Monday, February 25, 2008

The Great Outdoors Challenge 2008

Some of you reading this know that I am going to be taking part in the 29th TGO Challenge this May. The rest of you are learning as you read this post. The Great Outdoors Challenge (TGOC) is an annual hiking event held mid-May in Scotland. 300 people have two weeks to trek from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland. Participants can start from about a dozen different official starting points and conclude on the eastern shore at a comparable number of finish sites. How they walk from start to finish is entirely up to each person doing the trek. If you want to make your trek a remote, wild camping extravaganza you can do that, rather stay at inns and B&Bs along the way then that is fine too, or some interesting mix of the two. You determine your route and then get advice from eent organizers on the best way to achieve your goal. Obviously anyone can hike across Scotland whenever he or she wants but by taking part in this event you get the support of the event as well as the built-in camaraderie that comes when you take part in something that is bigger than yourself.

I sent in my application and ws one of the lucky 300 (they had about 416 people) to be drawn this time around. People who do this trek once tend to do it again and again and while the vast majority of participants are from the UK their are people from other countries too. I think this year North AMerica (I'm hedging my statement here) has 16 people making the trip. That's the most that have ever gone. 

Over the next several days I'll be posting some of my thoughts on how my trip prep has gone so far; the nature of the event itself, what I hope to get out of the trip, what I expect to be the toughest aspects of the trip, and so much more. It has already been a remarkable journey and I already owe a great debt of gratitude (and perhaps a drink or three) to event organizers who have helped me so far. But it goes beyond the official organizers since I have received advice from people both in and outside of the States who have done the trek before. In some respects this will be the most involved hiking/backpacking trip I have ever done. While some aspects of the trip should be, if not easy as such, easier than some things I have done; others have definitely required more work and will no doubt continue to require more work.

It's been a great ride s far and I expect that to continue. 
Next time I'll start a small series on my route planning and how that has gone to date. It has had its ups and downs and certainly been a time consuming and wallet-busting affair. But if it all comes together as I think it now will my chances of completing th trek in the required time should rise considerably.

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