MODEL Nell McAndrew and commercial director of train operating company First TransPennine Express (FTPE) are celebrating after finishing in the top 20 in the First Monster Duathlon this weekend (Saturday 13 September).
Leading the First TransPennine Express team, Leeds born Nell McAndrew and FTPE commercial director, Leo Goodwin, saw off strong challenges from more than 200 other teams. Nell, who was the first celebrity to finish the challenge in 2007, lost out this year to athlete Liz McColgan's team.
Team McColgan was expected to win the battle of the celebrities and claim Nell McAndrew's 2007 title. Liz's team comfortably saw off Nell's challenge, but also came within three minutes of claiming first place outright in the 120km team relay duathlon around the shores of Loch Ness.
Despite the disappointment of relinquishing her celebrity crown, Nell's team finished a highly respectable 17th place and she was delighted with the overall time of six hours and 56 minutes, only five minutes worse than last year. "My team finished third outright in 2007, but there is a much bigger field this year. Added to which Liz and her team were untouchable!"
She added: "The most important element of the race was raising money for Save the Children - hopefully many thousands of pounds will have been raised. I thoroughly enjoyed the First Monster Challenge - it's very well organised with a great atmosphere. I hope to be back next year - I would love to try and get a little closer to Liz's time!"
The shores of Loch Ness played host to the 120k race where each competitor in teams of four ran roughly 10km and cycled 20km.
Leo Goodwin, commercial director of First TransPennine Express, joined Nell in her team of four. He said: "It was a brilliant day and I'm really pleased with our finish time, especially considering all the amazing athletes we were competing against. Most importantly we have raised a lot of money for a fantastic charity and had fun along the way."
The First Monster Challenge attracted some of the UK's fittest celebrities. Joining Nell McAndrew was Ben Fogle, Liz McColgan and Scottish rugby legend Gavin Hastings.
Organisers FirstGroup, the UK's largest bus and rail company, hailed the First Monster Challenge a resounding success with the event attracting around 200 teams.
"Monster 2007 was tremendous, but 2008 has surpassed our expectations. It has been a fantastic day," said Chief Executive of FirstGroup, Sir Moir Lockhead. "My congratulations go to each and every competitor. It is a very tough challenge, but everyone has risen to the occasion and dug deep - it's been a mammoth effort from everyone both from a physical and money raising perspective. We have had two teams from the army complete the course carrying a 15kg bergen and even one First employee from Aberdeen do his legs in a pair of pink bloomers! Although we have yet to calculate a grand total, thousands of pounds has been raised for Save the Children."
To access the results in full which includes details of the celebrities' times, log on to www.firstmonster.co.uk.