Julie's diary

Julie McElroy writes about her trials as she prepares for the Ben Nevis Challenge.

Julie McElroy

Hello everyone, welcome to my diary.
It contains a record of my training and preparations for the Ben Nevis Challenge, which took place on the 31st of May 2008. This was the first wheelchair-leading team challenge to attempt to reach the top of Ben Nevis.

Just to give you a bit of background. I was born and raised in Glasgow with my twin sister, Amy. My twin is able bodied. I was born with Cerebral Palsy. This has resulted in walking difficulties, speech and hearing impairment along with manual dexterity problems. Despite this, I have managed to lead an active life.

In tackling the Ben Nevis Challenge our aim was to promote outdoor activities and challenges as enjoyable experiences for everyone, regardless of their disabilities. Before the event I was 100% certain that together we could achieve our goals and complete the challenge successfully.

I believe it was one of the boldest events of recent times - read my diary entries to find out how we got on!

Most recent diary entry - Ben Nevis Challenge: The Big Day

Julie on Ben Nevis during the Ben Nevis Challenge

3 June 2008
Six out of the eight wheelchair teams made it to the top of the summit of Ben Nevis. Congratulations to all who took part and especially to the Lombard team who won the race.

Julie's earlier diary entries

Julie outside the Science Centre in Glasgow

29 May 2008 - Only days to go
With only days to go till the Ben Nevis Challenge, Julie writes about last minute preparations and big thrills

Snow on Ben Nevis, May 2008 (image courtesy of Andrew Yule)

28 May 2008 - Whatever the weather
Last minute preparations include a detailed check of the weather forecast on Ben Nevis

Julie inside the BBC offices at Pacific Quay in Glasgow

20 May 2008 - A slight setback
Julie slows down her training schedule to avoid injury as the climb up Ben Nevis draws nearer.

Julie in the Andes

07 May 2008 - As seen on tv
The excitement builds up as Julie prepares to be seen on tv in Across the Andes, a documentary about a group trip she took part in during 2007.

Julie McElroy using walking poles on 'The Whangie'

06 May 2008 - Balancing act
Julie weighs up the pros and cons of taking walking sticks on long mountain trips.

A team try to get a wheelchair over a gate

24 April 2008 - Training weekend
Julie endures an arduous training session in preparation for the Ben Nevis Challenge.

Julie with her twin sister Amy

27 March 2008 - The Young Scot Awards
An evening of stars and inspiration at the Young Scot awards.

Walking boots

14 March 2008 - Off on the right footing
Julie writes about selecting the right footwear for a ten-hour trek up Ben Nevis.

Ken Hames and Julie in the Andes

7 March 2008 - Dealing with deafness
Why deafness can cause additional problems during outdoor expeditions.

Julie on a rowing machine

3 March 2008 - The pull of the gym
Julie writes about finding the motivation to work out at the gym on a rainy winter weekend.

Julie McElroy

27 February 2008 - Young Scot Awards
On being shortlisted for a national award.

Ken Hames and Julie McElroy at the launch of the Ben Nevis Challenge

14 February 2008 - Launching the challenge
Julie writes about the day of the launch of the Ben Nevis Challenge.

Track on Ben Nevis, November 2007

13 November 2007 - Trying out the route

An arduous day on the hills as the route of the race is tested with a wheelchair.

Do you have any questions for Julie? Post your comments in the form below.

Page first published on Thursday 28th February 2008
Page last updated on Thursday 16th October 2008

Your Views

Julie McElroy (www.juliemcelroy.com)
Hi David, great to see you have taken the time and opportunity to come back to my blog here and share your success of completing the half marathon you had set out to do. I congratulate on your winning success!! The adrenalin rush will now give you the impetus to challenge yourself further!It is natural that you experienced some discomfort it after the marathon however, it can only make you tougher and prepare yourself for future marathons! The mental mindset will give you that willpower to pull through such magnitude and return give you a greater feat of endurance.Good luck on your 2nd marathon and I am sure you will thrive through no problem! ;-) Believe me, things becomes easier second time round.Most of all have fun and raise funds for such a worthwhile cause. Yet once again, I'll be willing you on!

