Two fundraisers have smashed their target of navigating the North Coast 500 route by bicycle in less than 40 hours.
Ewan MacDonald and Gavin Johnston left Inverness on Wednesday with the aim of completing the 516-mile route in under their targeted time and arrived back in the Highland capital at 5.30am yesterday morning.
The duo embarked on the challenge, which pushed them to the limit, after deciding that they wanted to tackle a charity cycle to aid a children’s charity.
Taking it in turns of three-hour shifts, Mr MacDonald and Mr Johnston navigated the route through much of the north in an astonishing 35 hours and 30 minutes – an impressive four-and-a-half hours ahead of schedule.
The cyclists, who have undertaken the challenge in aid of the Archie Foundation, set an initial fundraising target of £10,000 and yesterday afternoon were sitting at just shy of 70% of their desired goal.
Mr MacDonald said: “We were aware of the sort of average speed we would have to maintain, and I did think we could possibly do it a bit quicker, but we never imagined we would do it in 35 hours and 30 minutes.
“When we got underway, we made it to John O’Groats quite quickly, but from there down through the night, it was pretty tough going with the weather and the terrain.
“We are absolutely over the moon. It is a great achievement for both of us and more importantly, it is fantastic for the charity.
“We really pulled together and we couldn’t have done it without our support team of my brother, Ross MacDonald and Eric Innes. They were great in having the bikes ready to go, and my wife and Fitnessat58° from Aviemore kept us well fuelled.
“The Archie Foundation is a fantastic organisation that does a great job for sick wee ones, but also for their families in providing support.
“So many people benefit from their service and we were delighted with the support shown before, during and now after the challenge.
“It’s huge to think how much this will support them and we just hope to reach the £10,000 mark which would really make a big, big difference.”
Dawn Cowie, Highland fundraiser for The Archie Foundation, said: “We can’t thank Gavin and Ewan enough for an extraordinary fundraiser.
“To complete the North Coast 500 is a fantastic effort – but to have smashed the route in well under their target of 40 hours is just phenomenal.”
Donations can still be made through the JustGiving page set up for the mammoth challenge.