TWO amateur rugby players from Edinburgh are hoping to channel the spirit of Doddie Weir with their own charity campaign.    

Currie Chieftains full-back Charlie Brett and his long-time neighbour and friend Toby Gray, a front-row at Merchiston Castle School, will run 12 marathons on 12 consecutive days this June under the banner of the ‘Tartaneers’, with the aim of raising £30,000 for cancer charities Make 2nds Count and Marie Curie. They are already just over £13,500 of the way towards that total. 

It is going to be gruelling dozen days for two rugby players with no real experience in endurance sport, but the pair believe that they needed to go big so as to achieve their aim of creating a movement which reaches beyond their own close circle of friends and family.   

“Last year, a family friend of ours came down with breast cancer and we wanted to do something to raise a bit of money and really just show our support,” explains 22-year-old Brett, who plays full-back for Currie Chieftains. “So, we came up with this idea of a 24-hour challenge consisting of a 2km row, a 3km run and 10km cycle very hour over the course of a full day.”    

“We were astonished when we raised over £22,000 – we were hoping to reach £2,000 – and we loved the whole experience.  

“Unfortunately, a month later our friend was re-diagnosed with a brain tumour, and she passed away at the end of November, so we were really down in the dumps about it but decided that we had to do something to honour her memory and we wanted to go bigger than the previous challenge.   

“But we also wanted to make it more of a community-based thing rather than just being about the us, so we got in touch with another friend, Jack Nicholls, to see if he could get him involved to video and document whatever it is we decided to do.  

“Then we got in touch with Shona Campbell, who is involved with the Scotland Women team, and she agreed to become our team manager.   

“And once we got the team in place, we came up with the challenge of 12 marathons in 12 days, running from Torrisdale on the north coast straight down the middle of Scotland and into Edinburgh. We've called it the Highlands2Home challenge.  

“Now we’re looking to expand it, to not only raise awareness and money for two very important charities – Make 2nds Count and Marie Curie – but also push this message that if you can put your mind to something then anything is possible. Neither Toby nor I are marathon runners. I ran my first half marathon two months ago.   

“We want to do something special for the family who has really suffered through cancer, and we know that there won’t be many people in Scotland who hasn’t suffered from that disease in some way.”  

“So, the challenge is in memory of all our loved ones who have been taken by cancer and for families everywhere whose lives have been impacted by cancer. We’ve discovered a new-found passion to push ourselves beyond the limits for a cause bigger than ourselves.”  

The plan is to connect with rugby clubs, schools and anyone else interested in getting involved as the pair make their way through Scotland, and there are also plans a foot to run a series of events leading up to the challenge which will encourage community engagement. 

It is hoped that some rugby clubs and schools will join Chieftains and Merchiston in incorporating Tartaneer activity into their pre-season programme, with any monies raised split equally between the two nominated charities and the clubs as they struggle to get back on track after a year of lockdown.   

“We don’t want this to be a one-off,” says 18-year-old Gray. “I suppose we’re following the example of Doddie Weir and his foundation in terms of building a brand and creating something which everyone can get involved with in some way. You don’t have to run 12 marathons to be a Tartaneer. You can do whatever you want.   

“We’re local Edinburgh lads, but we realise that this challenge is not in Edinburgh, so we want to get in contact with every club and school we pass on our journey and hopefully do something with them.”