Athletics: Alexander Chepelin’s Amazing Cairngorms Achievement Shows Munro Baggers How Many Summits You Can Conquer In One Day
How many peaks of the Cairngorms can you conquer in one day? Alexander Chepelin can answer this question better than anyone because the athlete from Aberdeen has just set a new standard for this epic mountain challenge.
The stats are impressive: in a single 24-hour span, Chepelin raced on top of 32 Munros, covering 95 miles and climbing 25,439 feet over technically testing terrain, some of them cruising in the dark.
Unsurprisingly, this is a record. The previous Best of 30 Munros, set by Jim Mann in 2017, is also impressive.
Chepelin, a British-orientated international and one of Scotland’s most accomplished hill climbers, was exhausted but excited to have achieved his goal.
He said: “It’s really good to have done it, especially after all the planning that has gone on and all the support that I have had.
“It was a truly memorable moment. There was a disappointment – my Carnethy teammate Ali Masson, who had intended to run with me, had to retire with six hours to go after suffering a hamstring injury.
“We intended to do everything together and Ali put a lot of time and effort into planning the route and logistics. He’s not the type of guy to pull back from anything unless he’s really in pain, so I felt for him.
“But we had agreed in advance that if anything happened to one of us, the other would go on and try to make the record.”
Chepelin admits that without Masson’s positive influence, he may not even have started the big race.
He said, “Honestly, I only slept about 30 minutes the night before. It was like preparing for a great race. I was a little stressed.
“So in the morning I didn’t feel good and I couldn’t see how I could handle the race by going another 24 hours without sleep. But Ali convinced me that everything would be fine and I also knew that I had to do it for him and all the people who supported us.
“It was actually a bit strange because I didn’t feel well at all for the first few hours. I figured the best I could do would be to help Ali with the first few steps before I quit. But, the longer it lasted, the better I felt even though we had 11 Munros in the last five hours.
“We started and ended at Invercauld Bridge near Braemar. The race was divided into five sections and for each part we had at least two support runners carrying our cards, food, drinks and extra clothing. It made such a big difference, not having to carry anything. They really kept us going.
Among the peaks 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 of Balmoral.
Chepelin said: “Lochnagar holds a special place in my heart, being my first Munro. He has fond memories of climbing with my family. Having my older brother, Oleg, there to help me until the finish was very fitting.
“I was gutted for Ali, however, because he deserved it more than anyone. He will definitely come back.