Gerard’s team, The Barbies, has won the annual pub quiz many times during the Challenge's 14 year history, but it’s the scenery, friendship, fun and stress-free environment that bring him back each year. He tells us more.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am a young-at-heart Vet60 mechanical engineer from Gloucestershire, with 2 grown sons. I enjoy travelling, reading, music and, of course, a bit of running.
Tell us a bit your running history. What kind of running you enjoy best?
I actually shunned all sporting activity until I reached 40! A bit of (initially reluctant) gym work led to me start rowing for Gloucester, which unfortunately I had to give up due to tendonitis in 2000. I then needed another way to stay fit so I turned to running. I never have been (and still am not) a good runner but competing takes me to places, home and abroad, I would not normally visit. I prefer road running but do occasional cross-country if the event is right. I’ve now started competing in sprint triathlons, which seems a younger person’s sport but I haven’t come last yet!
How many times have you been to CWC?
I have only missed two - the very first one and the one that was cancelled. So that makes it 11? 12? (Editor – probably 13!)
How did you first hear about CWC and what made you come to the event for the first time?
I saw an article in Runners World. This must have been a review of the first Challenge, but as a new runner I didn’t think I was capable of completing the event at that time. However, I have always loved North West Scotland and decided to take a holiday and just have a go! I took it easy that year and did the short runs. I found the locals and the competitors very friendly and encouraging. I was asked to join a marathon relay team (they were obviously desperate!) and The Barbies pub quiz team also adopted me. I was a winner that first year – obviously in the pub quiz, not the marathon!
Tell us what makes the event special to you? What makes you come back?
The scenery. The camaraderie. The friendship. The fun. Getting away from all the pressures of general life - you are so far away from it all in such a beautiful place, which is so de-stressing. Many of us return every year and it is such a great reunion. And of course the ceilidh.
What is your favourite race or run at Durness?
Believe it or not the marathon. Running out to the lighthouse is such a joy. To have the opportunity to run in such beautiful scenery is bliss. I have now run it in all weathers but that feeling is there every time. Unbelievably, it still remains my fastest ever marathon. I can’t really explain this considering the terrain but it must be due to the lack of event pressure and that uplifting feeling - good for the spirit and the soul!
What is your favourite part of the week, or favourite thing to do in the area?
I can’t split out one thing. The whole week is so good.
What are you most looking forward to when you return?
See earlier answers about why I come back!
Describe Cape Wrath Challenge week in three words...
Fun. Friendship. De-stressing.
Tell us about your all-time favourite run (that's not in Durness!)
I can’t name one in particular because running has given me the opportunity to take part in unusual races, in beautiful places and the opportunity to run where you wouldn’t normally be allowed access. All those races become special for their location or the type of event.