Death of young cyclist leads dad and friend on epic journey
British Youth Champion Ben Forsyth, 20, of Musselburgh, died after developing a heart condition.
The father and best friend of a young cyclist who lost his life are taking on an epic endurance challenge in his memory.
Keith Forsyth, 50, and Hamish Carrick, 22, of East Lothian, have embarked on their own version of the National Three Peaks challenge in memory of Keith's son Ben Forsyth who died suddenly at the age of 20 after being diagnosed with a heart condition.
The gruelling journey will see them climb the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales while cycling every mile in between.
It involves 23 miles of walking and over 440 miles of cycling - and the duo are aiming to complete it in under 48 hours.
The challenge is set to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).
"I couldn't have asked for a better son", said Keith.
"He was fantastic. Not just a son, but my best mate.
"We did a lot together. We rode bikes together, raced in teams together, if I wasn't in the pits supporting him, he was in the pits supporting me at races.
"We just had a really special bond."
'He was fantastic. Not just a son, but my best mate.'Keith Forsyth
Hamish added: "I started riding bikes with Ben years ago.
"I always remember riding in the Lammermuir Hills on these savage, crazy, wintry rides and just going through it together.
"From that it just snowballed into this really good friendship.
"He was really supportive and we were always there for each other, egging each other on and getting a bit competitive up the hills.
"But he was also such a laugh. I just can't think of a time when he wasn't smiling.
"He was always bubbly and fun to be around."
Ben, who studied geography at Edinburgh University, was a British Youth Champion cyclist who had won multiple Scottish titles and a British title during his career.
After a screening in 2013 he was diagnosed with an irregularity in his heart.
Two years later he was forced to give up racing after an MRI scan revealed he had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) - a progressive and incurable disease of the heart muscles.
Through the challenge, Keith and Hamish are hoping to raise enough money to enable CRY to hold a cardiac screening open to the public.
'We go to the dentist every six months, we go to the optician every two years - so why don't we get our hearts checked more regularly?'Keith Forsyth
Keith said: "Screenings are a life-saving opportunity for people to have their hearts checked.
"Twelve young people in the UK die every week of a sudden cardiac death.
"We go to the dentist every six months, we go to the optician every two years - so why don't we get our hearts checked more regularly?
"Especially for young, sporty people. If you're pushing yourself to the limit, you need to know that your heart is safe to do that."
Beginning their challenge at 3.30am on Friday, by 6.15am Keith and Hamish had bagged Mount Snowdon and were heading towards the Scafell Pike in the Lake District on two wheels.
Talking about the challenge, Hamish said: "We had a friend run the West Highland Way last year - which I thought was kind of nuts.
"It got me thinking - what else is kind of nuts?
"I did some research and found the Three Peaks Challenge. And then I thought 'we like riding bikes - so let's ride bikes between them'."
With the rain pouring down and hundreds of miles still to cycle, Hamish admitted he initially found the scale of the challenge daunting.
He said: "I did find it scary, but now that we're here it feels good.
"We know why we're doing it and I'll have that in my head the whole time.
"Raising money for CRY and for more cardiac screenings - that's what we're doing it for."
Keith added: "After losing Ben, it's been a year from hell, really.
"But we really want to turn a negative into a positive and raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young.
"The support from Ben's friends and family has been phenomenal and for every £5000 raised for Ben's memorial fund, I can organise another CRY screening day".