This summer, passionate paddleboarder Darren Botes from Exeter, Devon is setting himself a Scottish SUP challenge ‘#standupfor22q’. Leaving today and inspired by his son Hayden, Darren will be taking on the 60 mile (100km) Great Glen Monster Challenge on a stand up paddleboard.
The route covers the width of Scotland, and runs from Fort William on the West Coast, to Inverness on the East Coast. The paddle will take him across the Caledonian Canal, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and the mighty Loch Ness. His aim is to do this distance in 2 days with a paddling time of about 10 hours per day – depending on which way the wind is blowing!
Darren has set himself this challenge to create awareness of a genetic condition called 22q11 deletion syndrome which his 7 year old son Hayden was diagnosed with when he was just a few months old. He would also love to be able to raise some money for a number of charities including Max Appeal that support families living with 22q11 deletion syndrome. Darren wants to ensure that these kids and young adults get the support, love and care they require to be able to thrive in their schools and communities, allowing them to live happy and fulfilled lives. This challenge is for all of them!
Darren’s son Hayden and wife Toni will be in Scotland cheering him on. So make sure you do too if you see him out paddling over the next few days!
About 22q11 deletion syndrome – As the name indicates, the syndrome is the result of a tiny piece of missing genetic code from the 22nd chromosome. It can present with a number of different conditions, but some of the more common problems are congenital heart conditions, cleft palate and immunity issues. There are a range of other potential complications including things like digestive problems, scoliosis, and low muscle tone. Development delays and speech problems are prevalent as well.
“We don’t know what the future will hold, but what I do know today is that he is my best friend, my hero and my inspiration.” – Darren
SUPboarder caught up with Darren before he left to find out a bit more about his challenge…
Hi Darren. Why did you decide to set yourself this particular challenge?
I’d always wanted to do something challenging on a stand up paddle board. I’ve been paddling for some time and love everything about the sport, but when Chris Bertish, crossed the Atlantic on a stand up paddle board earlier in the year I was even more inspired to do something. I was nowhere near ready for open ocean, so I searched the UK for a stretch of water that would prove tough in terms of distance. I was struggling to find something, when I saw this straight blue line across Scotland while staring at google maps one evening. I knew instantly that this was my challenge.
Will you be paddling on your own? And what kit will you be taking with you?
I am doing it unsupported and carrying my own gear. I’ll be carrying my own food and water, but may stop and grab a sandwich from a pub along the way! I’ve got high energy snacks/bars, nuts, high protein foods. The lighter the food the better. I’ve got a camelback for water, with a few extra bottles as well. I’m staying at a lodge in Fort Augustus in between the days, so I’m not taking any camping gear. I will therefore still enjoy the luxuries of a fairly normal night! Most of my kit will be food to get me through each of the days. In addition I’ve got things like: an extra phone, buoyancy aid, 2 waterproof bags, first aid kit, head torch just in case, booties, gloves, action camera etc…
What board will you be using?
I’ve got a Fatstick board. It’s a local brand based in Bournemouth. It’s a good solid board that can pick up some decent speed on a downwind!
What do you envisage being the biggest challenge?
What is the furthest you have previously paddled and how have you been training?
I’ve probably done a good 25 to 30 miles in a day. This was on canals and rivers similar to the challenge, so I am well aware of the distance to cover. I didn’t however have to do it the next day again, so before my body even realises what has happened after the first day I’ll put myself back on the water and just keep going! With a family and full time job, finding time on the board is always difficult. I have been paddling but have been spending a huge amount of time in the gym. Treadmill, rowing machine and weights have been my routine for the last 6 months.
You can follow Darren’s progress via his Facebook page – Stand Up for 22q
And if you’d like to make a donation check out Darren’s fundraising page.
The SUPboarder team wishes Darren all the best with his challenge, and hopes the weather (and nessy!) is kind!