Johnstons join star-studded line up for Doddie Aid

The Johnston family from left: Charlie, Harry, Jack, Ethel (on the bike) and Andrew.

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Oban Lorne Rugby Football Club coach Andrew Johnston and his family haven’t been letting the grass grow under their feet during lockdown II.

Over the six weeks from the beginning of January, up to the Calcutta Cup kick-off on February 6, the quintet, including wife Ethel and children Charlie, Harry and Jack, walked and cycled more than 1,300 miles between them as part of the Doddie Aid Challenge.

Raising money and awareness for Doddie Weir’s MND charity, the fundraiser was fantastically supported across the rugby community and was largely helped by linking it to the old inter-district championship with teams covering The North and Midlands, Glasgow, Edinburgh, South of Scotland and the Scottish Exiles. More than 25,000 people were involved and more than £1m was raised following a fantastic effort by everyone.

The event culminated in the World in a Day challenge organised by endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont and former Scotland flanker Rob Wainwright. The idea was based on Mark’s Round The World cycle in which he went round the world in 80 days which equated to completing 240 miles a day. The Doddie Aid challenge was to complete the 240 miles either individually or as a team on January 31.

‘We started at 6am and took turns to complete the mileage and a wee bit more,’ said Andrew.

‘The children managed 50 miles each and my wife Ethel completed 60 miles. I managed 70 miles after going back on to bring the session to a close with some of the stragglers who were doing the whole challenge.

‘It was a fantastic day with live Zoom calls with rugby legends John Barclay, Kelly Brown and Rob Wainwright, Olympic medallists Kathryn Grangeer and Chris Hoy and Glasgow team manager Ally McCoist, all spaced out over the day to help the miles fly by.

‘It was great to be involved and it helped fill the time before the Six Nations kicked off with a fantastic Scotland victory over England.’

Andrew is hoping he can get back on the rugby pitch in the weeks to come as the country emerges from the latest lockdown.