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Monday, 7 January 2013

TGO Challenge 2003

I’ve been over at Mick & Gayle’s place, looking at the statistics of first timers on the TGO Challenge. Here’s Gayle’s graph, lifted from her post:

First Timers put off

[CLICK GRAPH TO ENLARGE]

Gayle has noticed that a very large percentage (62%) of the first timers in 2003 never came back for a second go at the Challenge; the highest figure in the 33 year history of the event.  I had a look at my pictures from that year (squirreled away on a previously lost part of my hard drive) to see if I could find out why.

Having had a look at the pictures, the memories all came flooding back: I put it down to the pretty dreadful weather in the first three days, heavy rain and wind. This was followed by some pretty nasty stuff a few days later as well. Fortunately the fourth and fifth days weren’t too bad, offering respite before the second onslaught.

Surprisingly few dropped out on the walk that year. However, if you were a first timer, this must have seemed like a pretty daft way of spending your two weeks of valuable holiday; Freezing cold and soaked through. It must have put off those that didn’t come back for a second go.

I walked that year with my son, Oli (who was an incredibly fit 22 year old at the time) and Mick Coady and his partner, Sandra. After all these year, Mick’s immortal words of encouragement to a Sandra left far behind still ring in my ears! “Come on, Sandra!” It can’t have done too much harm to their relationship, as they were married shortly afterwards. (Phew!)

So here are the pictures, in the form of a slideshow. Just click on “View slide show” for a peek.

27 comments:

  1. So, by rights, I shouldn't have come back for a second go, let alone planning to attempt a third, given the slightly grim weather I endured. I'm either tough or off my trolley. I know which I think!!

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    Replies
    1. Statistics: You'll note that even in the awful '03, 38% of Challengers returned for another bash.
      It will be interesting to see the stats in a few years time for 2011 & 2012 first timers. I think you're right though - it could be worse than those for 2003.
      I think you're a right little toughie, myself!
      What does David think? Can you beat him at Arm-wrestling?

      Delete
    2. David thinks he's tough and I'm 'capable'. In truth, I'm stubbornly independant, even when I don't think I can do something!

      Delete
  2. Great set of images Alan.... With all the bad weather that we had in general last year I hope that doesn't put people off anyway, although you challengers our a pretty tough lot...
    Mind you it doesn't seem to have done in the cycling world with the number of new riders about.....

    -Trevor

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The walking world doesn't have too many Cavs or Wigggos to boost its popularity.

      Who do we have? Mr McNeish? Hmmm... Perhaps not in their league!
      :-)

      Mind you, I could be our own version of Lance Armstrong: But I suppose he had more EPO...

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  3. Does this say something about the experience level of some 'first-timers'? Rain, freezing cold and hardship are pretty well the norm for regulars in the Scottish hills. I know loads of people who would be first timers on the Challenge but are as hard as nails!

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    1. Slightly harsh, Gibson, but perhaps fair?
      When it's peeing down with freezing cold rain and you're soaked through for a few days at a time you have to be of a fairly cheerful disposition to want to go through it all again the next year!

      It's the day after day accumulation of the shitty days that gets folk down. If they haven't bumped into too many Challengers for some moral support it can be a bit wearing!

      And to think, they might have turned down an invitation for a trip to the Pyrenees in the warmth with sunshine and lots of vino for a freezing soaking in the Highlands!

      All challengers have to fill in an "list of experience" form if they are first timers, and it's unusual for them to be accepted if they aren't 'au fait' with Scottish conditions. (Well, that certainly used to be the case.)

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    2. Hi Alan

      It wasn't my intention to be 'harsh' or judgemental. I just wondered how many had experienced what you describe in para one, before going on the Challenge.

      I remember a 3 week trip when the only good day was the first then it poured for 20 days solid. It was July but felt like November with midges. You just learn to thole it and hope things will improve. We went to the Lakes the following week and.....it rained!

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    3. And it certainly wasn't my intention to accuse you of that either, old fella! Perhaps I should use more smilies!
      :-)
      Fixed period holidays are a swine, aren't they?

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    4. Nothing wrong with an old "war horse". Each & every wrinkle tells a story.
      :-)

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  4. U haven't aged at all Alan! You looked just as ancient then ;) Thank heavens you spared the tights last year though.

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    1. Ah yes...
      Those Polartec tights were the business! They last came with me in 2007 on my LEJOG. Very natty styling, what what?
      Very "Max Wall"

      I might just well pack them for this year....
      :-)

      I was born looking haggard, you know!

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    2. I prefer something neat fitting rather than walking trousers which flap about and get wet without gaiters. Bring back breeches I say ;slinky Rohan Superstriders were just the job!

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    3. I had a pair of those, in a bright blue. They never quite reached my socks and so I would go home with a thin garter like tan line.
      They were very good though... reinforced seat and knees, stretchy & warm...
      I wonder if anyone will ever make something similar. Or is it being made already? Where's Mr Rayner? He's bound to know.
      :-)

      Delete
  5. From the fantastic images it doesn't look too bad a crossing but i know too well that when it is bad the camera stays well hidden.
    Oli looks pretty laid back about it all anyway.
    Macpacs, buffalo's, ron hills, trangia's, leather boots, things have move on, but i still like them all.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Al
      Yes - the camera stayed firmly hidden in the crappy weather - an early digital job that cost a packet back then that would now almost be given away in terms of quality.

      All the gear worked fine though, and we were probably quite a bit tougher then. Oli was as fit as a flea as was doing an outdoor education course at Edinburgh University. He was like a rock in our team.

      Delete
  6. I remember being quite miserable on the 2003 chally cos me old dog had just died (sniff...) and I broke me tent pole on the first night and I had a really itchy bum by Loch Rannoch. It was warm in Montrose, though.

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    1. I shudder to ask why your bum was warm in Montrose...

      Delete
  7. Love the Max Wall look - I shall think of you like that now! As for all those numbers..........

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Other descriptive terms include "sylph-like" "slender" "slight" ...
      :-)

      Delete
  8. Remember the 2003 crossing - one of my faster ones - from Oban to Tangle'ha in a week. Reached Ben Alder cottage on Sunday night where the only other occupant was Markus Petter from Austria who swore the place was haunted. He'd never heard of the Challenge but I inspired him to enter the following year! Tarfside hadn't opened when I got there so camped some way down the North Esk where a kingfisher entertained me. Don't remember much rain. Maybe it never quite caught me up!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Old Gregorlach! Hellooooooo!
      :-)
      You really should be on this year's walk. Why ever not, Sir?

      Running's not allowed; You know the rules! Interesting that Marcus can blame you for all the blisters and pain over the years.

      Delete
  9. The scariest thing in all of that is that LAMBERT looks younger now.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Miss Whiplash whips him into shape, nightly, apparently.
      Then there's that picture in the loft.
      The moisturisers.
      The healthy living.
      Daily walks.
      Bakes his own bread.
      Vegan sandals.
      Hair shirts.
      Organic wines
      The man is an example to us all.
      Then again... on the Challenge:

      He smokes like a chimney
      Drinks nasty McEwans by the bucket
      Knocks back the hard stuff by the bottle
      Staggers about as drunk as a Lord (Elpus)
      Stubble faced
      Wheezing
      Coughing like hags

      Maybe there's hope for the rest of us clean living souls?

      Delete

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