David Smail
Hiya Julie,Its been some time since I last wrote (June last year to be exact) but I thought I'd let you know I achieved my goal of running a half marathon. You were absolutely right - the buzz I got in crossing the finishing line was awesome. You were also right when you said it would probably inspire me to push myself even further. I subsequently completed my first (but not my last) marathon in Dublin last October. It was sore as hell, and I was walking down the stairs backwards for 3 days afterwards, but I'm now convinced that I can do anything I want to if I put my mind to it. At 21 miles in the marathon the pain in my legs was unbearable and I thought I might have to pack it in. That was when I thought about your efforts crossing the Andes and I gritted my teeth and got on with it. Thanks for the inspiration. I'll be doing my 2nd marathon in Dublin this October and would you believe my efforts have inspired my 21 year old, 6 foot 4 baby boy to join his old dad in putting himself through agony. 'Pay it forward' clearly works. I'm running for Guide Dogs for the Deaf so hope to raise tons of cash. Again, when the pain hits, and it feels like I can't go on (I'm sure there's a song in there somewhere) I'll think about you as an inspiration to stop complaining and get on with it. Carpe Diem.

Debi McAndrew
Well done Julie. Your determination and humour in the face of adversity are an absolute inspiration to everyone. It's great that you focus on what you can do, and not what you can't! Keep up the good work.

Julie McElroy
Thanks very much David! Good luck with the half marathon, you have come along way and it would be a great shame not to accomplish your goal. You will feel a great sense of achievement and it will lead you to going onto do more marathons. It's all about mental willpower, no matter how tired you are physically you will find the mental strength to succeed. Do let me know how you get on, I'll be willing you on towards the finishing line on the 22nd!

What a gal!!!! Talk about doing Scotland proud. Julie, seeing you demonstrate such single-minded determination on Across the Andes made chest soar. At your lowest ebb I was shouting at the TV "don't give up" but I knew deep inside there was no chance you would. My own challenge in the last 2 years was to lose 10 stone in weight and run a 10K for charity - I'm happy to report I've lost the weight and now have a half marathon to look forward to in Dundee on 22nd June. I know it's not in the same league as your achievements Julie, but it gives me a sense of personal worth that I never had before. At the worst moments I'll be visualising your efforts in the last episode of Across the Andes and I won't fail. Thanks for giving one Scot the inspiration to do what other Scots are so clearly capable of.

David Helensburgh
Julie,both the Andes trip and the Ben are a true measure of your courage and determination.Well done and keep up the Munro bagging! Dave

Good luck for May 31st and the Ben Nevis Challenge. I have found watching Across the Andes inspiring and wish you well on your future adventures.

Emma - Dublin - Ireland
Julie, I watch the 1st Andes programme last Friday and am truly inspired by you. I am closing in on forty and it has taken the strength and courage of someone in their twenties to show me how to take life by both hands. Wish you all the best and whatever you have you should bottle it and sell it.

Eric Morrison
Well done again Julie. I have been reading your blog "down-under" on a visit to son Neil in Melbourne. You are a star on the other side of the world!! Eric (Jean's husband)

yvonne and tom
well done, julie! you are fantastic! All the best and lots of love xxx

You're an inspiration! All the best for the challenge. Go girl!

kirsty tibble
Hy Julie,wishing you all the best with your new adventure. It was great to see you at the wedding and hear a bit of your news.I have let Natalie and Antonia know how to log on to your diary so that they can keep in touch with what you are up to next! all the best! Kirstyx

This is amazing, Julie. Very best wishes for every success in all your adventures.

Auntie Kay
Welldone Julie. Best of luck at the awards ceremony and Happy Hiking in May.

Carol Raphael
Good work Julie!I hope you make the goal of the sumit on Ben Nevis!on 31,May,2008.And may the Gods give you wings to fly!!up there.

Gayle Harvey
Julie, I am so proud to say I know you. All the best for you Ben Nevis Challenge (it'll be a doddle to you!!) You really are an inspiration to us all.

I have known Julie throughout school years and I now count her as a friend. I hope to learn from her experiences, and good luck with the awards Julie. Let me know how you get along and tell Heather from the Sunday Mail I said hi! (did Work Experience there in January)

I wish you all the best, we often hear of the negative side of things in life on the news, but hats off to you , you are an inspiration . chin up.

Pat Davers
Julie has determination and focus in shedloads. She is an inspiration to us all. There is no question that she will succeed in her Ben Nevis challenge and I wish her luck in the forthcoming awards ceremony - no one deserves it more than her

I have had the privilege of being a fellow student with Julie at The University of the West of Scotland (Paisley), watching her give solo presentations in an environment that would challenge most able bodied individuals. This young lady is an encouragement to all who have the privilege to get to know her; she never lets anything get in her way of her success. Is she Superwoman, no, just a determined young lady that has grasped every opportunity to be as great as she can be, and with a little encouragement, even better.

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