Teenage Scout Leader Jonathon Miller will experience a challenge with a difference this weekend as he becomes the first registered blind person to take part in the Rat Race Urban Adventure in the heart of Edinburgh's city centre, one of the most eagerly anticipated and thrilling events in the capital's summer calendar.
Jonathon, 18, has entered the race as part of a team of Scout Leaders from the 162nd Blackford Scout Group in Edinburgh, to raise funds to allow the Group to take 20 young Scouts to a summer camp in Switzerland next year.
The Rat Race is a multi-disciplined urban sports challenge that turns Edinburgh's city centre into a high-adrenaline adventure playground. Elite adventure racers, adrenaline junkies and amateur sporting enthusiasts compete in pairs and teams of three, tackling an ever-changing mix of navigation, endurance, mental agility, running, climbing, mountain biking, kayaking and abseiling, combined with surreal sporting tests and challenges at different checkpoints right across the city and further afield.
Jonathon Miller said: 'I'm really excited about taking part in the Rat Race. It'll help with a lot of different things; fundraising for the Scout Group as well as raising awareness of visual impairment and the Royal Blind School Campaign. Being the first registered blind person to do the challenge will be a great personal achievement as well.'
Glasgow-born Jonathon had previously been involved in a Disabled Scout Group in Glasgow before joining the 162nd Blackford Scouts after moving to Edinburgh to complete his secondary education at the Royal Blind School.
Jonathon added: 'It was great because at the Scouts I could integrate properly with other young people, make friends and most of all be treated with respect. The Leaders were also really open to me joining the Group and taking part, regardless of my disability, and set me on the path to becoming a Scout Leader. I can relax and enjoy myself at the Scouts – they offer me great opportunities and can give me that little bit of help when I need it.'
Janet Philps, one of the other Leaders taking part in the Rat Race in a team with Jonathon, said: 'Jonathan has never let his disability affect his involvement with Scouts – he has been camping with us and taken part in plenty of adventurous activities – so we asked if he would like to join the team for the Rat Race. A blind person rat racing seemed so improbable that it was a challenge that couldn't be turned down! It's very positive and his involvement with the Group has definitely changed some of the young people's ideas about what a disability is.'
Jonathon and his team mates will be taking part in Saturday's 'Mean Streets' event; billed as 'the team running event with bite', a fast, furious hunt for checkpoint challenges scattered all over the city centre and open to anyone with a pair of trainers and a sense of humour. Rats are expected to run or walk up to 10km (or further if they are real racing Rats) in about two and a half hours.
Rat Racers can also go for Sunday's 'Nine2Five' adventure, offering a full day's worth of biking, abseiling, kayaking, climbing, navigation and mystery challenges city-wide ('Rat Traps'). By the end of the day rats will have cycled up to 50km and have completed an array of amazing activities, in about eight hours. Or, for the ultimate urban adventure and the most popular format; athletes can compete in the legendary Rat Race 'Weekender' – both the Mean Streets and Nine2Five action.
To enter a team and for more information on the Edinburgh Rat Race go to: www.ratraceadventure.com or call 0845 009 4365.
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Notes to editors:
o Adventure is at the core of Scouting. In the UK, Members can enjoy more than 200 activities including zorbing, water skiing, abseiling and adventure glider flights.
o The Association passionately believes in helping their members fulfil their full physical, intellectual social and spiritual potentials by working in teams, learning by doing and thinking for themselves.
o Scouting is the largest co-educational youth Movement in the country.
o This year, Scottish Scouting experienced its biggest growth in membership since 1957. There are now 6836 adult and 31,800 youth members across Scotland, forming 577 Scout Groups.
o One of the challenges that the Scout Movement faces is finding more volunteers to plug the current gap. At present there are more than 33,000 young people on waiting lists throughout the UK, including 2157 in Scotland.
o Worldwide Scouting has 28 million members both male and female and operates in nearly every country in the world.
o People interested in volunteering can sign up at www.scouts.org.uk/join.
THE EDINBURGH RAT RACE – RACE FORMAT:
Saturday 17 and Sunday 118 July 2010
The City of Edinburgh and beyond. Start and Finish – The Rat Race Adventure Village, The Ross Bandstand, West Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
Choose from Saturday's 'Mean Streets;' billed as 'the team running event with bite', a fast, furious hunt for checkpoint challenges scattered all over the city centre and open to anyone with a pair of trainers and a sense of humour. Rats are expected to run or walk up to 10km (or further if they are real racing Rats). You do as much or as little as you like as you cruise around the streets. 2.5 hours.
Go for Sunday's 'Nine2Five' adventure, offering a full day's worth of biking, abseiling, kayaking, climbing, navigation and mystery challenges city-wide ('Rat Traps'). By the end of the day rats will have cycled up to 50km and have completed an array of amazing activities. 8 hours.
Or, for the ultimate urban adventure and the most popular format; compete in the legendary Rat Race 'Weekender' – both the Mean Streets and Nine2Five action.
Mean Streets – £35/head
Nine2Five – £69/head
Weekender – £99/head