THE ISLAND MUNROS TRIATHLON
A non-stop triathlon journey over the Scottish Island Munros.
300km and 7000m+ of ascent.
On Sunday the 22nd August, Alex Moran and Mike Coppock completed the first ever Island Munros Triathlon in 32 hours and 22 minutes. Scaling 13 munros with 6461m of ascent and covering 309 km of distance between them.
The athletes dreamt up this epic adventure with the goal of raising £10,000 for The Martin Moran Foundation. Never before have all thirteen of the Scottish Island Munros been attempted in a single non-stop push by running, cycling and swimming through the dramatic landscape of the North West Highlands. Munros are defined as any Scottish mountain over 914m in height, there are 282 Munros in total across Scotland and 13 of which lie on islands.
The clock started at 10am at the foot of the Greater Cuillin Traverse, which is considered to be the UK’s finest and most difficult mountaineering challenge. This first leg covered 12 Munros and required running, scrambling and sections of climbing with extreme exposure in unfavourable weather conditions. After the 33km and 3323m of ascent, the pair were straight onto their bikes to begin the 244km cycle through the night on some of the North West Highlands' most beautiful and gruelling roads to the sleepy coastal village of Lochaline.
On arrival in Lochaline, the athletes had very little time to rest and refuel as wetsuits were pulled on within minutes to catch the slack tide. Plunging into the deep and frigid waters of the Sound of Mull at midday on Sunday to complete the 3km swim over to the Isle of Mull. The strong tides and busy shipping route made for a daring crossing as sleep deprivation set in.
Once the athletes made landfall, they were back in the saddles for a further 24km cycle to the base of the last mountain climb. With a final 960m climb on tired legs, their epic journey came to an end on the Summit of the final Munro, Ben More, 32 hours and 22 minutes after their start line on the Isle of Skye.
Commenting on their achievement, Alex Moran said: “It was a euphoric feeling to reach the final summit on Ben More. Like all endurance events, there were some extreme highs and extreme lows, especially on the overnight cycle, but with the support of each other, the crew and the generous donations made to Foundation, I was motivated and inspired to push through to the finish.”
Reflecting on the ups and downs of their epic journey across the Highlands, Mike Coppock said: “With the extremely wet conditions on the Cuillin ridge and two hours over schedule, it seemed like the chance to swim the Sound of Mull safely, based on the tides, was slipping away. If it wasn’t for the support and motivation from all the crew, it wouldn’t have been possible. It was a real team effort!”
The Athletes were supported by family and friends who went to great lengths to drop food in precarious locations, drive the distance and stay awake for the full 32 hour epic. With special thanks to Hamish Frost who took to the mountains with his camera to photograph the athletes; Andy Neison, owner of South Skye Cycles who not only sponsored the event with bikes and equipment and joined the support team all the way to the summit of Ben More; Dave Murray, Finlay Matheson and Roger Coppock who provided the safety boat support ensuring a safe passage across the Sound of Mull; Joy Moran, Hazel Moran, Andrea Howard, Steve Walls and Ibrahim and Hafiedha Park who all played a vital role in making this challenge a success.
No other mountain triathlon with as many metres of elevation, technical climbing difficulty, summits and distance in one non-stop effort is known to have been recorded and the Island Munros Triathlon is being hailed as one of the toughest in the UK.
If you would like to congratulate this amazing effort and help Alex and Mike reach their fundraising goal, click the link below. Your donations will fund places for young people on this years mountain adventure programme in October 2021.
THE CUILLIN TRAVERSE
Glen Brittle Campsite to Bla Bheinn car park
27.2km + 4500m+
NW HIGHLANDS RIDE
Bla Bheinn car park to Lochaline
243km + 1200m
THE SOUND OF MULL
Lochaline to Fishnish point
Fishnish Ferry to Dhiseig
23.6km + 80m
Dhiseig to Summit
4.36km + 945m
Throughout the challenge, Alex and Mike were supported by a team of close friends and family. The Greater Cuillin Traverse was done in a self-sufficient style but the following cycles, swim and run had aid stations at regular intervals and a safety boat to accompany them on the swim.
All funds were raised in support of The Martin Moran Foundation, a charity close to the hearts of Alex, Mike and the whole support team. The charity was set up in the name of the pioneering mountaineer Martin Moran, who we sadly lost in the Himalayas in 2019. The Foundation's mission is to make the outdoors more accessible to young people, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to engage, learn and thrive in the outdoor environment. The Martin Moran Foundation is sponsored by Mountain Equipment, who also be promoted and assisted with the Island Munros Triathlon.
Alex and Mike both have long histories in mountain sport and endurance challenges. Both were lucky enough to grow up in the North West Highlands of Scotland in Lochcarron village. Inspired by the dramatic mountains of home, they have carried on their mountaineering, skiing, cycling and running interests throughout the world.
Mountain Instructor & Athlete
Alex is a qualified mountaineering instructor with a wealth of experience in the mountains from Scotland to expeditions in the Himalayas. He also has a keen interest in ultra-running and endurance cycling. His intimate knowledge of the Cuillin Ridge will prove invaluable during the Island Munros Challenge.
Ultra Marathon Athlete
Mike is an accomplished ultra-marathon runner and holds the fastest known self-supported time on the GR11 Trans Pyrenees covering 832km and 40,642m of ascent in 16 days 9 hrs 4 minutes. Mike is well practiced in pushing his body to the extreme on little sleep, a key skill for this challenge.