Published: 10/11/2017 10:03 - Updated: 10/11/2017 10:07

From Badenoch to Bergen to boost our heroes

Written byTom Ramage

 

Wendy's off to Norway

 

Wendy Sylvester’s got incredible legs.

But that’s nothing to what they’re going to be next year.

She told the Strathy this week: "Over the last 20 years my legs have taken me on some incredible runs and adventures of varying distance and terrain all over the world. Now they’re going to have to get me round Norway’s famous Bergen Marathon.

"To many this would be an easy feat, but it may as well be 1000 miles as far as my poor old knees."

There are no doubts though, and there will be no backing out, since she confesses the cause is too just.

Speaking from her home at Insh, she said: "Those who are closest to me know how passionate I am about our Armed Forces, past and present.

"Their courage and the importance of the sacrifices they have made should never be taken for granted."

As another Remembrance Day approached this weekend, she confessed: "It saddens me that a quarter of all our homeless in the UK are ex-servicemen.

"Even more so that the necessary support for those suffering both the mental and physical scars of combat does not reach those who need our help the most."

She had been so, so humbled by the many brave ex-servicemen and women who inspired her over the last decade that she spent three years as a combat medic reservist.

Inspired, she joined up with the 7 Scots, C Company in Inverness. It had clearly been one of her many good moves over a varied career.

"I absolutely loved my time there, learning a range of skills you seldom get an opportunity to acquire in civilian life. It’s amazing, being pushed to the edge of your mental and physical capabilities," she said.

"For instance, I was one of only three women out of 270 men in the Battalion."

An Aberdonian by birth, Wendy has clearly seen the globe as home – at least, until discovering Badenoch, where she has settled, having made many friends in her various roles in the district.

She was former manageress at Loch Insh Sailing School, where she played a pivotal role in the period following the untimely death of founder Clive Freshwater.

Wendy is now assistant manager at the holiday and workshop base the Dell of Abernethy.

"I very much consider the strath as my home," she said, "but I am still happy to travel.

"When I began training for a marathon with the vague idea that I would run the Bergen course, I had little idea of the interest it would attract.

"For me, the road to Bergen will be the combination of shorter runs alongside the veterans who I have come to know over the years, punctuated by longer solo runs through my stunning Highlands.

"This is not just a personal training regime or fitness goal, it is a journey of gratitude, hopefulness and recognition."

And, we hasten to add, a journey which will no doubt widen her circle of friends still further.

"Everyone is welcome to join me in some shape or form – by donating to my fundraising page, by joining me on any length of run or by just providing support along the way."

Already she has been joined in her crusade by former army officer John Blamire. He too is in training now for the great Fjordkraft Bergen City Marathon (FBCM), which will be held on Saturday, April 28, next year.

This is the seventh year that the FCBM will be held, those who have already tamed it describing the course as "a fantastic run with a beautiful and inspiring course".

Thousands of runners have already experienced the atmosphere at the start and finish lines at Bryggen in Bergen, jogging through Gamle Bergen (Old Bergen) to savour the breathtaking view from Fjellveien.

The course also continues along the beautiful walkway around Store Lungegårdsvann, with the competitors met by buzzing crowds as they run through Nygårdsparken, with its narrow streets and charming wooden houses at Nordnes leading them on to Nordnesparken.

"I can’t wait," said Wendy – although her knees made no comment!

Saturday sees the launch of Wendy’s fundraising page for Poppy Scotland, which all being well will get her to Norway on time to raise money for ex-servicemen.

Anyone wanting to help her in that can donate via: #poppyscotland #bergenmarathon #roadtobergen or google JustGiving and follow the links to her page. JustGiving sends donations straight to poppyscotland

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