Two of Scotland’s most celebrated sporting icons were doing a bit of Monster spotting at South Queensferry today. Rugby legend Gavin Hastings and middle distance running legend Liz McColgan revealed they are to compete in the First Monster Challenge, a 120km team relay running and cycling event around the shores of Loch Ness.
The event is hosted by bus and rail operator, FirstGroup. However, the pair were more interested in doing a bit of Monster spotting rather than bus or train spotting. They spent the morning on the Forth searching for the Loch Ness Monster!
They were not to be disappointed. Residents and visitors to South Queensferry were left open mouthed as they spotted a sensational appearance from Nessie who appeared to have taken a wrong turn and miraculously ended up in the Forth.
The 10ft spoof Monster was lurking underneath the Forth Rail Bridge today to help Gavin and Liz promote the First Monster Challenge, Britain’s most famous duathlon.
The running and cycling relay event, for teams of four, has already sold out with over 1,000 competitors registered. However, organisers FirstGroup today released additional places for the much sought after event.
Liz McColgan will be participating in her third Monster. She said: “The First Monster Challenge has become one of the highlights of my year. It really is a great event, as demonstrated by the demand for places this year. To have attracted over 1,000 competitors to an elite event in only its third year is a fantastic achievement.”
September 12 will see Gavin Hastings take on the Monster for the second time. “My aim is to get round in one piece!” he said. “It really is a tough challenge, but immensely enjoyable – the team spirit, the views, the organisation and the course itself are first class. The main aim of the event is to raise money for charity. First’s Monster events in 2008 raised over £150,000 for good causes – I am hoping that we can raise even more in 2009.”
“On race day we expect 1200 people to be taking part and a sizeable percentage will be raising money for good causes including First’s charity partner, Save the Children. 2009 promises to be our most successful year yet.”
FirstGroup is also catering for the UK’s fittest athletes. The transport giant expects around 30 individuals to take on the ‘First Iron Monster Challenge’ which sees competitors attempting the entire 120km course (40km running and 80km cycling) solo. So far around 30 finely tuned athletes have signed up for this event.
The First Monster Challenge, which has been officially accredited by the British Triathlon Foundation, consists of teams of four. Each competitor is required to complete two legs of the eight-legged event – one 10km run and one 20km cycle.
To sign up for the First Monster Challenge, the Iron Monster Challenge or for more information, log on to www.firstmonster.com.