Update (October 2011): The Challenge has been and gone and in terms of weather it was one of the worst for a long time. I've now added links to the reports and blogs produced by each of the Challengers I highlighted in my original post. They are all definitely worth a read.
The annual TGO Challenge kicks off this weekend with several people already on the move from various starting points on the west coast of Scotland. This post is really just a collection of links to various people taking part and I'll try and keep it updated as I spot others. Please leave a comment with any other Challengers you know about (or if you are a Challenger!) and I'll add in the information. Finally, good luck to everyone taking part this year.
Phil Turner (PhilOutdoors on Twitter, Blog, Social Hiking Map) has already walked across Skye and has recently left Glenelg bound for Crieff by way of the old Highland drove roads. His post on the route and his reasons behind following this ancient right of way is worth a read.
Phil didn't publish a report or blog but you can read some thoughts about his kit.
James Boulter (bpackingbongos on Twitter, Blog) has also recently dipped his toes in the sea at Shiel Bridge and is now underway. His recent blog posts have covered everything from kit to music choices for the Challenge.
James wrote an excellent account of his Challenge experience which you can read on his blog starting at this post.
Nigel Ellis (chillidemon on Twitter, Blog, Social Hiking Map) has come across from the Pacific North West with his wife Lynn. They started in Mallaig and have sadly bypassed the Old Forge before continuing on through the Rough Bounds. Their blog has good kit info and reports on their preparation for the Challenge.
Nigel updated his blog on a daily basis and so you can read an account of his Challenge by starting at this post.
Martin Rye (Rye1966 on Twitter, Blog) is about to head north to start his Challenge route from Oban. Martin is always worth following for his interesting routes and lightweight kit set-up. He has blogged about his preparations including kit, maps and route planning.
Martin had a very wet crossing and has written up an excellent account of his Challenge experience in a two part blog post starting here.
Andy Howell (Andrew Howell on Twitter, Blog) is taking part in the Challenge but not live updating as far as I can tell. However, he has engaged a number of excellent outdoor bloggers to write guest posts. The first one, from Colin Ibbotson is already up on the site.
Andy has put a lot of effort into writing up his adventurous 2011 crossing, along with a lot of useful route information, which you can read in full here.
Finally, someone who I didn't profile at the time, but whom I have subsequently "met" via his blog, Google+ and online, is Alan Sloman who has also done an excellent write up of his crossing. It begins at the beginning with Part 0 here.
The Challenge is something I aspire to complete one day, though I don't think I'm ready to commit to a year just yet. I certainly need to build up more experience with wild camping and long through routes. Nevertheless, following the progress of this year’s Challengers, particularly with all the different technologies now available, is a great way of motivating myself to bring the date closer.
If you want to keep track of them then you might want to check out this SPOT tracking page as highlighted by the TGO Challenge organisers themselves. This one is provided by Adventure Trading Post who operate the SPOT satellite tracking technology now in use around the world. There are currently nine Challengers appearing on the map which updates every two minutes to show progress.
A second option is to check out the individual Social Hiking maps of the Challengers (see my links above). Social Hiking is a brilliant service that combines location information derived from a multitude of possible sources (Viewranger, Instamappr, Twitter, SPOT) and combines these with geotagged/timestamped media (from the likes of Flickr and Audioboo) to create fully interactive, media-rich maps of progress made. It is a great way to track and interact with people out and about. The intention of Social Hiking is to have a dedicated TGO Challenge Map launched this weekend which will cover all of the current Challengers using the service on one map - I'll update this post once a link is available..
In addition, I’ve set up a Twitter list for the TGO Challenge 2011 competitors which you can follow to have all their updates in one place. I’ve added all those I know are taking part in the 2011 Challenge but please let me know in the comments if there are others (or if there is already a list like this in existence!) In addition, there are a couple of hashtags being used by a few folk to discuss the challenge, these are #TGOC and #TGO.