HUNDREDS of people have signed up for a new fundraising event which organisers hope will be Edinburgh’s answer to the Caledonian Challenge.
The Great Pentlands Push aims to raise funds to help rebuild St Columba’s Hospice, a charity which supports those suffering long-term and terminal diseases.
So far, around 300 people have signed up to take part in the September 22 event, but organisers hope to attract 500 walkers to the Pentland Hills.
A spokeswoman for the hospice said: “This is a new event for 2012 and for the hospice. The purpose of the event is to raise money for a rebuild of St Columba’s Hospice. The aspiration was to create an event like the Caledonian Challenge that was on Edinburgh’s doorstep.”
The Caledonian Challenge takes place over a 54-mile route in the Highlands, though a shorter 26-mile course is available.
The Great Pentlands Push has three main routes – 25, 18 and 13 miles, respectively – as well as a shorter five-mile, family-friendly “Nudge” route.
One group taking part in the event is Ruthie’s Randoneusses – French for ramblers – who are walking to remember their friend, Ruth Tainton.
Ruth died from non- Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year at the age of 53. She had been treated as a day patient at St Columba’s Hospice and stayed overnight on several occasions.
Close friend Clare Graham, 46, from Stockbridge will walk with six other friends in memory of Ruth.
Clare said: “The whole group of us used to walk together ever since we did the Moonwalk in 2006. Ruth loved the Pentlands so much, so the Pentlands Push seemed to tick all of the boxes.
“Ruth was in and out of the hospice for the last month or two and spent a few nights there when it got quite tough. Sadly, we have other friends who use the hospice so it’s for them too.
“When Ruth was in the hospice, she was always telling us to get out walking. We’ve been looking for a new challenge and this came at just the right time. I think Ruth would approve.”
Lesley Christie, director of fundraising for St Columba’s Hospice said: “Not only is the Great Pentlands Push a huge physical challenge, but it will raise vital funds to help us build a brand new home for St Columba’s Hospice and enable us to provide the best care for generations to come.”
Paul Collins, head of trading for lead event sponsors Franklin Templeton, planned to join 76 colleagues on the trek. Paul, who also heads up the company’s Edinburgh office, said he wanted to help a good cause.
He said: “The personal motivation was to do something for a local charity and help out what is a fantastic cause. From a business perspective it brings everyone [in the company] together behind a worthy cause and promotes team spirit.
“I’m hoping to try the Gold course, it depends if my 42-year-old legs can manage. I just want to get round and enjoy the day.”