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Training for the Highland Cross - A busy mum's journey to the finish line

Tuesday, June 7, 2016 : 9:27 PM

We met up for a chat with Fishboxer Sarah Riddle, a busy mum and business owner training for the Highland Cross this June…

So what is the Highland Cross?

High on the mark list as one of the top fundraising athletic events in the Highlands - The Highland Cross is a 20 mile run across hilly terrain followed by a gruelling 30 miles by bike. Basically, it makes a flat city marathon look like a walk in the park. Participants – who need to apply a year in advance- with no guarantee of a secured place, do so to raise money for local medical and social services in the Highlands. So far the Highland Cross has gifted an amazing £4.1m+ to local charities in the past 33 years! Some of the charities who have benefited from the fundraising are: The Highland Hospice, Birchwood Highland, The Archie Foundation, Blythswood Care, Cairngorm Mountain Rescue, the Highland Cycle Ability Centre and so many more very worthwhile charities!

The event attracts teams from all over the world and those lucky enough to get an entry must compete in teams of three, so with 265 teams in total only 795 people are able to enter each year. Here at Fishbox we have a close relationship with the Highland Cross, our founder and director Magnus has proudly crossed the finishing line!

Magnus Houston finishing the Highland Cross

Magnus making his way across the finishing line!

Taking part for the second time is Fishboxer and mum of two; Sarah Riddle!

Sarah has worked in the seafood industry for over 15 years and along with her husband Greg, currently runs Northern Light Consulting. Sarah, who’s mum to seven-year-old Lucy and five-year-old Angus, loves her Fishbox delivery as it helps to keep her fridge stocked with fresh, healthy fish while she is busy training for the Highland Cross.

Sarah's family receives a Small Fishbox, Fortnightly of fresh, Scottish seafood goodies! 

One of the many reasons Sarah loves Fishbox is that her children are able to learn where their fish has come from, teaching them valuable lessons in seasonality and healthy eating which stands them in good stead for their adult lives.

“My wee guys have known fish all their days. I think it’s really important that they know where their food comes from. Fishbox gives you variety and I love that we can make a fish cake together or coat our fish in breadcrumbs, it's great that they can see how their food is prepared.”


Sarah celebrating with Lucy and Angus at the Loch Ness Marathon

Have you always been a runner?

“I've been a runner for seven years, I can be that specific because my daughter is to blame! I was always a bit of a gym freak, but after she was born I couldn't fit gym time in around looking after her and I was going a bit crazy! So I just started running from my house, I would literally run one minute and then walk one minute and it just slowly built up from there.”

"I never thought I’d run and now I’ve completed 3 marathons, loads of half marathons and 10ks."

Sarah first entered the Highland Cross when Greg decided one year that he wasn't going to take part, so she took his place and absolutely loved it.


A sunny Highland Cross in full swing circa 1989

The Highland Cross is a tough but extremely rewarding experience and Sarah thinks that’s largely due to the people involved:

"It's hard, but the people are the most compelling thing. Everything goes back to local communities, all the people there supporting you are volunteering, giving up their time, they’re camping overnight on the hill! Because there are walkers and runners, there is great interaction. I was chatting to this older woman on the bus to the start line and this was her 18th year, I was like a total newbie! Age was no barrier."

The Highland Cross is a very social event, which means you can even make life-long friends! Sarah got chatting to Darren while having some tea and tablet before the last 7 miles. They stayed in contact and now he is on her team this year. Darren was Scottish Slimmer’s Winner of the Year and has inspired so many people. He also is now a Jog Scotland coach.

Still smiling! Sarah on the Coast to Coast out of Fort William


For Sarah, fish is the perfect refuel, a light and nutritious source of protein which is quick and easy to cook. Not only is Sarah a fab Fishbox customer but she is also helping with the food technology side of our business, so she really knows her stuff!!


Why do you choose Fishbox over other fish suppliers?

 “Choice, freshness and knowledge. Fishbox fits ideally into our family life and ensures quality, freshness and a wealth of seafood knowledge which you can trust."


 A freshly delivered Fishbox. Scallops are a favourite in the Riddle household!

So your whole family a seafood fans! What advice could you give to parents wanting to get their family eating more seafood?

‘I think sometimes it is our own barriers, the parent’s barriers. The number one concern parents have is bones, and number two is having a tiny repertoire of recipes. That then rubs off on the children. But it doesn't have to be like that, Fishbox’s fillets are always fully pin boned and they have so many great recipes which they send out in every Fishbox to get inspiration from.’

Any tips for getting kids excited about seafood?

Sarah advises introducing seafood as early as possible because kids are much less picky with food when they're young:

“My children and I think all children are rubbish at chewing their food, but fish is so easy for them to eat. It can be so different, eaten on a stick or coated in panko crumbs, fish can be so varied. My kids will always pick fish over chicken or red meat. My advice is to never stop trying and experimenting, just play with your food!"

What’s your favourite seafood dish?

"Rock turbot from Fishbox. I’d never eaten rock turbot before and it was just fantastic, everybody in the house loved it, the kids maybe a bit too much as they were trying to eat some off my plate! It was exceptional for me, really stood out. We just poached it and placed it over some ratatouille with loads of veg.”

We have a delicious recipe for Blackened Rock Turbot also know as Catfish

Sarah believes that keeping it simple is the best way to eat fish:

“I've been exposed to some cracking chefs, all of them say fish is the hero so you don’t need to over complicate it. Sushi for me is the food of Gods, but I don’t really like the rice now, so I eat a lot of sashimi. When I've got a craving for protein after training I just want to eat something fresh which isn't too heavy. You don’t want something processed and that’s why fish is perfect.”


What advice would you give to busy mums or anyone wanting to take up running or a more active lifestyle?

“My advice to anyone interested in taking up running is that everyone can do it! You've got to start somewhere. No runner will ever knock somebody who is just starting to run. People think they’re going to look foolish but it doesn't matter, just start. There’s tons of advice out there, Couch to 5k for example is a great source of advice for new runners.”

Sarah running the Edinburgh Marathon

Sarah’s a big believer in getting up early to fit exercise into family life, saying, “You can always fit it in, not having time is the number one excuse…I'm a morning runner, so I get up like a little assassin at 6am and then I make my porridge which has been left overnight and sit quietly so I don’t wake anybody before starting my run!”

Run, cycle or walk!

“For me it is a lifestyle, it’s not a quick fix. You will definitely see the impact of running, but only when you commit to it. I run every day, I'm addicted, I know I am, but it doesn't have to be running it can be cycling or walking, as long as you’re not sitting!”


Sarah finished the Edinburgh Marathon, where she broke the 4 hour mark!!

Sarah will take part in the Highland Cross next Saturday 18th June, and hopes to complete the 50 miles course in under 5 hours! You can sponsor her at - JustGiving


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