SUP Race Across Scotland: Great Glen Challenge 2019

The Great Glen Challenge is a 92km race across the width of Scotland. The challenge will take paddlers through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world and across the mighty Loch Ness. TotalSUP caught up with the super busy UK endurance paddler, Joanne Hamilton-Vale, organiser of the challenge, founder of the UK Endurance Race Series, and one of the toughest female SUP athletes in the world, for a quick insight into this epic race.

Hi Joanne, thank you very much for tuning in on your way up Ben Nevis! Wow! The Great Glen Challenge is a unique endurance event on the UK SUP racing scene. What makes it so special?

Hi! The Great Glen is so special because you are crossing a whole country and the scenery is some of the best in the world.


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What are the highlights of this year’s event?

This year’s highlight is that we have 17 nationalities entered from as far as Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hawaii. We also have Bart de Zwart racing, one of the best endurance paddlers in the world, who is also holding a clinic for last minute tips and advice.

First hand reports on the Great Glen Challenge from Ben Nevis

We actually caught up with Bart on his way to Scotland and it’s going to be a super exciting race…

“For me Scotland is one of my favourite events because I bring my wife and come early to spend some time travelling through the highlands. The race course is beautiful and takes you from one side to the other. This year there are more racers than ever. About 15 of the 100 will race the non-stop, the rest the 2-day version of the same course. Normally the course takes about 11 hours but it all depends on wind and weather,” said Bart de Zwart. “I have to see how I feel on the water after the SUP 11 City Tour non-stop and the Muskoka River X challenges I completed over the last two weekends but I feel good right now. My goal is always, the top of the podium but I after the last two events any podium place is good.”

Bart de Zwart has just smashed the 223km Muskoka River X Coureur des Bois Challenge

3. What is the ratio between female and male paddlers?

Currently we have an 80/20 split. We need more ladies. I may have to paddle next year to get the girls numbers up. Get myself out of retirement for the Yukon 1000 and a final Great Glen. Especially if someone breaks my current record for crossing Scotland.

Joanne Hamilton-Vale in her element

What will the Great Glen challenge throw at contestants this year?

This year we have turned on the heat and the sunshine but less wind. Last two years have been massive downwind raves with wind speeds up to 45 knots. We always decide the direction of the course the night before to more or less ensure a downwind paddle.

What is the average preparation and training time required for this challenge?

With 10-12 weeks training you will be able to do the crossing no problem. This race is an eating game. If you eat you can continue paddling.

What’s next for the UK Paddle Endurance Series?

Next year we’ll have the Norfolk Broads Classic and the Great Glen Challenge, for sure. More details will be announced in the next two weeks.

Thank you Joanne for the chat and good luck with the Great Glen Challenge!

To find out more about the UK Paddle Endurance Series, visit

About the Author

Anna Nadolna

Anna is the Founder of SUPer Whale, a Cambridge(UK!)-based emerging watersports brand and a stand-up paddleboarding community. She is a certified SUP Flat Water Instructor accredited by International Surfing Association (ISA). Anna is also a digital marketing, storytelling aficionado and a growth hacking enthusiast.

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