From education to employment


An adventure-seeking Sports and Exercise Lecturer at Inverness College UHI will spend a month battling sub-zero temperatures and dodging polar bears as he prepares for the trek of a lifetime across the Greenland icecap. John Coogans and a team of ten, which includes Inverness College Forestry student Fraser Philip, will leave in August to trek 450 miles across some of the world’s harshest terrain.
The group are following in the footsteps of Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen who pioneered the route from the east to west coast. More people have successfully scaled Mount Everest than completed Nansen’s treacherous route, where potential dangers include meltwater, crevasses and encroaching on polar bear territory, as well as temperatures of around minus 40 degrees, with added windchill making it feel much colder.
Having been in the Territorial Army since 1990, 35 year old John, who is originally from Cupar in Fife and now lives in Inverness, has had his fair share of adventure training opportunities, including kayaking, yachting, skydiving, endurance marching and tobogganing the world famous Cresta Run in Switzerland. To prepare for this epic challenge, John and the team have spent time mountaineering and skiing in the Cairngorms, Norway and the Alps. John, who also works as aUK Strength and Conditioning Association-accredited coach for The Highland Institute of Sport and The Scottish Rugby Union, is studying for a Masters of Science in Strength and Conditioning at the University of Edinburgh and this trip allows him to study first-hand the environmental and physiological effects of ultra endurance events, which is part of his course.
John said: “Since joining the Sports Department at Inverness College I have been encouraged and supported in my professional development, which has allowed me to pursue a specific interest in strength and conditioning. The Nansen Expedition represents the opportunity of a lifetime. To be responsible for the physical preparation of the team is a challenge I’m eager to get to grips with and accompanying the team to Greenland and completing the route pioneered by F. Nansen will allow me to study the effects of my training programme beyond the restrictive confines of a laboratory. For me, this trip represents the ultimate in staff development.

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