A very simple question but I am afraid that I don’t have a simple answer. I am not superhuman. I am not an athlete. I am no better or no worse than anyone else. We all have it within us to do remarkable things but most of the time we choose the easy path, the safer option, the known quantity.
My name is Niall Iain Macdonald, I am 39 years old and I live and work in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis, in the Western Isles of Scotland. Although I was brought up on the mainland, in Inverness, I have very strong island connections as my father is from Skye and my mother was from Barra and South Uist. I have been based here in the islands for the past 10 years working in Gaelic radio and television, the majority of the time for the BBC but I now work on a Freelance basis.
A few years ago I reached a very low point in my life but, with the help and support of family, friends and various health services, I managed to overcome my problems. This caused me to re-evaluate what is important to me and recognise just how precious our time in this world really is. Since then I have tried to use my own experience to get people to talk more openly about mental health and show them that there is help and that they are not alone. In addition, I feel strongly about highlighting the families and friends of those who suffer as they also have a lot to deal with and are often a forgotten voice. I have also been inspired to challenge myself in ways that I would never previously have considered.
In 2008, I successfully rowed 46 miles across the Minch, a treacherous stretch of sea between the Outer Hebrides and the Scottish mainland. This inspired me to try something more challenging, and the idea of rowing from New York to Stornoway, the equivalent of rowing across the Minch 70 times, has never left me.
In 2009 I cycled from Copenhagen to St.Petersburg and then north across the Arctic Circle. After that I spent 2 months sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, from Europe to the very southernmost point of mainland South America, as part of the crew on a tall ship. I then got back on 2 wheels and spent several months on my bicycle exploring remote parts of Chile and Argentina.
And now I find myself preparing for the biggest, toughest and most exciting challenge yet.