Extreme Hike in Scottish Highlands Helps Local Wounded Warriors

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Billed as “the toughest event of its kind,” the Cateran Yomp allows participants, arranged in teams of three to six people, to choose to walk 22, 36 or 54 miles in 24 hours.

NICEVILLE — Up against a 24-hour deadline, hiking dozens of miles across the Scottish Highlands would be a challenge for anyone.

But for Andrew McCabe and Jason Morgan and people like them, the challenge is magnified.

McCabe, a Navy man, and Morgan, a Marine, are instructors at the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Eglin Air Force Base. Both EOD technicians are wounded warriors dealing with physical problems including traumatic brain injury and back injuries, and medical retirement is drawing near for each of them.

Last year, through the Allied Forces Foundation — an organization that raises money for British and American military personnel and their families affected by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — Morgan heard of something called the Cateran Yomp. He enjoyed it so much he invited McCabe to try it with him this year.

“It’s one of the best events I’ve ever been to,” McCabe said.

Yomp is British military slang for a long-distance march with a loaded pack. Billed as “the toughest event of its kind,” the Cateran Yomp allows participants, arranged in teams of three to six people, to choose to walk 22, 36 or 54 miles in 24 hours. Participants, despite all having some medical challenge, carry about 25 pounds of gear, including water, food and extra clothing. This year’s Cateran Yomp was held June 8-9 in Perthshire, Scotland.

Soldiers and veterans from the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, Georgia and Ukraine participated in this year’s Cateran Yomp.

“The whole push is having nations side by side,” McCabe said.

The yomp comes with terrain challenges, as participants cross boggy areas and fields and cope with a 4,500-foot elevation change. And there are also goats roaming the countryside — “attack goats,” Morgan jokingly called them — who will aggressively approach hikers.

And while it is a challenge for those wounded warriors, the Cateran Yomp offers substantial rewards, according to Morgan.

“It heals you not only physically, but also mentally, by showing guys (and women, too, Morgan noted) that they can be successful no matter what they’re going through,” he said.

“It’s difficult,” Morgan added, “but then you see guys who are amputees (participating in the event).”

Morgan, in his second year at the Cateran Yomp, covered the entire 54-mile distance, just as he did last year.

McCabe covered 36 miles before his Achilles tendon, damaged by shrapnel, swelled up to the point that he couldn’t continue.

“Fifty-four miles in 24 hours?,” McCabe recalls thinking immediately after Morgan suggested that he participate. “I wasn’t too keen on it right off the bat,” he admitted, but with the support of his wife and children, he decided to give it a try.

“It was definitely a good experience,” he said.

Already in decent shape, neither McCabe nor Morgan did much extra training for the yomp. Morgan visited the Workout Anytime gym in Niceville and did some walking.

“We knocked out a few hikes,” McCabe said. “I should have done some more.”

McCabe is already planning his training regimen for next year’s Cateran Yomp, and says he’ll likely spend lots of time hiking across the dry sand at area beaches.

McCabe and Morgan participated with support from the EOD Warrior Foundation and several local businesses. Both men have become enthusiastic supporters of the yomp, and are actively recruiting fellow wounded warriors who they believe would gain confidence through training and participating in the event.

“I’ve already reached out to four guys,” McCabe said.

The event is staged by The Soldier’s Charity, the national charity for the British army. In recent years the Allied Forces Foundation has become a major part of the yomp, and wounded warriors such as McCabe and Morgan are an integral part of the event.

The Allied Forces Foundation is taking notice of the Cateran Yomp, according to Morgan. Sometime this year, the organization will try its own yomp on a 60-mile section of the Appalachian Trail.

The Cateran Yomp provided opportunities for wounded warriors to talk with each other about the challenges they face and to think about other soldiers who have died or whose physical challenges won’t let them participate.

“You’re physically just drained,” McCabe said, “and you’re meeting people, you’re talking … .”

“I got teary-eyed at the end,” Morgan said, as he thought about fallen soldiers who weren’t around to participate. “I’ll unabashedly say I got emotional.”

 

 

AFF – Bridging the Gap for Service Members

The Allied Forces Foundation; Bridging The Gap for Service Members

Figure 1: U.S. and U.K. Service members participating in the grueling Cateran Yomp, Perth Scotland.

