Outdoor adventure students from Kendal College have won one of the UK’s most challenging adventure races.
The gruelling Scottish Islands Peaks Race comprises of fell running and yachting and usually takes around 48 hours to complete.
This year was the first time Kendal College has entered a youth team, and was the first time a state-funded college or school has competed in the event.
The race starts from Oban in the northwest Highlands and visits the islands of Mull, Jura and Arran. On each island, the teams must complete fell runs of up to 20 miles, with around 3000 feet of ascent.
Four students across the level 3 and HNC outdoor adventure courses were chosen to compete: Grace Culling from Grange over Sands; Xavier Squires from Burneside; Gregor Miller from Broughton in Furness and Lily Gilldaley from Tirril.
The students were selected by HNC lecturer Paul Aitken on their running ability and their ‘ability to suffer’.
The race is notoriously tough; runners often get seasick between runs and struggle to eat, sleep and rest. Going to the toilet is also a challenge when winds are high and the boat is moving quickly.
The Kendal College team joined Peter Foulds, skipper of 40-foot yacht Clockwork. Prior to the race Peter said: “I am pleased to be able to take part in this year’s peaks race with a youth team.
“So far, I’ve competed in this race 27 times, as skipper of four different yachts, starting in 1991. I am now keen to introduce others to the race, so that they might come back to take part again in the future, as sailors, runners or both. I hope this event will be a challenging and enjoyable experience for everyone.”
The final leg of the race was run in the dark by Grace, Xavier, and Paul.
Lecturer Paul Aitken added: “One of my enduring memories of the race is Grace helming the 40’ yacht in the pitch dark for 2 hours whilst waves crashed over her during the windiest spell of the weekend.”.
The four students later wrote thank you letters to Peter and shared their thoughts on the race, Gregor Miller said: “We took away memories to last for a lifetime. Some of my favourite memories would be night sailing, using different parts of the boat and the feeling of coming into the finish, in the position that we did, with such an awesome team.”
Grace Culling said: “An experience of a lifetime! Being on Clockwork has made me realise how much I love sailing and has made me eager to get more experience in yachts. I’m already looking forward to my next adventure and I can’t wait to do this race again in the future!”
Lily Gilldaley said: “It was such an amazing adventure, I’ve got so many memories from the experience – setting off sailing on the Thursday and getting to steer the boat although I was terrified the first time, it was an incredible experience.”
Xavier Squires added: “I was very impressed by Peter’s knowledge and experience, and I don’t think we could have asked for a better skipper. I loved hearing about his experiences working in the Caribbean and adventures around the UK, and came away feeling inspired.”