A fundraising campaign for Lomond Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) will see three women running 60 hilly miles to reach 19 trig points, reports Fiona Russell.
After months of training, the day of an extraordinary fund-raising running challenge is almost here – and Jenny Allen, Jamie Aarons and Alex Berry are nervous but excited. The trio have set themselves a tough goal to cover 100km (60 miles) in a day - including a total ascent of 5000m (16,404ft) to reach 19 "trig" points.
The terrain in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park will be rough and boggy. To add to the intensity of the Trig Point Challenge on April 6 and 7, the women hope to finish in 24 hours.
But the cause is a good one: To raise funds for Lomond MRT, which is one of the busiest volunteer rescue teams in Scotland. The fund-raising run was Jenny's idea. A long-standing member of Lomond MRT, she wanted a creative way to raise awareness of the work of mountain rescue teams and all the volunteers.
The 39-year-old from Aberfoyle says: "I started looking at the map of the MRT boundary, which covers some 1000 square miles, and I saw there were trig points spread across the area. They are marked by small triangles on OS maps.
"I think trig points are amazing things because they formed the basis of our modern maps. Then, I started to look at how many trigs I had visited.
"The idea came to me that we could try to visit all the 19 of the trigs in one outing."
What are trig points?
The trig points – or triangulation stations – form part of a huge mapping project, the Retriangulation of Great Britain, undertaken by Ordnance Survey (OS) in the early 20th century. More than 6500 concrete pillars – each around 4ft tall – were installed across the UK countryside from 1936 onwards.
The pillars allowed surveyors to attach theodolite equipment for charting the lay of the land. They measured direct lines and angles to and from these fixed points – called triangulation – to create the original OS maps. Modern technologies, such as GPS, mean the traditional trig pillar is not necessary any more, but many thousands of trig pillars still remain dotted across rural areas and on hills and mountains.
Jenny adds: "I have always thought that triangulation – the use of lines and triangles to map the land – was such a simple idea although very clever.
"In addition, maps and grid references are integral to what we do as walkers and runners, as well as when working as part of a mountain rescue team. The whole idea just seemed to come together, especially when Jamie and Alex agreed to do it, too."
The Trig Point Challenge
On Saturday 6th April, Jenny, Jamie and Alex will set out to reach their first trig point on the 684m summit of Maol Mor in the Trossachs, above Loch Katrine. Maol Mor is also the most northerly trig point in the Lomond MRT boundary area.
Their final trig will be on the top of Ben Lomond (974m). This is the most westerly trig of the challenge and it will also include the greatest ascent - over 800m from base to summit.
The most southerly trig is located at a height of 171m on Hilton Golf Course, in Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire, and the most easterly is Scout Head in Stirlingshire at 215m.
The trio will be supported by friends, family and fellow team members. There will be some motorised transportation of around three hours on public roads to get between some hills.
Jamie, 39, of Carbeth, Stirlingshire, said: "If all goes well, we may sneak in a finish under 24 hours."
But she added that there are many unknowns that could hamper their progress, especially the weather.
Jamie, whose partner Andy Taylor is a member of Lomond MRT, says:
"Many of the trigs require an arduous trek through rough terrain, over moorland, through thick vegetation, forestry and wet bog and peat. We will need to be very smart with our navigation and pace ourselves carefully.
"The 60 miles is a very long way to go on foot over rough countryside in one outing."
Alex, 34, of Whiteinch, is also a member of Lomond MRT and trains with the Westerlands Hill Running Club. She admits she is apprehensive about the challenge.
She says: "It is a step into the unknown for me. I've never completed a 24-hour event but with two determined and experienced ladies beside me I am sure it can be done. We have been training as much as we can. I have also enjoyed the chance to explore the quieter areas of our MRT patch and to gain valuable local knowledge that might come in useful in a future rescue."
The women are hoping that to raise as much money as possible though their challenge.
Jamie says: "It's going to be tough, no doubt about that, but more than worth it if we can raise some funds to support the exceptional work done by mountain rescue teams."
Ian Dawson, a spokesperson for Lomond MRT, is impressed by the trio's goal. "It's clear you don't have to travel to the ends of the Earth to set a genuine challenge" he says.
"Alex, Jenny and Jamie's Trig Point Challenge is unique and an ambitious ultra-marathon, by a strong team, to visit the four corners of the team's call-out area. It's amazing the lengths our supporters go to. Good luck from all at the Lomond MRT."
Lomond MRT is one of the busiest rescue teams in Scotland and depends on fundraising to maintain its vital emergency service.
- To donate, see justgiving.com