Players of Aberdeen Taexali Rugby Club have kickstarted the new year with a challenge to walk, run and cycle the 502 miles to the Twickenham Stadium in time for the Calcutta Cup on February 6, while raising funds for two great causes.
Faced with another lockdown, during a dark and cold January, the inclusive club’s welfare officer Brandon Jones decided it was time to get players moving, while boosting their mental health. The challenge has proved so popular that the team is now aiming to complete the roundtrip and collectively clock up 1,004 miles before this Saturday.
Mr Jones said: “During the last lockdown we were able to meet up in pairs to carry out some exercises that our head coach had set us. This allowed us to keep on top of our physical health, while also benefiting our own mental health and wellbeing.
“It meant that when we returned to training last June after initial restrictions were lifted, many of us were a little more prepared and feeling fitter than we would have otherwise. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to get back to training in the not-so-distant future but figured that while we’re at home and not able to do much – a steps challenge would be an ideal way to get players out and about!”
As a result, 24 players signed up to the challenge and were split into four competing teams – Dolly Pantin’, Chafing the Dream, Baby Got Track and The Walk Destroyers. Taking place from January 1, the teams were challenged to be the first to cover the 502 miles to Twickenham Stadium before kick-off at the Calcutta Cup.
Jones explained: “With everyone looking forward to Scotland facing England as part of the opening weekend of the Six Nations, we thought that ‘racing’ to the game would be a great way to motivate the team. We’re a competitive bunch, so it’s been great to see everyone throw themselves at it. As well as walking, running and cycling, some players have even clocked up the miles on horse and on the ski slopes!”
Funds raised will be split between Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and Team Jak, a charity that offers emotional, social and practical support to children and young people with cancer and related illnesses from all over Scotland. The teams involved have already surpassed their initial target of reaching the stadium as well as smashing their target of £1,000. Now, aiming to make the 502 miles home, the club hopes to hit donations of £2,000 before the challenge ends this weekend.
“Our captain, Rob Clunas, generously volunteered to do his last mile naked if we reached £1,000 so we’re now thinking of what we can do if we reach £2,000. All suggestions – and donations are welcome!”
To support Taexali in their efforts, donations can be made to their Crowdfunding Page