Sporting icons to take part in FirstGroup’s Monster Challenge


Two of the UK’s most celebrated sporting icons, Sally Gunnell and Gavin Hastings, were yesterday confirmed as the famous faces taking part in transport giant FirstGroup’s First Monster Challenge, a 120km team relay duathlon around Loch Ness, on 03 September.

The sporting duo were Monster spotting on board the Tall Ship on the Clyde today to mark the launch of the 2011 event.

Olympic Gold Medal 400m hurdler, Sally Gunnell, took on the Monster in 2010 and is back for a second year while retired Scotland rugby international, Gavin Hastings, is a Monster veteran having taken on the grueling running and cycling event in each of the last three years.

Sally Gunnell said: “I’m looking forward to the event on 03 September. I’ve been training hard, especially on the bike, so hopefully I won’t let my team mates down.

“The main aim of the event is to raise money for good causes and in particular First’s charity partner, Save the Children. More than £188,000 was raised in 2010 – I hope we can beat that total.”

The former 400m hurdle world record holder confirmed that she has assembled her own crack team, including husband Jon Bigg – himself a former professional runner – and is aiming for a top ten finish.

Gavin Hastings said: “I will take on the Monster for the fourth time on 03 September and, as always, my aim is to get round in one piece.

“For an event of this nature to sell out year on year demonstrates just how enjoyable it is – the team spirit, the views, the organisation and the course itself are first class. It has become one of the highlights of my year.”

Event organisers FirstGroup, the UK’s largest bus and rail operator, confirmed today that the event has already sold out.

Around 1,000 competitors have signed up in teams of four to run and cycle around the shores of Loch Ness. However, First has released extra places, available here.

FirstGroup’s Marketing Manager, Avril Gill, said: “Once again the event has sold out in record time.

“The First Monster Challenge has grown remarkably since our inaugural event in 2007 and we are thrilled with its success.

“I’m delighted that Gavin Hastings is again part of the event – he is immensely popular with the competitors.

“It’s also fantastic to have Olympic, World and Commonwealth Gold Medal winner Sally Gunnell join us for the second time. Monster 2011 promises to be another great event.”

FirstGroup is also catering for the UK’s fittest athletes. The ‘First Iron Monster Challenge’ which sees competitors attempt the entire 120km course (40km running and 80km cycling) solo, is also a sell out.

The First Monster Challenge, which has been officially accredited by the British Triathlon Foundation, consists of teams of four.

Each competitor is required to complete two legs of the eight-legged event – one 10km run and one 20km cycle.



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