How many Cairngorms summits can you conquer in one day? Alexander Chepelin can answer that question better than anyone else as the Aberdeen athlete has just set a new standard for this epic mountain challenge.
The stats are impressive: in a single 24-hour period Chepelin ran to the top of 32 Munros, covering 95 miles and climbing 25,439ft over some technically testing terrain, some of it navigated in darkness.
Not surprisingly, this is a record. The previous best of 30 Munros, set by Jim Mann in 2017, is also impressive.
Chepelin, a Great Britain orienteering international and one of Scotland’s most accomplished hill runners, was exhausted but exhilarated at having achieved his goal.
He said: “It feels really good to have done it, especially after all the planning that went on and all the support I had.
“It was a truly memorable moment. There was one disappointment – my Carnethy clubmate, Ali Masson, who intended running with me, had to pull out with six hours to go after sustaining a hamstring injury.
“We intended doing the whole thing together and Ali put so much time and effort into planning the route and the logistics. He’s not the sort of guy to pull out of anything unless he was in real pain, so I felt for him.
“But we’d agreed beforehand, that if anything happened to either of us, the other would keep going and try for the record.”
Chepelin admits had it not been for Masson’s positive influence, he may not even have started the big run.
He said: “I honestly only slept for about 30 minutes the night before. It was just like the lead up to a big race. I was a bit stressed.
“So, in the morning I wasn’t feeling great and couldn’t see how I could possibly manage the run by going another 24 hours without sleep. But Ali convinced me it would be fine and I also knew I had to do it for him and all the people who were supporting us.
“As it turned out, it was a bit strange as I didn’t feel good at all for the first couple of hours. I thought the best I could do would be to help Ali for the first few stages before stopping. But, the longer it went on the better I got even though we had 11 Munros in the final five hours.
“We started and finished at Invercauld Bridge near Braemar. The run was split into five sections and for each part we had at least two support runners who carried our maps,food, drinks and extra clothing. That made such a big difference, not having to carry anything. They really kept us going.”
Among the tops covered were Beinn a’ Bhùird,Beinn Mheadhoin, Ben Macdui, Devil’s Point, Sgor an Lochain-Uaine, Glas Tulaichean, Glas Maol then Lochnagar before a final stretch through the forest trails at Balmoral.
Chepelin said: “Lochnagar holds a special place in my heart, being my first Munro. It holds fond memories of climbing with my family. Having my older brother, Oleg, there to help guide me to the finish was very appropriate.
“I was gutted for Ali, though, as he deserved it more than anyone. He’ll no doubt be back.”