Edinburgh firefighter smashes epic cross country charity challenge

Les Mason and wife Alana from Livingstone  Picture: Alex Hewitt
Les Mason and wife Alana from Livingstone Picture: Alex Hewitt
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A CAPITAL firefighter has become the first man to complete an epic straight line route spanning the width of the country as part of a mammoth fundraising effort for a charity working to support families who have suffered miscarriages or stillbirths.

Les Mason ran, swam, cycled and kayaked his way from Angus to Argyll in less than 24 hours, covering the equivalent elevation to around half of Mount Everest in the process.

The 38-year-old battled through the elements from his start point in Montrose, including a torrential downpour while biking through Perthshire, to reach Ballachulish near Loch Leven in a time of 23 hours and 27 minutes as he aimed to raise money for the Tommy’s research centre.

The charity works to reduce the number of premature births, while also offering a vital support service for those who have lost children through miscarriage.

Les and partner Alana, 33, suffered four miscarriages after undergoing IVF treatment.

And Sighthill watch manager Les said the 125-mile challenge was as much a test of mental fortitude as physical prowess.

He told the Evening News: “I’ve always been an outdoors person and always liked that idea of going up against Mother Nature, but obviously this has become more personal for me.”

“I’m going up against those obstacles and getting through them, the same way we were getting through each day after we have got through each miscarriage.”

He added: “I want to be someone who inspires people to overcome the odds.”

Les lined up on the start line in Montrose at around 7pm on Wednesday, May 1, reaching Ballachulish at around 6:30pm the next day, despite a few hairy moments en route.

Alana was there to greet him at the finish line, while several friends lined the course at specially-designated checkpoints to allow him to rest for 15-minute intervals.

He said: “When we started off the cycle, the weather was absolutely glorious, but as we climbed out of Perthshire, it was like the heavens opened – I ended up having to change clothing three times.”

“Coming over the Aonach Eagach ridge, it is one of the narrowest in the UK and the underfoot conditions became quite slippy. It is at moments like those where you start to have a little feeling of doubt.

“But we had friends at every stopping point and that really gave me the motivation to keep going. When we were at our lowest moments, we had friends around to support us, it was exactly the same here.”

He added: “I really could not have done this without their support.”

Les, who previously trekked across the Arctic Circle for the charity, aimed to raise £5,000 and hopes keeping his crowdfunding page open until the end of the month will help him find the £700 needed to hit his goal.

Les said: “I had such grand plans for the finish line, I was going to jump in the ocean to cool off.

“But you get there and everything just seemed to go, it was hard not to get emotional, I just felt completely done.”

Les continued: “In the end, I think the fact that I got over the finish line is enough of a victory for me.”