Gleneagles Townhouse

The Spirit of Adventure

9 June 2023

Each spring the Great Adventure Race brings a competitive edge to the grounds of Gleneagles – here we shine a light on this spectacular endurance event

The stunning Perthshire scenery surrounding Gleneagles has long attracted those with an adventurous spirit, from hunters and hikers to fisherman and falconry aficionados. Yet each spring, a particularly intrepid collection of guests gathers on the estate for what’s rapidly becoming a legendary endurance event. Taking in three disciplines, the Great Adventure Race is a thrilling celebration of the great outdoors, comprising a 4-kilometre canoe across a loch, a 16-kilometre run over Ben Vorlich – perhaps the most stunning summit in Perthshire – and a 35-kilometre cycle through local country roads, all followed by memorable celebrations and a glamorous prize- giving ceremony back at the hotel.

“This race is unique in that it ties in high-level hospitality with a really nice event that’s open to most people with a good level of fitness; it’s done in a day and they don’t have to be superhuman to take part,” says ex-Royal Marine commando and seasoned endurance sport expert Donnie Campbell. No stranger to the Scottish wilderness, Campbell broke the record for the fastest self-propelled round (run, walk, cycle or kayak) of all 282 Scottish Munros in 2020, taking an entire week off the previous record by completing the round in just under 32 days, and he retains a soft spot for this Perthshire event. “It’s a spectacular spot for an endurance race – the weather and the light are constantly changing and the hills are accessible to most people, unlike, say, the Alps or the Himalayas, where you might need mountaineering experience.”

For the second year running, May’s event was held in partnership with Scotland-based outdoors brand Meander, which – as well as fielding its own team – provided each competitor with a piece from its versatile range of sustainable, functional clothing, as well as prizes for the triumphant team. As the dust settles on this year’s event, all those eager to follow in Campbell’s footsteps are invited to register their interest for next year’s event. Taking place over a full weekend, the Great Adventure Race is open to pairs, whether male, female or mixed, with plenty of time before and after the Saturday race to meet fellow adventurers, replenish calories in the Strathearn restaurant and soothe tired muscles in Gleneagles first-class wellness facilities.

Register your interest for the 2024 Great Adventure Race via email at

Donnie Campbell’s
Great Adventure Race Diary

We hear from a seasoned pro on how Gleneagles’ Great Adventure Race weekend typically unfolds



“As a professional athlete, this race forms a great training day for me between other events so I don’t tend to train too much. Yet other people might have been training for up to six months in advance and that’s what’s great about this event – it attracts all levels, including many people new to adventure racing.”



“With all competitors staying at Gleneagles, there’s a great chance to meet like-minded people before the event. For me, it’s important to be early to bed and try to get a good night’s sleep, accepting the fact that no one sleeps well before a race as nerves kick in. If you accept that you’re not the only one not getting a good night’s sleep, it means that you’re a bit more relaxed about only getting about four or five hours sleep.”



“I like to stick with routine so I’ll get up and have a typical pre-race breakfast in The Strathearn restaurant – some nice bread, some almond butter and jam and a cup of tea – an hour and a half or so before, and then I’ll get my kit ready for the race.”


“Each aspect has its own challenges and all are accompanied by beautiful scenery. The run is probably the nicest part, taking you over Ben Vorlich and out into the valleys below. The canoe part on Loch Earn is interesting as not many people race Canadian canoes – you feel like you put in a lot of energy without going very fast. Then the cycle element takes you along single-track roads back into Gleneagles. This part is very quick – at the faster end of the race you’re working hard because, at only 35 kilometres, it’s a shorter distance than other events, which might include an all day cycle.”



“There’s a really nice spread of cakes, which is certainly a highlight of the weekend – they are absolutely superb. And you don’t often get champagne at the finish line with adventure racing, which is really quite special!”


“With any adventure race it’s nice to get the perspectives of those who have also done it, so spending Saturday night sharing each other’s experiences and getting to know your fellow competitors is really enjoyable. Personally, I like to celebrate with a nice glass of red wine.”



“Sundays at Gleneagles are really nice and relaxed. It’s great to unwind before getting on the road so I make the most of the facilities at Gleneagles, using the pool and sauna and going for a wander around the grounds before enjoying the evening meal.”