Alex Moran on the Inaccessible Pinnacle on the Cuillin. Photo: Hamish Frost

Alex Moran on the Inaccessible Pinnacle on the Cuillin. Photo: Hamish Frost

Two teachers have completed a gruelling non-stop Hebridean triathlon to raise funds for young people venturing into the outdoors.

Alex Moran and Mike Coppock completed their Island Munros Triathlon on Sunday, after scaling 13 munros and swimming and cycling between them.

The pair, who were childhood friends, finished the challenge on Sunday, after ascending 6,461m and covering 309km travelling between the mountains. They also swam the 3km across the Sound of Mull between Lochaline and the Isle of Mull.

The two adventurers tackled the triathlon in memory of Alex’s mountaineer father Martin, who was killed in an avalanche while leading a Himalayan expedition in 2019. The Martin Moran Foundation was set up to honour his life and climbing accolades, and to further his belief that the joy of mountaineering should be an experience open to everyone – no matter where they come from.

The pair believe it is the first time anyone has undertaken a single non-stop Island Munros Triathlon. They completed the challenge in 32hrs 22mins.

They started at 10am on Saturday at the foot of the Greater Cuillin Traverse, considered by many to be the UK’s finest and most difficult mountaineering challenge. This first leg covered 12 munros and required running, scrambling and sections of climbing with extreme exposure in unfavourable weather conditions.

The pair come ashore on Mull. Photo: Hazel Moran

The pair come ashore on Mull. Photo: Hazel Moran

After the 33km and 3,323m of ascent, the pair were straight onto their bikes to begin the 244km cycle through the night to reach the coastal village of Lochaline.

The athletes had very little time to rest and refuel as wetsuits were pulled on within minutes to catch the slack tide. They plunged into the cold, deep waters of the Sound of Mull at midday on Sunday to complete the 3km swim over to the Isle of Mull. The strong tides and busy shipping route made for a hazardous crossing as sleep deprivation set in.

Once the men made landfall, they were back in the saddles for a further 24km cycle to the base of the last mountain climb. With a final 960m climb on tired legs, their journey culminated on the summit of the final munro, Ben More, 32 hours and 22 minutes after their start on the Isle of Skye.

Alex Moran said: “It was a euphoric feeling to reach the final summit on Ben More.

“Like all endurance events, there were some extreme highs and extreme lows, especially on the overnight cycle, but with the support of each other, the crew and the generous donations made to the Martin Moran Foundation, I was motivated and inspired to push through to the finish.”

The athletes were supported by family and friends who dropped food in precarious locations, drove the distance and stayed awake for the full 32-hour epic. Both athletes fuel their training on a vegan diet and said their nutrition was an integral part of this challenge and was carefully planned out for the short 15-minute pit stops made every two to three hours.

The Cuillin traverse was completed in poor weather conditions. Photo: Hamish Frost

The Cuillin traverse was completed in poor weather conditions. Photo: Hamish Frost

Mike Coppock said: “With the extremely wet conditions on the Cuillin ridge and two hours over schedule, it seemed like the chance to swim the Sound of Mull safely, based on the tides, was slipping away. If it wasn’t for the support and motivation from all the crew, it wouldn’t have been possible. It was a real team effort!”

Organisers said no other mountain triathlon with as many metres of elevation, technical climbing difficulty, summits and distance in one non-stop effort is known to have been recorded. They added the Island Munros Triathlon is being hailed as one of the toughest in the UK.

The triathlon was sponsored by outdoors brand Mountain Equipment and South Skye Cycles, a bike rental and repair shop based in Broadford on the Isle of Skye.

The athletes hope to raise £10,000 for the Martin Moran Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to promoting the positive impact of mountain adventure on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, and provides all-expenses-paid training programmes for 16- to 18-year-olds across the UK who are passionate about the outdoors.