Sue Oxley, Ali Ogden & Mick Blackburn
Sue & Ali took over as coordinators of the TGO Challenge in 2014 with Mick joining then in 2023 – they are your first point of contact. Sue is a 17-time Challenger who completed her first crossing in 1982 and for several years held the record for the longest time taken to achieve 10 crossings! Ali completed her first Challenge in 2000 and her 11th crossing in 2019. Mick’s first crossing was in 2009 and he completed his 10th in 2019.
Sue & Ali met on the 2004 Challenge and have walked together on several Challenges since. A fledgling plan to open their own accommodation business took shape while completing their 2009 crossing and in 2012, along with their husbands they bought Newtonmore Hostel. Sue &Ali believe they are the first people to have met on the Challenge and subsequently gone into business together. In 2020 Kelsey Media gave Sue & Ali the opportunity to acquire the Challenge which they have done through their company Scotia Challenge Ltd. They don’t see themselves as owners, more custodians who as Challengers themselves will aim to look after the Event so it can be enjoyed by Challengers for many years to come.
All three Coordinators are keen walkers and backpackers, who have completed Land’s End to John o’ Groats walks. Ali & Sue’s were solo (a youthful Ali in 1990 and a slightly less youthful Sue in 2010) while Mick’s in 2009 was with his wife Gayle and sparked an interest in end to end walking with a Kent to Cape Wrath walk two years later. He and Gayle have also taken to ultrarunning participating in events such as the Lakeland 50 and 100 but he will of course stick to walking pace for the Challenge! Mick and Gayle have for many years supported Sue & Ali behind the scenes as advisors (and more recently as vetters) as well as at Challenge Control. Ali and Sue are very pleased Mick has agreed to join the Coordinating team and look forward to working with him on TGOC24.
We have 18 route vetters. All are volunteers who give copious hours of their own time to review routes every winter. They all have many crossings to their name and plenty of other experience in the Scottish hills as well. Some have worked as professional guides or been Mountain Rescue volunteers whilst other wander the hills and glens in their free time.
Every year either at least one of the Coordinators will lead the Challenge Control team with the others free to participate in the Challenge. They are assisted by three or four volunteers. Again all are experienced Challengers who know well both the Challenge area and the trials and tribulations of a Challenge crossing so can offer support whenever needed.
There are a whole host of other volunteers who give time back to the Event they cherish and make the Challenge possible. Most visible are Ann & Alvar Thorn who run St Drostan’s Hostel at Tarfside during the Challenge looking after Challengers with their team whilst other offer support in the background helping with art and design, health and safety procedures and the design of this website. All they get in return is a guaranteed place whenever they want to participate and the heartfelt thanks of the Coordinators and the Challenge family.