News & Views

The Selkie Race – 4 weeks to go

9th July 2021

With only 4 weeks until James Armour plans to run, cycle and swim non-stop the length of the Outer Hebrides to raise funds for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, RobMac as one of his sponsors thought it would be a good time to catch up with him.


“So how are your preparations going for this epic challenge?”

“Good so far and with only 4 weeks to go nearly all the key components are in place. I’ve secured the safety boat as well as a kayaker to accompany me on the swims which was essential. I’ve got another two weeks of training before I ease off and rest before the attempt which all going well will be on July 30th at 03:45.”

“Why do you set off in the middle of the night?”

“It’s all to do with the tides and currents that flow in between the islands. They can be strong, especially at narrow channels and I need to be going with the current and not against it otherwise I could be swimming backwards!  There’s also the small issue of the whirlpool at Pabbay  which I need to avoid so planning for the tides is really important.”

“How long do you think it will take you to run, cycle and swim the 184 miles?”

“I’m hoping it will be less than 48 hours and if all goes according to plan, I’d like to target 40 hours but that will probably be weather dependent.”

“So, what are the main challenges that you expect to encounter and how do you plan for them?”

“I’ve mentioned the tides and we can definitely plan for that as they are predictable. Jellyfish can be a concern, but the nasty stinging ones tend to arrive in August and September, but I’ll still be wearing a wetsuit that covers everything but my face so hopefully that’s not an issue. The one unpredictable factor is the weather. If there are strong winds, then that whips up the sea state and making progress against waves is much tougher and slows you right down. Also, the cold can have a big impact on your stamina, so we are hoping for a calm and warm spell of weather come the end of July!”

“What about your fitness? I know you’ve been training hard, but have you learned anything that will help your progress?”

“The main thing is the transition from one discipline to another. I noticed that swimming immediately after being in the saddle for 4 hours and covering 100km was harder than I expected. Even though I tend not to use my legs for swimming, the energy used in that length of cycle slowed my swim down more than I expected.  Which is why for the the next two weekends, that’s what I’m focussing on. I’m going to Loch Lomond this weekend to swim 7.5km, then cycle 100km and then swim another 7.5km to build up my stamina for those transitions.”

“Incredible. I understand that even though you’re an elite athlete, you have some top tips for open water/wild swimming that you’re happy to share with our clients?”

“Yes, next week I’ll share some of my top swimming tips. Before the race, I’ll also share  some of the key places to visit in the Hebrides. Just in case anyone wants to come and watch and support me!”

“That’s great James. We look forward to hearing from you then and in the meantime, good luck with the training.”

And just a reminder that James is doing this to raise money for a very good cause. The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust has been around for 19 years and work directly with local communities to ensure whales, dolphins and porpoises are protected and valued throughout Scotland’s west coast. James hopes to raise £10,000 for the trust. For more information about the trust visit the website.

We’ll continue to keep you posted on James’s training and fundraising progress too which you can contribute to at any time on his fundraising page.