC before. Jonny Elliott has also worked with the charity as well so we have had a lot of connections with them.
“To help gather more votes we had to make a promotional video and post it on online. Once we had done this we got as many friends, family, relatives and university class mates as we could to support us.”
Attracting participants from all over world including nine teams coming from the UK, a team from Europe and a couple of teams from the USA, the whole event was a tremendous success.
Chris added: “To take part in this as you can imagine it has taken a lot of hard and intensive training. With all of us being at university and living in Belfast we have been running up and around Stormount for some weeks now. We have also been going moutain biking at Belvoir Forst Park and thanks for some of our friends who got us kayaks we have been going kayaking at Shawsbridge. Thankfully all the training paid off and despite the strong competition we did well.
“Camping in Inverness on the Friday night was fairly horrendous thanks to the weather. Then it was up on Saturday at 5am for the start of a packed day of events. Arriving at the Isle of Skye the adrenaline really got going, and it was time to take on a bit of fell running.”
Describing the Boc Baeg mountain biking and run as “just awful”, Chris said that it was undeniably the toughest part of the challenge: “We did well, but it was so bad! The main thing though – despite the rough ground – was that no-one was injured.
“Fortunately it was really well organised, and among the ten teams everyone got on very well. Of course there was a healthy dose of competition, but it was fairly relaxed. I would have to admit that we were the main instigators of morale boosting and general friendly abuse! You need it to keep on going when things are getting tough.
“Our best result came with the white water rafting when we were narrowly pipped to the post, but were still a very respectable second.”
Exhausted, the group was only too happy to enjoy some Drambuie hospitality on the Saturday night: “Fortunately we were put up in a hotel for the final night. I don’t think we could’ve stuck another night on the campsite after all we’d experienced that day. All round it was an absolutely great event, and the team spirit really helped to spur us all on and make the most of the challenge.
“While our bit is done, I would encourage local people to do theirs for NSPCC Northern Ireland - a local charity that does so much for vulnerable young people. We are continuing to raise funds to help NSPCC end cruelty to children by fighting for their rights, listening to them, helping them and making them safe, and I would urge the people of Ballymoney to consider making a donation by visiting www.justgiving.com/shambuie.”