Today is National Fitness Day - a chance to reflect on and raise awareness of the importance of exercise to our health and wellbeing.

Here in Ayrshire, we know a thing or two about keeping fit and encouraging positive, healthy habits in others, whether that be gym events or fundraising challenges that have people venturing from beach to shore and from mountain to hill.

For the day that's in it, we thought we'd look back on eight amazing fitness stories that have graced the pages of our weekly titles. You're sure to be exhausted just reading about them!

1. Kilwinning's Gareth smashes 66-mile hill challenge

Ayr Advertiser: Gareth Brown.Gareth Brown.

This month, North Ayrshire Athletics Club runner, Gareth Brown, took on one of the toughest hill challenges in the country - the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District - which only one out of three runners complete.

The 40-year-old smashed it, though, finishing the run in just under 22 hours.

The North Ayrshire Athletics Club runner took a team of eight supporters from Ayrshire and beyond to run beside him at each leg of the challenge.

2. Auchinleck mental health advocate climbs three peaks in three days 

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Robbie Muir, founder of Release Ayrshire, an online platform set up to provide confidential support and advice to men struggling with their mental health, climbed three Scottish mountains in just three days, helping to raise more than £1,000.

In August, after roughly 12 and a half hours of active walking, over 76,000 steps, 4,277 calories burned and 40km walked, Robbie and pals Scott McIntyre and Adam Gibson declared victory over Goatfell, Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis - an unbelievable feat.

3. Ayr mum launches Summer campaign to help parents get fit

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During the summer, an Ayr mum used her business 'Tribe Fitness' to inspire fellow parents, particularly mums, to get body confident.

Meche Shields has come through her own fitness journey. She followed Zumba DVDs at home as she was too embarrassed to start the gym.

Using her nine-year knowledge of the fitness industry, she launched the 'Beach Please' challenge so women could feel confident in their own skin while training at home.

4. Award-winning Irvine gym boss takes 11th place in gruelling mountain race

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Earlier this month, Europe’s toughest mud-racer, Scott Brown, managed to take 11th place in the world’s toughest mountain race.

Scott managed to complete the brutal Dragon’s Back Race – a multi-day running race across 385km of mountains from North to South Wales.

He said he never got off to the "best start" and "found it very tough in the heat" but still, he soldiered on. Some stamina!

5. Cumnock women climb Ben Nevis for Beautiful Inside & Out charity

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On July 10, Julie Steel, Claire Baird, Karen MacMurdo, Jackie Murphy, Shannon Hill and Ashley Johnston reached the peak of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain, to raise funds for Beautiful Inside & Out SCIO - a charity which supports bereaved parents and siblings of suicide victims.

Julie, who runs the 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan based in Miss K’s on Glaisnock Street, said hearing from many families who had received support from the charity inspired her to take her fitness training to the next level.

6. Troon volunteer driver cycles every day of 2021 for cancer charity

Ayr Advertiser:

A volunteer driver from Troon completed an Ayrshire to Beatson cycle challenge, raising a £1,145 for Ayrshire Cancer Support.

Bob Faulks cycled every day since January 1 to complete the equivalent of 150 journeys from his home to the Beatson, a total of 5,250 miles – which is further than Troon to Los Angeles in America – in 232 days. Sore legs all round!

7. Three Towns ladies hike up Ben Nevis for school kids

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Three women from Saltcoats and Ardrossan raised more than £2,000 for the new Additional Support Needs school in North Ayrshire last month by climbing Ben Nevis.

Megan Stewart, whose son attends Lockhart Campus, Nicole Murphy, whose brother is a pupil, and friend Michelle Cannon braved the ascent to help the school deliver the best learning.

Nicole is the owner of fitness business Murphy’s Warriors. For Megan, it was her first Munro.

8. Cumnock man to run London Marathon for ninth year in a row

Ayr Advertiser:

Derek Montgomery from Cumnock is gearing up to run his ninth (!) London Marathon.

The gym-goer averages in between 25 and 30 miles a week and aims for 1,200 miles a year. He's been doing that for 12 years since starting running as a serious hobby and says maintaining his fitness is essential as he sits for long hours during his job as a lorry driver.

He's planning to retire from the popular race after he gets to number 10.