A Big MAD Dream

My love for the outdoors is a long founded one. Growing up in the Scottish countryside, I always enjoyed exploring mysurroundings and learning why the landscape looks the way it does, lumps, bumps and dips included. This played a big part in my decision to study Geography at university where I gained a different understanding of our landscape; learning the wonders it contains and also the very real and very big threats it faces.


This got me thinking. There must be a way to combine my love of the environment and my desire to take sustainable action into something that made a real difference to our world. The potential was there but how to make people care about sustainability in a fun way that also got them outside?

This is where MAD Challenges Co-Founder, Dave Bell, and DoNation came in.

Fast forward to August last year and I found myself saying yes to taking part my friend Dave’s mad idea of walking up anddown Arthur’s Seat repeatedly for 12 hours. Instead of collecting financial sponsorship for my efforts, everyone participating in the event used DoNation – an online platform that enables people to be sponsored in sustainable behaviour change rather than money. You can read more about how DoNation works in Dave’s recent blog (link).

As I walked up Arthur’s Seat for the 18th time in a row (yes that’s right), was it mad? Yes. Was it insanely hard and did I feel my legs would fall off? Yes. But did it give me a chance to talk about sustainability with my friends and result in them making a huge number of positive behaviour changes from cycling to work to eating less dairy? Yes!

After the legs had recovered, Dave and I got down to business. We thought, why not expand this idea and create multiple events where participants have to do something novel, unusual and a little bit mad whilst also doing something good for the planet? A big dream indeed.

Taking this public, Dave and I were given the opportunity to speak at Scotland’s 2nd Youth Climate Summit last November where we shared our idea with literally hundreds of people. Our experience at the summit was a hugely positive one and we soon assembled a team of committee members. It’s fair to say Dave and I were bowled over at the enthusiasm, creativity and passion people had for our idea!

Over the course of many weekends and cups of tea, we discussed how we could build a recognisable brand that ran a host of endurance adventure events and the concept of MAD Challenges was born. Standing for Move Act Do, the name encapsulated exactly what we were trying to achieve: challenge people physically, encourage sustainable actions and do something to make a difference. We started to formulate our action plan for the year and set ourselves some ambitious goals, the first of these to create a new adventure event.

The result of this was the creation of MAD Clyde – a weighted 35 mile endurance trek along the River Clyde. There are two shorter time and distances that participants can select but the concept remains the same, to challenge yourself wherever your abilities may lie and to collect as many DoNation pledges as possible. MAD Clyde is designed to suit all abilities of adventurer and we’re really excited to see it unfold!