Two long-term supporters are once again pushing their bodies and minds to extreme lengths to raise money for Bath Rugby Foundation.
Next month Stuart Doughty and ex-Bath Rugby prop David Barnes will take on the Montane Spine, which is billed as “Britain’s most brutal race”.
The pair have hardly become strangers to remarkable feats of endurance in recent years, with the famous desert race the Marathon des Sables and the Grand to Grand challenge in the US under their belts, not to mention running from Twickenham to the Rec in just over 24 hours.
However, their previous challenges have had one thing in common that they didn’t want to repeat on their next physical trial – the heat.
And if it is low temperatures the duo had in mind they have certainly found them as they head north in January to the Peak District to run the 268 miles of the Spine route through the Yorkshire Dales and over Hadrian’s Wall.
“It seems to be the most difficult endurance race in the UK, which ticks a box with us,” said Stuart.
“It’s very cold. Our previous challenges have all been hot. We just thought this one was difficult. As well as the temperatures there’s navigational challenges.
“Also in previous events the tents are there for you when you arrive (at the end of each leg). With this you only have a tent if you carry it with you.”
Stuart and David have decided to forego the weight of camping gear, despite the bitter weather conditions: “We’ll be bivvying every night,” said Stuart
In running the 268 miles along the Pennine Way National Trial, Stuart and David are hoping to raise £5,000 through sponsorship which will be divided between Bath Rugby Foundation – Stuart is the chair of the foundation’s trustees – and Bristol Children’s Hospital, as David’s five-year-old nephew Owain has been treated there having been diagnosed with AMS Leukemia back in January.
David said: “He has had some tough times and whilst he is now just a day patient at the ward, he is hopefully on the way to recovery. He and his family spent a few months in the hospital with the amazing staff and I was lucky enough to visit him a few times to see first hand how the ward looks after so many poorly children.
“I can not speak highly enough of the hospital and the staff who have looked after him and his family through so incredibly tough times.
“Running 270 miles in winter will be tough but it will be nothing compared to what people like Owain have to go through.”
The challenge will certainly be a different experience to the first time Stuart took on the Pennine Way. “I did it walking as an 18 year old,” he said. “Very different to, having just turned 51, running – or at least shuffling and walking – in the snow in January.
“Now it is going to be proper wet weather gear. All the seams have to taped up rather than just stitched – you won’t survive unless they are taped.”
What drives the pair to take on such huge challenges?
“I think it is the achievement,” said Stuart, adding that in the past he has sought the point where “fight or flight” mentality will take him to the point where he can go no further. “I’ve not reached that point yet,” he said.
- If you would like to take on a running challenge on your own why not sign up for the Bath Half Marathon? Bath Rugby Foundation has places available on the start line. Click here for more information.