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Plug pulled on Great Wilderness Challenge in Poolewe as coronavirus crisis triggers plans for virtual alternative to help hard-pressed charities


By Hector MacKenzie

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Great Wilderness Challenge.
Great Wilderness Challenge.

Ross-shire's biggest one-day fundraising event has been cancelled for a second successive year because of the coronavirus crisis.

Uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the decision to pull the plug on the Great Wilderness Challenge in Poolewe.

Organisers have instead decided to host a virtual event in a bid to help charities which have "experienced a gaping hole in finances" over the pas year.

The event – offering a variety of routes to runners and walkers – has raised over £4million for charities since initially being run in 1986 to support the Highland Hospice project.

Organisers said: "In fairness to those who have already signed up, and everybody else intending to do so, we felt that an early decision was important.

"Social distancing, which is estimated to go on well into the autumn, makes the in-person event impossible once again, too dangerous for participants and the local community alike.

"In order to be able to help our charities, we have concluded that going virtual is the only viable alternative for this year."

They say that the challenge has been for over 30 years a regular source of revenue for some core charities "which all experienced a gaping hole in finances last year. This course of action means that with your help, we can continue our support to them this year."

The virtual event panned allows entrants to choose their own route and location, whether walking, running or cycling, while observing government safety guidelines applicable at the time of your challenge.

How it works

Sign up as usual at Sientries, where you can get a link to set up an online fundraising page with Just Giving. Alternatively download entry and sponsorship forms from the website, or contact GWC secretary.

Choose your own challenge loosely based on usual GWC distances. Lowered entry fee – £15 adults, £10 teenagers applies to all challenges

Attract sponsorship using online fundraising page, downloaded sponsor forms or other available online platforms. We also encourage you to introduce new friends, anywhere, to our virtual event. This year there is no restriction on numbers or geographical boundaries – this event can be completed anywhere in the world.

Complete your challenge at a place, date or time convenient to yourself anytime between July 1 and August 31. Enjoy it as if you were still back in Poolewe!

Advise GWC when you have completed, with an account of where and when completed. We welcome anecdotes, quotes, photos etc. An online newsletter is proposed for later in the year.

Submit your sponsorship not later than end of October.

What team GWC does

Receive and collate all online and offline entries

Provide information/advice as required

Receive sponsorship in September and October. All monies must be received by October 31

Post out medals and issue completion certificates to all entrants after challenge completion.All entrants raising at least £150 sponsorship will also receive a GWC t-shirt.

In November arrange for cheques to be distributed to the supported charities

Then start preparing for the 2022 Challenge on Saturday, August 13 when hopefully we will all be able to participate together as before back in Poolewe.

Entry details are now available via GWC website www.greatwildernesschallenge.info

Related: Great Wilderness Challenge 2020 is cancelled

Entries open for 2021 after disappointment of cancellation

PICTURES: Memories of epic times in the great wildnerness


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