In just over four weeks those who’ve signed up or are planning to register for the 2018 Cateran Yomp will set off on an exhilarating challenge across Perthshire’s historic Cateran Trail to help raise money for soldiers, veterans and their families.
The annual Yomp (a military term for a long-distance march) takes place on the 8th and 9th of June, and is now in its 8th year. It quite rightly has a reputation as one of the best organised events in Scotland. Walkers can expect to enjoy great food, support and surprises, and experience amazing scenery around Kirkmichael, Glenshee, Glen Isla to Bamff and back to the starting point at Blairgowrie.
It also has a reputation as one of the toughest events – especially for those signing up for Gold - as the 54 mile route of varying terrain needs to completed in under 24 hours!
The endurance needed for an event like the Yomp can’t be gained in a couple of weeks because - let’s face it - 22 miles (Bronze) is a long way, let alone 36 miles (Silver) and 54 miles (Gold).
For those completely new to exercise the advice is to build up the frequency and distance very gradually to keep injury free. Personal trainer, Yolanda Gratton, is responsible for putting together the specialised training plans for the Cateran Yomp.
“Your body needs to learn to cope with the demands of an endurance event," Yolanda explains, "and by doing regular training your body will adapt so when it comes to competing in the Yomp things will be a lot more comfortable and enjoyable.”
Tackling the Long Walk
The training plans recommend using time rather than distance as your goal. If you set out to cover an unrealistic distance, you could jeopardise the quality of your training for the rest of the week.
The fact is that nobody should expect to walk off the street and attempt a 54 mile cross-country Yomp. However, that doesn’t mean that getting fit to take part should be an ordeal. The key to getting ready is to do a little bit of training, as often as you can. So, during the week, that might mean dumping the car or jumping off public transport a stop or two early to walk the last stretch to work on foot.
Consistency is key. Building up several walks during the week is far more important than doing one single session. Keep the pace easy, you want to encourage your body to burn fat and this can only be done when training at a lower intensity. Consistency is key. Building up several walks during the week is far more important than doing one single session.
If you are a complete novice and out of condition, the best thing to do is to start slowly and early if you have a goal in mind. If you were to sign up now, looking to complete the 22-mile bronze course would be a good and realistic achievement. Start with a two-mile walking distance and build it up as you go adding a few miles each week.
Even if all you do is stick diligently to a basic routine, that could result in you having amassed a decent level of fitness. However, you’ll have made great strides forwards if you can combine daily walks with a long walk of 15 miles to 25 miles once a month and a regular 10 mile walk at other times, such as on a weekend.
The more you walk the better it will be and it is amazing how much ground you’ll cover once your mind is actively looking out for opportunities to build some walking time into your day. Whatever your fitness levels, any additional exercise and also variety will help keep you motivated and both cycling and swimming are a good way to add strength.
Another important consideration is preparing to face the elements. Even if you’re a lean, mean gym machine, there's nothing quite like getting out there to prepare yourself for the reality of facing weather that can change in a moment. Always listen to your body. If you are feeling below par, have a cold or you're in pain, you should take a rest – it’s not laziness, it’s injury prevention.
Getting your kit right for the Cateran Yomp
Bearing in mind the Bronze route is almost a marathon distance and crosses some remote terrain, the Yomp event organisers place an emphasis on safety and comfort with the compulsory 'Cateran Yomp Kit List' consisting of the following.
Last year’s Yomp Ambassador and former soldier Lesley Binns, who completed the Yomp in 2018, just a week after attempting to summit Mount Everest, offers some extra advice worth taking on board.
"This is a walking course that comprises woodland paths, heather and hard tarmac roads. The most important thing to think about is the punishment your feet will take.
"Choose footwear you're comfortable with. Some do it in boots and some do it in trainers - I wear a hybrid. No matter what, your feet will get wet! So make sure you bring spare socks, a blister kit and some foot power, and use the medics and sports massages at checkpoints.
"Whether you're at the peak of Everest or in picturesque Perthshire, you need to put on your socks carefully and make sure you don't leave a wrinkle that can into a sore after just a few miles!
"And finally, just remember, you're capabale of a lot more than your body will tell you!"
Standard registration fee is £99 per person (£80 with military/veteran discount). This includes all of your food and drink across the weekend, access to the campsite, goody bag, technical t-shirt, well-deserved medal and much more!
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity provides a lifetime of support to soldiers and veterans from the British Army, and their immediate families, when they are in need.
For further information or to sign up for an adventure of a lifetime, visit the website here.
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