Four of us from Morton Fraser were evidently gullible enough to sign up straight away (although I am told James Rust strictly signed up as a member of the support team and not a hiker).
So after months of walking, preparing our feet, raising money and general last minute worries that we really hadn't done enough, on 13 June 2014, James Rust, Caroline Docherty, Marcus Whyte, Erika Sablinskaite and I from Morton Fraser along with Mark Harper and David Meldrum from Wylie & Bisset LLP packed up our bags and headed north with our incredible support crew - Neil Wood and former Morton Fraser partner, Hugh Henderson - to take on the Caledonian Challenge.
After a compulsory stop off at the Green Welly, we arrived at a cosy caravan park outside Fort William where we enjoyed a cool beer, carb-loaded dinner and an early night. The next day the challenge began at 7am and we walked almost solidly for the next 22 hours 57 minutes.
Through sheer determination and support from the team and our support crew, all seven of us made it across the finish line within 12 minutes of each other, just before 6 am on the Sunday morning. There are no major injuries to report, and at least two of us had no blisters whatsoever, which seems a miracle in itself. After 24 hours sleep, we were back on our feet and ready to take on the next challenge - walking from the bus/train to work.
The whole experience has been an incredible one. It gave work colleagues from two different firms a chance to get to know each other both personally and professionally which we wouldn't otherwise have had. There has been plenty of laughter (trying to work out how the midge hats worked!), pain and horror (who put that hill there?!?). The challenge tested not just your physical endurance but your mental endurance also. In the middle of the night, when your colleague's midge hat fails and they have a swarm of midges stuck inside the hat, swarming around their face, both theirs and your resolve will be tested when they shout for help. You will need to pluck up the courage to run back and stand there trying to help them whilst watching the midges covering every millimetre of your flesh and clothing. Of course, the favour was soon returned when my head torch began to die.
So how much did we raise? We were set a minimum target of raising £2,100 and with the generosity of friends, family, clients and everyone at Morton Fraser and Wylie & Bisset we have raised an amazing £3,343.
Finally, of course, the big question, would you do it again? No. Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely, although we did not look at all happy at the end, and in fact we wanted nothing more than our beds, everyone will attest that the challenge was the walk of a lifetime and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
What's next on the agenda? I hear talk of a charity bike ride between our Glasgow and Edinburgh offices. I think I will sit that one out and instead enjoy a nice cold drink with the rest of the team to celebrate our success.