THE Speyside Kiltwalk pushed those taking part to the limit.
However, all along the scenic route, the charity walkers were given emotional reminders of why they were taking part.
Pictures and messages from young children battling serious conditions were posted on trees, fences, gates and elswhere.
"You are amazing – keep going" was just one of the poignant messages to the 750 taking part in either the 26-mile Kiltwalk, 16-mile Half Kilt or the 10k Wee Walk.
The images provided the inspiration for the walkers to carry their aching bodies over the finish line in Aberlour.
Carey McEvoy, founder and chief executive of the Kiltwalk, said that the inspiration for the messages came from Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow, one of the charities to benefit from the Kiltwalk events.
"Yorkhill had a load of them as people were walking into the hospital. It was such a lovely idea, and we do that with all the walks now," he said.
The Speyside walk is set to help the Kiltwalk smash the £1 million mark for the year, with two more walks still to come in Aberdeen and Deeside, and Angus, before the end of September.
All of the 750 taking part were raising money for the Kiltwalk’s national charities and their own local causes.
And Carey revealed before the start of Sunday’s event that the local partner charity in 2014 will be the Aila Coull Foundation.
Set up by Elgin couple Sine and Fraser Coull following the death of their daughter last year from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), the charity has so far raised £100,000 for research into the condition and to support other families.
There were 45 ‘Aila’s Amblers’ taking part on Sunday, along with big teams from two other Moray children’s charity’s, Keane’s Stars and Logan’s Fund.
Carey said the participation of those teams summed up the ethos of the Kiltwalk.
"They have made a massive difference to the Kiltwalk; it is the teams that have done that. We didn’t anticipate that four or five years ago; we thought it would be individuals and some corporate teams, but to have teams of parents and family taking part is what the Kiltwalk is all about."
Sine and Fraser were both helping on Sunday as volunteers, and were at the finishing line in Aberlour to greet people.
"It’s been fantastic, and everybody seems to have had a really good day," said Sine, "and most people are smiling when they come over the finish line.
"To be announced as the partner charity for next year is amazing. Carey only told me about 10 minutes before he announced it. The Kiltwalk have been behind us 100% from the beginning, and if it wasn’t for the Kiltwalk, we probably wouldn’t be doing what we are doing.
"When Aila went into hospital, my sister and I had already signed up for it last year, but obviously I couldn’t do it, and Kirsty then got a team of 25 together and they raised £25,000 while Aila was being treated.
"Once we saw that people were taking Aila’s story to heart, we realised we could raise money for AML. The Speyside Kiltwalk was the thing that started us off, and will always be special to us. The Kiltwalk has such a great ethos."
More pictures from the event in 'The Northern Scot' print version - out now.