December 22, 2010, July 12, 2011, March 29th, 2012.  Ambiguous dates too many, but for some, these are days that have forever altered lives.  There are a vast number of dates that have permanently transformed our service members.

many of our service men and women who have fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan, bare the scares of these conflicts, the types of injuries sustained and the effects they have had on the service members, some clear and noticeable, while other wounds are inconspicuous and subtle, are long-lasting. The damage has not only changed their lives, these injuries have significantly impacted families and communities.

Many injured service members leave active duty with a numbness, a sense of defeat, a promising career cut short on an ill-fated day thousands of miles from home.  These men and women have a challenging time acclimating to civilian life, with the additional complications of what could seem like never-ending medical treatment.  In some circumstances depression sets in, anger, a feeling of abandonment and a longing for the camaraderie that was abruptly cut short.

While a permanent overarching ‘remedy” may never be able to accommodate each individuals particular medical requirements, one noteworthy organization is offering a unique opportunity for our service men and women to reconnect, challenge one’s self and experience a fragment of the world that otherwise they would not encounter.

The Allied Forces Foundation (AFF), is a British-American foundation that was established to recognize and further the uniquely close connection between the United States and the United Kingdom.  The AFF works to raise awareness and funding for allied wounded and their families affected by the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each year the AFF selects a group of roughly seventy service members of all ranks, both active and retired, for a seven day trip to Scotland hosted by our British allies.  Though their experiences vary, all are equal, side by side.

 

This year’s excursion included a visit to some of Scotland’s most treasured landmarks; Edinburgh Castle, the Black Watch Museum, the Wallace Monument, but the culminating event was the participation in the Cateran Yomp.  A yomp is Royal Marine slang describing a long-distance march carrying full gear.

The Yomp takes place each year in the foothills of the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland, where individuals participate in the bronze medal stage, 22 grueling Scottish miles, or participants can continue on through to the silver medal stage at 36 miles.

If up to the test, competitors can push on in teams of 3-6 people clashing through to 54 miles in some of the most punishing but awe inspiring terrain imaginable, all within 24 hours.  This year was the first year in the history of the Cateran Yomp that a number of single leg amputees made it all the way through to gold and all of them were from the AFF team!  The AFF also acknowledged our comrades from other nations as well, partners within this alliance who have battled and sacrificed courageously throughout these conflicts.  Countries like Denmark, and the Republic of Georgia all experiencing the trials of the Yomp.

As our service men and women celebrated their personal goals and milestones, British, American, Danes and Georgians, side by side, mutually experienced as we have before, a life changing event.

The concluding occasion was a formal military dinner provided by our British hosts with the following day’s event, an entertaining and lighthearted Highland games at Loch Tay in the central highlands of Scotland.

The final day is bittersweet as we prepare for our flight back to the states.  Addresses and numbers are exchanged with the promise of keeping in touch, some members of the group will, but most go back home and with the passing of time, are consumed with life, its adversities and its triumphs.  Though not an overarching “remedy”, the trip to Scotland provoked something different in each of us, eliciting a determination, resolve, brotherhood and the possibility to come to terms with the injuries sustained in combat.  This is not the last venture, as there are many opportunities to volunteer and spread the word regarding the positive impact the AFF is making on our veterans.  The team that participated in the Scotland trip is encouraged to reconvene 24-30 October 2018, when the AFF hosts our British Allies as they tour Washington D.C. and participate in the U.S. Marine Corps Marathon.

The AFF goes to great lengths to ensure these events are executed flawlessly.  Every year, the AFF continues to enhance its many programs in support of our veterans and allies abroad.  With your help this event can be even more successful.  I encourage you to contact the Allied Forces Foundation, recommend someone you may know who would benefit from such a profound experience, make a donation that will enable a service member to participate in this opportunity to reconnect, re-engage in a challenging but rewarding event, side by side.

