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From roaming the Shropshire hills as a boy emulating his hero, bushcraft legend Ray Mears, to serving with the army in Afghanistan and climbing in the Himalayas, Lochyside resident Ben Turner cannot get enough of the great outdoors.
In fact, after he left the army just under two years ago and then spent time in the Alps running and climbing, Ben, now 26, was so desperate to get back to the wilds of the West Highlands where he had often holidayed with his family as a youngster that he spent the first few months sleeping in his car in Tobermory.
This was while he was training for an biking adventure trip around Iceland. When he returned from there, he bought a van and lived in that for a while in Fort William, and worked in the Wildcat cafe.
There followed a stint working as a gardener in Roshven to his present employment with the town’s Cotswold outdoors store.
But speaking to Ben it becomes clear how driven he is to achieve his goals and that he is working to a carefully crafted master plan as befits a former member of the army’s Intelligence Corps.
Ben’s dream is to one day soon become a full-time adventure athlete and coach/nutritionist/speaker and brand ambassador, with the next step along that path being his aim of smashing the record for the notoriously difficult 230-mile Cape Wrath Trail.
The current fastest known time stands at four days, nine hours and 43 minutes, but in April this year Ben intends to run the route in under 60 hours – less than three days.
Ben’s run will be filmed for a feature length documentary by McGrath Digital Media, fulfilling a long-held dream of his to create a high quality story around one of his crazy projects, to share a positive message and encourage people to do good.
Premiered through social media, this project is centred on the beauty of the Highlands and showcasing evidence-based training and nutrition.
In addition,he has launched a #BreakYourOwnRecord campaign to encourage a million people across the UK to get outside and break their own personal sporting or fitness records, whatever they may be.
On his website, he explains: ‘As a student of sports nutrition and exercise science, I aim to change the interpretation of fitness and nutrition education to show people the evidence-based principles behind training and nutrition, so they may make their own methods and move forward empowered.’
He now also has a website set up to promote his expertise as an extreme athlete, coach, speaker and brand ambassador, and his ultimate dream is to win the Iron Man World Championships in Kona in Hawaii in 2022.
‘As an evidenced-based practitioner, I like to bring fact-based evidence about training methods and nutrition to help endurance athletes in running, cycling, rope climbing … whatever.
‘Undertaking things like the Cape Wrath Trail is a way of providing that fact-based evidence – it’s hard, it’s remote and it’s incredibly demanding, but also one of most spectacular places on the planet.
‘For me, it is about far more than just running another trail, so I thought I’d also see how fast I can go. It will be the ultimate trail running adventure and breaking the record turns it into something really challenging.’
With an upsurge in the popularity of television programmes and books on extreme training and survival by people like former special forces soldier, Ant Middleton, Ben acknowledges there is a developing market for people wanting to push themselves a bit further than normal fitness clubs might provide.
‘I think people in those circles, like Ant Middleton, have a different way of operating and thinking and there is a market for people who want to be pushed further.
‘When I was 17, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do but I definitely felt there was something more I had to give and it often takes an Ant Middleton-type to bring that out.
‘You find very often that people are waiting to find their next level and want an easy way to it, but there is no easy way. It’s all about upping one’s game and often you need help to reach that next level – which is where I can and help.’