Former Olympic gold medal winner and world record holder, Sally Gunnell, joined Scottish rugby legend Gavin Hastings on Saturday in tackling one of Britain's most famous duathlons, the First Monster Challenge. The event, which is based around the shores of Loch Ness, saw Gunnell and Hastings join a 1,000 strong field of competitors.
The duathlon, which consists of a 120km relay for teams of four, saw both stars complete the circuit in highly respectable times. 'Team Gunnell,' which featured the former 400m champion's husband, finished an impressive 23rd out of almost 230 teams with a time of 7 hours and 6 mins.
Speaking after what is her second Monster Challenge, Gunnell said, "I really enjoyed myself out there. The course is very tough, but great fun and the camaraderie between the teams is fantastic." After the previous year's standing of 40th, Gunnell was clearly delighted with her team's improvement, commenting, "All the hard training during the summer has paid off."
Gavin Hastings' team, meanwhile, finished in 55th place, with the former Scottish internationalist taking part in the event for the fourth time. He said, "The weather was mixed but the competitors and I, as ever, thoroughly enjoyed the event. I've taken part in every Monster since 2008 - it makes for a fabulous weekend."
Winning the team relay with some 35 minutes to spare were Inverness based 'Blazing Saddles.' Harley Davidson, 26, of Inverness Harriers triumphed in the Iron Monster, an event that sees competitors tackle the entire 120km solo, the equivalent of running a marathon and cycling a further two on what is a mountainous terrain.
With such an impressive turnout for this year's Monster Challenge, organisers are confident that they can surpass the £188,000 raised for their charity partner, Save the Children, at the 2010 event.