Four charity runners overcame their exhaustion and aching limbs to crash into the North Sea in celebration as they finished an astonishing 90-mile challenge.
Banchory PE teacher Scott Birse and three pals took on the daunting prospect of jogging from the source of the River Dee in the Cairngorms to where it eventually flows into the sea in Aberdeen.
The mammoth effort got under way on Friday night – with a seven-mile hill walk to reach their starting point atop the third-highest mountain in the British isles, Braeriach.
It was about 8pm that the men set off, and they finally made it to the seaside at Fittie just before 4pm on Saturday.
Jubilant, they pushed their pain aside as they hugged in the tide to celebrate the achievement.
‘I needed a walking stick to get about on Sunday’
Today, Scott told us that the run was so physically taxing that he needed a walking stick to gingerly make his way about his home on Sunday.
That comes as no surprise, after hearing the father-of-two describe the incredible journey he, Peter Torrance, Barry Chalmers and Daniel Christie undertook.
Scott said: “The hike to the top before we set off was quite relaxing, we were led along the seven miles by an experienced walker.
“The hardest part was coming off Braeriach, there were these big boulders which made it difficult.
“Our legs took a pounding coming down that hill.”
Already feeling the effects, doubts began creeping in as darkness fell.
Scott, 38, added: “When it got dark, that’s when the mental battle started of thinking ‘crikey are we actually going to achieve this?’
“It was tough going.
“But we kept going, making our way through Balmoral and it began getting light as we reached Ballater.
“That gave us a wee boost, and we were joined by a few more folk as we made our way to Aboyne.”
Heroes welcome in Banchory
The team got a much-needed burst of adrenaline when they arrived in Banchory to find that about 100 people had turned out to wish them well.
“It was unbelievable”, Scott said.
“It made us all quite emotional.
“Our legs were in bits by then, but when more people joined us to run or cycle alongside then the time just passed very quickly.
“All the people that were with us made a huge difference, it was amazing to see so many people who I never thought would join us.
“There were guys who had never run eight miles in their life, who decided to do it alongside us.
“The key thing was community spirit – that got us through.”
‘Strength of their friendship was clear’
The temperature wasn’t the only thing soaring by the time the lads reached Aberdeen in the late afternoon.
The skirl of bagpipes greeted them along with a crowd of supporters as they finally cooled off with a dip in the sea.
So far the challenge has raised a towering £16,000.
The cash will be split between north-east children’s charity Charlie House and providing improved sports facilities in Banchory.
Donna Deans, senior fundraising co-ordinator for Charlie House, was there at Fittie when the lads splashed into the waves.
She said: “We are always amazed at the lengths people go to to show their support for Charlie House but the Source to Sea team have left us speechless.
“Cheering the team in at the end point at Fittie was a really special moment.
“Despite the gruelling run and the rising heat, the guys were elated and the strength of their dedication and their friendship was so clear.
“We are beyond grateful to them.”