2018 Cateran Yomp Conquered – 54 Miles in 24 Hours

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Tracey Edwards, Director of Marketing
Phone: (540) 272-5388
Email: Info@alliedforcesfoundation.org

Media & Marketing: edwards@alliedforcesfoundation.org

Website: www.alliedforcesfoundation.org

 

2018 Cateran Yomp Conquered – 54 Miles in 24 Hours
Allied Forces Foundation Team of 100 participates march in the annual ABF Cateran Yomp endurance hike through the foothills of Scotland’s Perth & Kinross countryside.
LEESBURG, VA  – June 20, 2018

 

Allied Forces Foundation team ready to take the challenge hosted by the ABF The Soldier’s Charity Cateran Yomp 2018, Perthshire, Scotland.

 

For the fifth consecutive year, the Allied Forces Foundation (AFF) participated in the ultimate charity walk, ABF’s The Soldier’s Charity Cateran Yomp in Perthshire, Scotland. This annual event challenges its participants to hike across the Scottish Highlands for 22 miles, 36.5 miles or 54 miles within a 24-hour period. This year’s Team AFF included 75 wounded, ill, or injured veterans or active duty service men and women from the United States, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Georgia and Denmark.  Additionally, Team AFF Cateran Yomp 2018 finishers broke two course records!  We had 3 amputees finish the entire 54-mile “gold” level course, which had never previously been accomplished, and a Danish husband and wife team completed the entire course in 11 hours, 22 minutes.  The majority of the Team AFF completed the 36.5-mile “silver” level course and everyone achieved their personal goals of taking part.

Physical endurance challenges, like the Cateran Yomp, deliver an opportunity for wounded, ill, and injured participants to come together with other active-duty and veterans who are facing similar experiences. It enhances the relationship between the wounded, ill, and injured personnel from nations who fought side by side together on the battlefield as allies and the Yomp provides the chance to share stories and advice as they fight together for recovery, renew their self-confidence, re-establish self-esteem, and provide a focus for rehabilitation.

“My participation in The Cateran Yomp, facilitated by the Allied Forces Foundation, was one of the top 5 experiences in my life,” said Todd Reed, an U.S. Army Special Forces and Arizona Police Department veteran and member of the 2018 Team AFF. “As a right foot and ankle amputee since 1991 due to a land mine injury sustained in North Iraq, I am blessed to be the first amputee to ever complete the 54-mile Yomp and to do so in 21 hours, 49 minutes!  This event brought heroes from different services and countries together.  The bonding with the other soldiers has been missing in my life since I retired.  It was an amazing event and week which helped so many realize they can conquer and do things they may have questioned before.  I am so blessed to be a part of this year’s Team AFF and plan to help the Allied Forces Foundation in any way I can for the rest of my life.”

 

During the week of June 6-13, 2018, Team AFF members not only participated in the Yomp, but they enjoyed Scottish cultural visits to the Edinburgh Castle, Black Watch Museum, and  National William Wallace Monument, Regimental Dinner Night hosted by 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland in the Officers Mess in Perth as well as the fun of learning the skills needed to enter in  the Wounded Warrior Highland Games at picturesque Loch Tay supported by Wild Fox Events and Lord Peregrine Moncreiffe. Logistical support for the week was provided by 45 Commando Group, Royal Marines.

Team AFF gratefully appreciates the supports of our numerous sponsor to include Patagonia, Lockheed Martin, Harquebus International, and the Scottish Government.  Without their generous support, the Allied Forces Foundation would not be able to fund this experience for our wounded, ill, and injured heroes.

About Allied Forces Foundation, Inc.

Allied Forces Foundation, Inc. (AFF) is a British-American nonprofit foundation established to raise awareness and funding for allied wounded affected by recent conflicts.  Incorporated in the Commonwealth of Virginia, AFF is registered with the IRS as a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization.  More information is available at www.alliedforcesfoundation.org.

 

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GotUrSix TV interviews Stuart Taylor

Please watch this interview below with our President, Stuart Taylor, on GotUrSix TV talking about his experience and Allied Forces Foundation!

Thank you Stuart Taylor, CEO of the Allied Forces Foundation and Owner of Stucan Solutions, shares his experience serving in the British Army and Commando Forces. His Allied Forces Foundation brings together British, American and other Allied Forces Veterans to provide Challenge based events for Veterans, and supports community events for veterans and their families.

Stuart’s Big Idea: Revitalize the President’s Challenge in each State, similar to the Invictus Award in the UK.