Ultra-runner sets new Munros record after completing charity challenge

Ultra-runner sets new Munros record after completing charity challenge
Ultra-runner Jamie Aarons, 43, celebrating with supporters at the end of the trek (Andy Stark/Stark Images via Nic Crossley)
PA Media - Andy Stark/Stark Images

A woman has set a new record for scaling all of Scotland’s Munros – with her efforts raising money for charity.

Ultra-runner Jamie Aarons, 43, finished in 31 days 10 hours and 27 minutes, smashing the previous record for a self-propelled challenge by more than 12 hours.

This saw Ms Aarons – who is originally from California but moved to Scotland in 2005 – run, cycle or kayak between each of the Munros, Scottish mountains with a height of more than 3,000 feet.

Starting at Ben More on the Isle of Mull on May 26, Ms Aarons – who works as a social work adviser for the Scottish Government – covered a momentous 2576.52 kilometres.

Over the course of the challenge she ascended 135,366 metres – the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 16 times, as she travelled around 1,315 kilometres on foot, 830 kilometres by road bike, 370 kilometres on a mountain bike and 49km on her gravel bike, as well as 11.6 kilometres by kayak.

The endurance athlete celebrated with supporters at the end of the trek – known as Jamie’s Munro Challenge (Andy Stark/Stark Images via Nic Crossley)

Sleeping an average of just four hours a day throughout the challenge, she managed to complete 14 Munros within 24 hours on Wednesday June 7.

The record had previously been held by former marine Donnie Campbell, from Skye, who completed a similar challenge in 31 days, 23 hours and two minutes in 2020.

Ms Aarons was inspired to do her own challenge after learning of his record, saying it planted a “a seed in my brain as we were emerging from Covid restrictions”.

But having read that Mr Campbell slept for eight hours a night, she realised she might be able to beat his record.

135,366 metres

Metres ascended by Jamie Aarons as she completed her Munro challenge, climbing all 282 Munros is just over 31 days

She climbed her final Munro, Ben Klibreck, in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands, at 4.57pm on Monday.

As well as setting a new record, she completed the challenge in less than half the previous fastest time for a woman, which had been set jointly by Libby Kerr and Lisa Trollope in 2017, with the pair taking 76 days and 10 hours.

Speaking at the start, she said: “My journey will take me across the length and breadth of Scotland, across sea and lochs, from remote glens to the highest point in the United Kingdom; and across more miles of bog than I care to think about.”

It is the third time the endurance athlete has climbed all of Scotland’s Munros, with Ms Aarons first doing them in 2013 with partner Andy Taylor.

The couple then did all 282 peaks again a few years later, this time taking the rescue dogs they adopted from Spain, Pirate and Hope – who she has dubbed the Fluffs.

This time round Mr Taylor drove the van, donated by ACL Hire, that was used as a support vehicle on the route, providing a bed, kitchen and office facilities, as well as towing the bikes she used along the way.

She was supported by a team of 117 volunteers, who brought food, clothing, running shoes, bikes and overnight camping equipment to her along the way.

Ms Aarons said it had been a “team effort”, though she added: “I may be the most sleep-deprived and midge-bitten amongst us.”

As well as breaking the record for a self-propelled Munro challenge, she has also raised cash for World Bicycle Relief.

The charity provides bikes to children in poorer nations, allowing them to ride to school as well as helping them get to health clinics and markets.

Ms Aarons said raising money would help to “motivate me through the tough miles”, with the athlete having raised £14,000 for the charity – more than double her initial target of £6,000.

She now hopes to go on and raise £30,000 for the good cause.

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