I can't quite believe that this will be my 19th Highland Cross - they give an award to those idiots who complete 20. I have competed in various events in the UK and beyond but there is something quite special about the Cross and the 20 mile run into Glen Affric and the 30 mile cycle to Beauly! We are drawn back year after year by the challenge it presents our increasingly injury-prone and slowing bodies - and most importantly, by the incredible contribution it makes to smaller highland charities who don't generally get this level of exposure
* The event has a tremendous atmosphere and all of the supported charities provide volunteers to help out at the event.
The event is organised and run by volunteers and the staging costs are covered by the entry fee, meaning that every penny raised goes directly to nominated charities. As in every year, the organisers select the highland charities to benefit, to ensure that each receives a significant sum. This year's charities are:
* Calman Trust: an organisation providing training opportunities to young people who are disengaged from the education process and/or experience difficulty in the transition to independent living. The Trust are hoping to purchase a refrigerated van to allow young people to learn work skills while actually working through delivering external catering.
*Cantraybridge College - The only learning resource of its kind in the Highlands providing intensive social care, educational and housing support services to young people aged 16-30 with learning and physical disabilities and autism spectrum conditions. The College wants to purchase a minibus to assist with a range of activities for their volunteers and students.
*CCAST Highland - A registered charity seeking funding to purchase a vehicle to double the number of people that their support workers can reach. The charity provides a housing support service in Ross Shire and Sutherland for vulnerable people in danger of losing their homes as a result of financial hardship or dependancy issues.
*Lucky2BHere - run entirely by unpaid volunteers, the charity supplies defibrillators, other life saving equipment and training to communities in the Highlands.
*Puffin Hydrotherapy Pool Biomass Heating Project - an established Highland medical charity providing hydrotherapy for disabled children and adults for 15 years, the pool now requires modernisation and upgrading.
*Seaforth House - the charity provides accommodation, respite care and services to those requring help on a daily basis and those carers needing a break.
If you would like more information on the event, please go to www.highlandcross.co.uk.
With a calendar full of charity events I appreciate that you will have had many calls on your cash but these are very worthwhile causes and if the forecast remains unchanged I will be getting wet and very tired on Saturday on their behalf. No matter how little you are able to give, it is greatly appreciated.