A Lochaber football coach has run the equivalent of more than 400 Ben Nevis climbs in a bid to raise cash to keep kids in his sport.
Olly Stephen has raised more than £2,000 after pledging to run 5k a day throughout 2020 to help raise vital funds for Fort William Football Club’s under 12/13’s.
Battling freezing temperatures and enduring snow and rain showers, the 35-year-old pounded the pavements of Lochaber covering 1,654 miles (2662km) over the course of the year.
His millage matches the equivalent distance of ascending Ben Nevis more than 400 times and has now raised £2045 in donations through his GoFundMe page.
Mr Stephen, the mill manager for BSW Timber, said at times finding the drive to keep going was the biggest challenge.
He said: “I think the days where I found it the hardest was when I was tired from work. I would try and find a half an hour slot each day and say that’s when I am going to go and do it but some days I would sit down on the sofa and start watching TV and then you think I’m not really in the mood to go and do this.
Let’s see if the power of social media can help push the cash total for the kids up…If you don’t know about this,…
“Once you are out and doing it its fine but it’s that thought of getting up, getting out and going and doing it.
“That was probably the hardest thing, knowing very single day I have got to go and do it. If you plan ahead its fine but its’s those days where you feel more tired it’s not as easy.”
He added: “I think the hardest part on me and on my body was when it became November/December time and it was dark nights. You have to run on the road under the street lights and I did have bad knee pain and lower leg pain.”
Fort William football Club was formed in 1974 before being accepted into the Scottish Highland Football League in 1985 where they have competed ever since.
The club is currently made up of a core team of around 10 coaches with around 115 youngsters embracing the sport.
Annual expenditure for the Highland based club exceeds £10,000, covering fixtures, training and associated costs with running a club.
Due to the pandemic, fundraising opportunities have been off the table this year, creating challenges for the rural club.
The father-of-two, who has coached the under 13’s for the last six years, says the money will be a game changer for them.
He said: “Lots of people give up their time for free to help run the club and train the boys at all levels. There are always financial challenges that the club faces, being so far geographically away from the other teams we play, kit for the boys to train and play in, along with other training equipment and not least the charges for hire of the facilities such as an Astro pitch can really add up.
“We normally do sponsored bag packs and other race nights and stuff to try and raise money but it became apart that with covid we weren’t going to obviously be able to do any of those things and so trying to raise as much as possible was important for me.”
Despite the elements, Mr Stephen was delighted to complete the challenge as planned on Hogmanay.
He thanked the community for their support.
The 35-year-old said: “This has most certainly been a labour of love, with my family helping out frequently.
“Sport is something that I have always taken a particular interest in. I think that it’s really important, especially in seeing the health benefits for people from going out and taking part in sport. I have seen the difference myself over the last year.
“I couldn’t believe the support from the local community. There was lots of people who don’t have anything to do with it and were donating quite a lot of money which was good.
“For people to give that much is massive. It’s brilliant.”