When Dean Ashby’s dad John died under the care of the amazing Myton at Home team in April, he knew he wanted to hit the fundraising trail for the Hospice to say thank you.
The former Royal Regiment of Fusiliers soldier, 51 ...
wanted to do something tough, something to test him, and something reflective of the support Myton gave his dad – and his grandad 20 years previously.
Dean with his Dad John and Mum Cherie.
So when his Facebook feed popped up with the Isle of Arran Double Ultra Challenge – a two-day, 60-mile challenge across the rugged terrain of the Scottish island, he knew that was the one for him.
Once he’d decided on the challenge ...
Dean approached his friend and running pal Demsey Slater to see if he’d be interested in signing up too. He did, and they did, and the rest is history.
Dean penned a blog about their experience, so it’s over to him to tell his and Demsey’s story:
Isle of Arran Double Ultra 2021 I thought: it’s a civilian event. Surely with the amount of health and safety regulations in place these days, it can’t be that bad….I was wrong.
I’m talking about the Ultra Tour of Arran 2021, an ultra-marathon on the Isle of Arran, an island off the North West coast of Scotland.
An island famous for its ...
wildlife, mountains, whiskey, gin-clear rivers, and calm sea. I first spotted the event six months before in Spring when I was looking at ultra-marathons.
Facebook was listening to me and the race popped up on my Newsfeed.
As anyone who knows me will know, I like a challenge. And I had found something that would test my stamina and mental ability.
I mentioned it to Demsey. He thought I was mad, but he was interested. We’re both very competitive and have that drive to win at all costs, a never-give-up attitude.
So we started preparing for our first ultra-marathon across trails and mountains.
What trainers would we wear? What kit would we need to camp in Scotland in October? What training was required to run 2 x 30 miles across mountainous terrain?
We paid the entrance fee and committed. The sponsors started rolling in.
On the day, October 2, it was a 4am start to drive to Glasgow.
Watching our ferry come in at Ardrossan, we could see the sea was far from calm. Luckily, our ferry arrived on Arran after a choppy 55 minute crossing, ahead of the storm that was brewing.
We disembarked in Brodick, registered at the event village, picked up our satellite trackers, and then set up our tents. It was cold, and very soon the rain came. Then the wind.
We crawled into our tents for an early night but it was a cold, wet night.
The next morning, our alarms were set for 05:30 to get breakfast for 06:00.
A briefing announced the start of the race on day one had been delayed from 07:00 to 12:00 due to ferries being cancelled because of the rough crossing. Staff and paramedics were stuck on the mainland.
We were glad when we did start, a loop of the south of the island, the less mountainous of the two days.
After a mile of the run, we headed up a good incline, and then another very good steep slope. This was to be the theme of the day.
Dropping down from the hills to the coastline, and then climbing back up. We were rewarded with spectacular views and enchanting woodlands, but the inclines were crazy!
However, after an amazing day’s effort, we completed the 21 miles in 4hrs 40.
A 33 mile loop of the north of the island, the mountainous section.
We were ready for the 07:00 start from Brodick beach, and pretty soon we were climbing the first mountain. It was savage; rain, fog, sleet, freezing temperatures.
We crossed the mountain ridge and then headed down to the sea, no path, just peat bogs and plenty of water.
We were literally running through ankle deep water for long sections. We dropped down into Lochranza, a small village on the coast.
The sun came out and we enjoyed a 10-mile leg around the north east coast of the island across rough beaches, picking our way over large rocks.
As we approached the village of Sannox, we were required to complete a slippy river crossing.
Then we headed back into the mountains. The climb was once again brutal. We had already run a marathon, and now we had to scale Goat Fell, the highest mountain on the island standing at just under 3,000 feet.
When we were about 200ft short of the summit, a marshal greeted us adorned with ropes, harnesses, and climbing gear.
He told us ...
Climb up to James lads. He’ll tell you what to do from there.
We began free climbing a vertical rock face. James watched us and was apparently happy with how we handled the climb because he instructed us to carry on climbing.
Off we went again, water pouring down on us, no ropes to hold us safe if we placed a foot in the wrong place.
We hit the summit and had a six-mile run back to the finish line.
A new energy came across us as our competitive edge emerged. As we ran down the mountain, I looked back and saw a group of five people closing in on us. “Demsey, we ain't being overtaken now mate, let’s get moving.”
As we got below 2,000ft, the sun came out and temperatures rose. We still had our waterproofs on and we needed to strip back to our t-shirts to avoid overheating.
Dean, I need to stop to take my waterproof off.
Demsey said through heavy breathing.
No, do it on the move.
We kept moving, heaving off our rucksacks and waterproofs on the move.
Our don’t-stop tactic paid off. We overtook another six people and lost the group chasing us.
The last leg was a mile run down the beach across sand. With one last push, we crossed the line. We were running on pure adrenaline. I had not felt that way for many years.
It’s a reminder of what the human body can do: 54 miles across incredibly hard going with over 9,000 ft ascent. Thanks Demsey. You delivered. And in the process we have raised £4,000 and counting for The Myton Hospices so thanks everyone.
Dean’s Isle of Arran Ultra Challenge is not the only support he is giving to Myton.
The Senior Business Manager’s team at the Coventry Building Society Fulfilment Centre in Leamington and Coventry have also selected Myton as their Charity of the Year and have a whole host of fundraising events lined up for the coming 12 months and beyond.
The team will be taking part in ...
various Myton events such as our upcoming Santa Dash on December 12th – and Dean will also be putting some of his colleagues to the test with some endurance challenges too – including climbing Snowdon, quite possibly in Santa Suits, and a tricky New Forest hike.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported our challenge and donated so generously to this truly amazing cause.
As a family we can’t praise Myton enough for the amazing love and care they gave my dad and the entire family and I’m so proud and delighted to be able to give something back.
I’m also delighted that the team at CBS have chosen Myton as our Charity of the Year – we have some great things planned and hope to raise lots of money while having a great time along the way.
I hope people will be inspired by our efforts and will donate generously or sign up to their own challenges to support Myton. Thank you.
You can still donate to Dean and Demsey’s challenge by clicking here.
All of us at Myton would like to say ...
a huge thank you to Dean, Demsey and everyone who has supported and sponsored them. We are so grateful for their commitment to completing this challenge for the cause and for the incredible amount raised to help us continue to provide our vital services for those who need us most, now and in the future.
Thank you, you are truly amazing!
And if their efforts have inspired you to hit the fundraising trail, click here where you’ll find out what the latest upcoming Myton events are.