“Inaction weighs heavy on the shoulders of restless men and women.”
There’s an innate decency in every person that has supported the Fei Sheehy Challenge. The walkers, those that registered but couldn’t make it, the crew on the ground, the product/prize sponsors, those that donated and sponsored walkers, and everyone else who provided assistance in making the event happen. It’s a great testament to the Titans and Titanides of the hillwalking community.
At the end of the day, it’s a fundraiser and we’re doing it for someone else.
I could write paragraphs on the weather over the three days, but we defied it without incident and that’s what matters.
What I will say is that, the forecast was ‘Monsoonish’. Friday granted us an armada of cloud with the odd ‘cannon’ fire of rain but all agreed that it could have been worse. Saturday was a day that you’d find in an Antarctic explorers log book and it was ferociously difficult to plant the toes of the rear foot in front of the advanced heels on Galtybeg. Sunday was a ‘pleasant’ day, considering what went before.
It really was a baptism of fire for those that were new to the event and the toughest year yet for the regulars. Everyone had the fitness levels and navigational ability to get the job done safely. The weather dictated that walking in a group was logical and who better to follow on the Comeragh’s than a man that’s on first name terms with all the peat hags.
The Club challenge trophy was retained by Peaks Mountaineering Club Clonmel but I’ve seen a FB post where a firm gauntlet has been thrown down by another club to stop the treble. Could the All-Ireland Hillwalking Club title be heading to Dublin? Could they both be ambushed by another club?
The energy and chat in Ballyporeen, after three tough days, was something to behold. You’d think that folk would be anxious to get away after getting drowned on the mountains, but no.
What better way to end the event than to have a feast of sandwiches, bracks, tarts, queen cakes, jam & cream sponge, coffee cake, bowls of chocolate ( all washed down with tea or coffee ) and a chat about this challenge and what one they’re doing next. There’s a common bond amongst all these people; it’s an absolute love of hillwalking.
Pat Beardmore, Pavel Madar Bodi, David Browne, Patrick Dennis, Kevin Finn, Ian Fitzgerald, Steven Forde, Sean Freeman, Patrick Harraghy, Michael Kearney, Justin Kelleher, David Kiely, Noreen McCarthy, Gerry McVeigh, Michael Moroney, Josephine O’Brien, Mary O’Connell, Bridie O’Connor, Ronan O’Connor, Kevin O’Donnell, Pat O’Loan, Muiris O’Suilleabhain, Bart O’Sullivan, Ken Quinlivan, Michael Rea, Billy Sheehan, Gerard Sheehy and Mark Vesey.
Sign-In/Sign-Out, Stand-By and Catering
Margo, Martha, Tom, Pat, Nuala, Eimear, Kate.
Awards Ceremony Presenter
14 did 3 days
5 did 2 days
9 did 1 day.
10 Participants were new to the event
6 did 3 days
1 did 2 days
3 did 1 day.
Peaks Mountaineering Club had 3 that did 3 days, 2 that did 2 days and 2 that did 1 day.
2 participants did the treble in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
It's not too late to help with a donation. You can do so by clicking 'The Money Part' tab, above.
Less than a month to go before registration closes and the organisation is going well. I just said I'd bring you up to date with the following:
If you didn't qualify for Rio this year, perhaps you might like to set your sights on the the Fei Sheehy Challenge in August by joining other hill walking 'Olympians' on the Comeragh, Galty and Knockmealdown Mountains. You can choose to do one, two or three days of the fundraising challenge, depending on your fitness level.
To be fair, you have a better chance of collecting a medal at our event, as all you have to do is get from A to B and 1st, 2nd's or 3rd's are irrelevant. Of course, there is the small matter of navigating a bit of distance and height gain in between, but that should be no problem to a good hill walker like you. The closing day of the Rio Olympics coincides with the last day of the challenge.
There's also the 'Club Challenge' to consider. It's just a matter of a group of like minded walkers, within a club, getting together and declaring an interest in the event, in advance. Last year, Peaks Mountaineering Club carried off the title and trophy after putting in the work before and during the event. Rumour has it that they're recruiting an even bigger group, from the ranks of their 'A' and 'B' walkers to assist with retaining the crown.
If distance/accommodation are a major impediment to a club taking part in the 'Club Challenge' then they should contact me. If there is a demand, we should be able to accommodate some home-stays with other hill walkers in the area. A small donation towards the fundraising would be fair for this type of service, I think.
Registration is now open and numbers are limited. There are no refunds but the registration fee will go to the nominated charities if you can't make it. Come the opening day of the Olympics proper on the 5th August you'll be just brimming with fitness and energy and looking for a release outlet. By then it will be too late to register so commit early and keep it in focus.
A total of €8,633.33 was raised by the event so each of the five charities will receive €1,726.67.
