A Dozen Everests

Seven Peaks and a weighted vest

Fundraising can often feel like a lonely pursuit to begin with. That was certainly the case for Chris McIntosh, who knew he wanted to do something in memory of his brother, Grant, who had sadly passed away a few years previously. Stumbling upon details of Edinburgh’s 7 Peaks Challenge Chris suddenly had a plan, but it wasn’t until he spoke to a couple of friends that it became the fully-formed challenge he recently completed, in October of 2023.
“I was going to do it on my own and just get on with it,” Chris says, looking back on the origins of his challenge, “however, speaking with a few friends, it seemed more people actually wanted to support and donate and complete the challenge with me.”
A popular fundraising route, the challenge covers around 35km of walking, with the participants climbing the seven hills that surround the city – including the extinct volcano of Arthur’s Seat, Calton and Castle Rock and Edinburgh Castle.
Chris, however, added an extra challenge to his own fundraising effort, deciding to complete the challenge while wearing a weighted vest throughout the day. “I’d been running in a vest for a couple years and just wanted to make the challenge as difficult as possible for myself,” Chris explains. “I wanted to test myself and really push myself mentally and physically.”
Despite the intensity of the task, Chris says he never doubted being able to complete the task, especially with a great bunch of friends both cheering him on and completing the challenge alongside him. The group even had something of a motto to help them out along the way: Always Forward!
“Always forward was a wee mantra I used that one of my friends said to me while we were training for the challenge,” Chris explains. “He actually did the challenge distance in North Carolina at the same time we did it. I also had so many people not only running with me physically but also willing me and the group on that I couldn’t let anyone down.”
Somewhere along the way, Chris chose to donate the funds he raised to Tiny Changes – eventually raising an incredible £7000 between himself and the team. “I wanted to raise money for a local charity and speaking with my friends about mental health and suicide awareness, it led us to Tiny Changes,” Chris says of that decision. “What TC does for young people really resonated with me and it’s also a charity that’s personally close to one of my friends.”
That friend was BLEH, a big Frightened Rabbit fan who completed the challenge alongside Chris, and who did so in the memory of Scott as well as Chris’ brother Grant – something that added an extra layer of emotion at the end of the successfully completed challenge.
While he reflected on the ‘emotional rollercoaster’ of the whole thing, and his son quickly had him thinking about his next challenge, Chris’ brother was also at the forefront of his mind. “I’ve never really spoke about him to folks that much,” Chris says. “I’ve never really wanted to be “that guy” in conversations or push my emotional boundaries that far. I wish I could, but I guess I’m still figuring out how to grieve, six years on. What I will say is that I love him & miss him every day,” Chris continues. “He was my wee brother and I don’t think I’ll ever not miss him.”

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