“Running is My Church” – A Cateran Yomp Journey
A Plymouth woman has become the first solo female to win one of Scotland’s toughest endurance challenges.
The 11th Cateran Yomp, which took place on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 June 2022, during The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Weekend, saw 631 soldiers and civilians walk side by side on a 24-hour trek across the beautiful hills and glens of the historic Cateran Trail in Perthshire. Participants travelled from as far as the U.S, Canada, Australia, Cyprus, Poland and the Netherlands.
The event raised over £450,000 for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity. Since 1944, the Army’s National Charity has been providing a lifetime of practical and financial assistance to soldiers, veterans and their families across the UK.
Starting at 6am on Saturday and ending in the early hours of Sunday, the event challenged teams of brave souls to walk 22, 36 or 54 miles in less than 24 hours. They enjoyed favourable weather, with the distraction of live music, magical lit forests and fireworks!
The winner, the first ever female solo winner of The Cateran Yomp, was 50-year-old Bonny Smart from Plymouth, who ran the Gold route in 12 hours and 50 minutes. Part of the five-strong ‘Limping Lunatics’ team, Bonny, a recovering alcoholic, only started running a year ago and sustained several injuries while training.
Bonny said, “I moved to Plymouth eight years ago to go to rehab and, although I’m in recovery, I suffer from pretty debilitating social anxiety. Three months ago, I couldn’t even run alone as the anxiety was overwhelming, I felt like I was being chased.
“I’ve always been sporty and do lots of boxing here in Plymouth, but I’m still fairly new to running. In fact, a year ago to the day, I ran my first ever 5k! Myself and my teammates, two of whom are ex-military, have been training for months with weekly, 6am trips to Dartmoor. For me, it was all about the soldiers, many of whom come back with terrible injuries and mental health problems. They deserve our help and struggle much more than I do.”
So what’s next for Bonny?
“Running is definitely now my ‘thing’. I was out running five miles a few days after the Yomp and plan to run almost daily from now on. Running is my church and exercise has saved me. This has been a massive journey for me and has done so much for me personally. I did a mindfulness course a while back and basically go through that when I’m running. From the minute I open the front door, it’s about appreciating the surroundings and tuning into the sights around me. Boxing is a brilliant workout and I love it but, for my mind, running has helped me overcome the anxiety and, although I’ll always have it, I’ll keep running to manage it.”
Bonny’s team also included former serving soldiers Jason Pepper and Scott Pepper (achieving 11th and 12th place) and Kevin Allerway, who came in 30th place. Mark Palmer, a former soldier injured in combat, completed the Bronze route. To donate, visit https://events.soldierscharity.org/fundraisers/limpinglunitics
Since its launch, the Cateran Yomp has raised over £4M for The Soldiers’ Charity, with donations funding everything from wheelchair ramps for soldiers’ homes to respite care and personal recovery plans for injured soldiers returning from the front line. Last year alone, the charity supported 60,000 people in 63 countries around the world. This year’s event took on extra significance as an official Queen’s Platinum Jubilee event, with the Queen the Patron of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Commander in Chief of the British Army.
Meanwhile, second place Gold medals went to Martin Greenaway (52) from Essex, finishing in 13 hours and eight minutes, with third place going to Alexander Seagar (37) from Sunderland, completing in 13 hours and 30 minutes.
The Famous Grouse sponsored this year’s event, alongside Dover Fueling Solutions, Pure Storage and Arnold Clark Car and Van Rental. The Cateran Yomp also work with a range of local sponsors who donate gifts in kind for the event including Castle Water, Mackie’s of Scotland and Tunnocks.
Setting off the participants was Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Alan Crawford. Alan served with the Scots Guards for 40 years, and completed operational tours of Northern Ireland, the first Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as deploying on OP CORPORATE in the Falkland Islands as Platoon Sergeant of No1 Platoon, Right Flank.
Alan joined 2nd Battalion The Scots Guards in 1971 and had a 40 year career, which saw him complete Regimental tours in Germany, Northern Ireland, Belize and Kenya. He retired from the Army in 2011 and joined ABF The Soldiers’ Charity as Head of Individual Grants the same year. After seven wonderful years with the charity, Alan decided to ‘Step Off’ and join the world of retirement. He settled in Northern Ireland and maintains close links with the Army and charity.
Major General Tim Hyams OBE, Chief Executive of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, added, “ABF The Soldiers’ Charity was absolutely delighted to be back in the Highlands this weekend for the Cateran Yomp, which this year has been one of the official events of the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen, our Patron. So, it was particularly special to come together over the Platinum Jubilee weekend itself to raise considerable funds to support our work to provide a lifetime of support to serving soldiers, former soldiers, and their immediate families when they are in need.
“An immensely tough but also incredibly rewarding event, my heartfelt congratulations and thanks go to every participant. As always though, the event’s success rests on the contribution made by those who supported it so brilliantly. And so my sincere thanks go to the support teams, caterers, event sponsors and individual sponsors.”