Well done to all those who registered, participated, fund raised, sponsored products, donated and assisted with the smooth organisation and running of the event.
The following is the text of a piece Gerry McVeigh wrote for the Mountain Views website.
Surely that is for those slightly deranged individuals who try to push one or two days walking into a few hours and enjoy pain and discomfort. There is no way a leisurely walker like me who can see a video or photo opportunity every few metres would attempt such outrageous events......
Three splendid days with wonderful people on magnificent mountains
4What makes an event? The people do, everything else is secondary. Their spirit, humour, enthusiasm and the way they look at life. The Comeragh, Galty and Knockmealdown Mountains were alive with said qualities over the weekend.
There were some exceptional personal achievements by walkers; surpassing anything they’ve done on the hills to date, by a country mile. The fatigue and soreness of the body was dismissed immediately after the event as talk turned to next year.
Some walkers had really done their homework on route choice this year. It was brilliant to see the lines that they were taking, watching and learning from these. No matter how many times you’d look at the map beforehand, you only see the logic of a route on the ground.
The weather was unrehearsed and like Mr. Gump’s box of chocolates. The 10 day forecast was more accurate than the 24 hour one. But, it doesn’t matter to seasoned hill walkers as they just dress for what the elements throw at them and curse the weight of the ‘heavy’ coat etc. when the rain doesn’t come.
A massive ‘Thanks!!’ to everyone that supported the event. They’re just too numerous to mention individually and the risk of leaving someone out is too high. As I said last year, if I communicated with you about the challenge you helped me. It was a huge effort by everyone involved. It’ll be another two weeks before I have a final figure on the fundraising and I’ll keep you posted on that. Thanks for taking sponsorship cards, donating and thanks to those who sponsored walkers.
Hats off to the members of the Peaks Mountaineering Club in Clonmel for embracing the Club Challenge. They registered, took their chances, put the work in and walked as a united club. I think Ken Quinlivan gave a masterclass in leadership and pace setting. I’ll tell you this, it’ll be fair difficult to pry that trophy from his hands next year.
I often think about whether Fei would have liked the hill walking; I think she would. And, I especially think she would have loved the people.
Pat Beardmore, Pavel Bodi, David Browne, Carmel Carey, William Carey, Kevin Finn, Steven Forde, Sean Freeman, Angela Hennessy, Enda Lynch, Noreen McCarthy, Ray McConnell, Martin McKenzie, Gerry McVeigh, Daniel Mills, Josephine O’Brien, John O’Connell, Mary O’Connell, Bridie O’Connor, Muiris O’Suilleabhain, Michelle O’Sullivan, Andy Owens, Ken Quinlivan, Michael Rea, Pat Ring, Billy Sheehan, Gerard Sheehy and William Smyth.
Sign-In/Sign-Out and Stand-By
Margo Kelly, Martha Beardmore, Nuala O’Connell, Eimear Power, Tom Lyons, Michael Desmond, Pat Fahey, Kevin O’Donnell.
Event Mascot (and official Club Challenge trophy presenter) - Lian Sheehy
“Winning isn't about finishing in first place. It isn't about beating the others. It is about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations, and your fears. Winning means surpassing yourself and turning your dreams into reality.”
15 did 3 days
5 did 2 days
9 did 1 day.
16 Participants were new to the event
7 did 3 days
2 did 2 days
7 did 1 day.
Peaks Mountaineering Club had 5 that did 3 days and 2 that did 2 days.
7 participants did the treble in 2014 and 2015.
There’s just over two weeks to go and participants have received the itinerary and general information on the challenge.
56 walkers have registered (up from 42 in 2014) and hopefully the weather will be kind to us. I mean, it can’t continue to be as bad as it has been, right?
The counties of Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Cork, Down, Dublin, Clare, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Monaghan, Tipperary, Waterford & Wicklow will be represented. Over 60% of those registered for this years event are new to the challenge.
I look forward to meeting you all over the three.
‘On sleepy hallowed heathered ground; the walkers come to visit
They hold no fear of ascent or length, nothing shall inhibit.
They’ve travelled from all over; to cross three mountain ranges
To them it’s all about the walk, the people and exchanges.
Some committed early; determined not to waver
The thought of three days back-to-back, was something new to savour.
The challenge walkers come out in force; to them it’s another test
The single day event is grand; three days requires one’s best.
A little girl inspired this walk; as brave as brave can be
It’s only fitting that monies raised; are gifted to charity.
Comeragh, Galty, Knockmealdown; are our challenge mountains
We’ll drink a toast on day three, to our healthy lives from fountains.
If you think our sport is about prestige; and of your rivals besting
It’s not you know, it’s simple as; deliberate self-testing.
Come Sunday evening in Ballyporeen; a stranger might enquire
“What’s with all the energy and buzz? How come you are all not dead tired?” ‘