THE Managing Director of one of Scotland’s leading automotive retail groups is swapping horsepower for pedal power to raise funds for Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

Russell Smith, of the award-winning Phoenix Group which has Mitsubishi dealerships in Paisley and Stirling, is taking on the challenge of cycling the 516-mile North Coast 500 touring route. The task is even more impressive as Russell has never been a serious cyclist and has had to buy a bike especially for the challenge.

From October 4th, Russell will ride for five days straight to raise as much as possible for the charity, which helps ensure the best possible care for the 168,000 children from Scotland and beyond who are treated at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children each year.

He’ll be supported along the way by a Mitsubishi Shogun, the iconic four-wheel drive SUV being ideal for some of the more demanding terrain.

Starting and finishing at Inverness Castle, Russell, 47, will ride more than 103 miles a day with a total ascent of over 34,000 feet – more than eight times the height of Ben Nevis. To get in shape for the challenge, the father-of-four has spent nearly 200 hours in the saddle, covering nearly 3,000 miles and climbs totalling over 143,000 feet.

He said: “At Phoenix Mitsubishi we support a lot of our team and customers with their own challenges, but it was joked that I should follow by example, so that’s how I ended up taking the ride on. Before I started training I had no real level of fitness and a lot of my colleagues couldn’t believe I was considering it, as the only sport they knew me for was the odd round of golf!

“I’m quite ready for it, but it’ll be very tough, especially at the 70-mile point when you start the Bealach na Ba stretch that is the UK’s biggest road climb, but it’ll all be worth it if I can raise a good amount and we’re already at £1,500. My own family and those of Phoenix Mitsubishi staff have personally benefitted from the excellent care that Glasgow Children’s Hospital provides and they do a fantastic job.”

Updates on Russell’s training can be found on Phoenix Mitsubishi’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/PhoenixCar. To help him meet his fundraising total, people can donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/russell-smith26

Russell Smith - Phoenix Mitsubishi