Mid Ulster Walking Club's Sperrin Challenge on Saturday 28th May 2011 The first ever Sperrin Challenge took place on Saturday 28th May. The Sperrin Challenge is a long distance trek across the High Sperrins from Castledamph Road near Plumbridge to Derrynoyd Lane, Moneyneena. Charis Cancer Care was the nominated charity for this event. There were 3 events on offer. Walkers could opt for the full distance of approx 20 miles, or half the distance from The County Rock to Derrynoyd Lane. Several walkers wanted to include the two highest peaks of Dart & Sawel in their trek, so decided to start at Castledamph Road and finish at The County Rock. One lady from Navan whose ambition it is to climb the highest peak in each county and had every intention of stopping at the County Rock, decided to keep on going to the Finish. "I met some really memorable people, complete strangers who helped me finish the course. What a great day", she said. There was also a mountain race on offer for that hardy breed known as a fell runner, over the full distance. First runner home was East Antrim Harrier, Billy Reed in a time of 3 hours 42 minutes & 56 seconds. Hot on his heels was local man Steven Linton from Draperstown in 3:43:01. Third man home was veteran runner Jim Patterson from Newcastle in 4:03:21. In the ladies section, local lady Violet Linton, wife of Steven, went one step better in winning the ladies section in a time of 5:16:15. In joint 2nd place, both in a time of 6:14:33 were Susan Carson from Newcastle and Ruth Francis from Downpatrick. Susan is a member of Lagan Valley Orienteers, and Ruth is a member of East Down AC. Speaking after the event Violet Linton said: "I just wanted to thank you for a superb race at the weekend. It was very well organised, and the route markers were a great help, especially when the hail was hammering down at one point. It was great to get out onto hills I've not had access to before, really lovely to bounce across and the water at the half way point was much needed, and appreciated. Well done and hopefully word will get out that this is a really good race and next year we will see a lot more runners." The walkers were amazed at the sight of the runners blitzing their way through the course " I am so in awe of those mountain runners, they are just amazing. There I was logging myself out of bog holes and they were literally gliding over the surface." said Odelle McGreal from Carrickmacross. Some of the walkers were no slouches either. Indeed some of the runners were amazed to find themselves being beaten to the finish by "walkers" First walker home was Billy Orr from Londonderry in a time of 6:36:01. Billy is of course also a well known veteran runner with Foyle Valley AC. In 3rd spot we had another local man, Finbarr Mullin from Dungiven in a time of 7:09:15. Finbarr is a member of North West Mountaineering Club. Between them was Dublin Kian Clegg in a time of 6:46:23. Kian is a member of Dublin based "The Wayfarers Association" and one of the most experienced challenge walker on this island. The ladies were no slouches either with Hazel Calderwood, Pamela Ramsbottom and Pauline McCarthy all coming home in just over 7½ hours. Hazel is from Cloughmills & a member of Bannside Rambling. Pamela is from Stradbally Co. Laois. Pauline is from Dublin and a member of The Wayfarers Association. Fell Runner and recent mum Norma Rea from Belfast, and a member of BARF, left her baby in the care of her husband and set off to take part in the Half-Challenge. She set a blistering pace and was the first person back to The Derrynoid Centre in a time of 2:39:39. Irene Tweedale from Antrim waited at The County Rock for her daughter Mary to come through from the start with the intention of walking with her on the second part of the route. However Mary decided to opt out at The County Rock and Irene set off on her own to complete in a time of 4:13:42. Five local walkers set off together, and stayed together to come home in just over 5 hours. While for some participants, keeping an eye on the clock is a must, for most of the participants it is a case of getting out there, to see the views, to make new friends, and to enjoy the occasion. Said Colin Hegan from Newtownabbey: " I would just like to congratulate you on a wonderful event. It is great to hear you are considering holding it again next year. The organisation was exceptional and it was very obvious the amount of planning and work that went into this. You deserve a medal. Your team of volunteers can't be praised highly enough considering what conditions they had to endure but most of all the encouragement and help they gave to all the walkers. I had never hiked the Sperrins before and this event really showed what a jewel is on our doorstep without many of us knowing. I will certainly be back and am looking forward to next years event already and I will spread the word and get a few friends to join me. Well done." A total of 95 people came from all over Ireland to take part in this event, which is a wonderful achievement given the unseasonal bad weather we had to endure in the previous week and on the day itself. The participants were strong in their praise for the organisation that was put in to make this event a success, for the MUWC members and their friends who turned out on the day to help, and for the facilities at The Derrynoid Centre. For many people this was their first ever visit to the Sperrins, but from comments received, we expect that many of them will make return visits. MUWC would like to thank everyone who helped to make this event a success: the local landowners for their co-operation in allowing access to the Sperrins; the North West Mountain Rescue Team who provided emergency back up on the day, and thankfully was not needed; The Derrynoid Centre for the excellent facilities which they provided; Rodney Gallagher of Glenshane Coaches who provided the transport; charity walker Colin Conway from Newell Stores, Dungannon who provided sweets, and Rocwell Water who helped out with replenishing water supplies at the road crossings. MUWC would also like to thank their own members for all the effort that went in to the organisation of this event, and in turning out on the day; to local fell runner Jonathan McCloy & his colleagues who organised the Mountain Race part of the event; and to Jonathan's fiancee Seanin who was in charge of the computer chip management system. A particular word of thanks to Ita McCrory from Foyle Hillwalkers who so willingly offered her assistance on the day, and to Mags Mathieson from Dundonald. Mags had pre-entered for the Challenge, but due to injury was unable to take part. Instead she and her partner Max volunteered to help us out. Mags afterwards said: "I hope you have recovered from your spectacular event yesterday. I hope that everyone got back safely, and you managed to account for everyone. I didn't realise that this was the first one and must say once I found out I courted comments from the participants so that I could provide you with some feedback. You will be pleased to know that all comments were very positive and everyone I spoke to thought it was a very well organised event and loved the course. I was sorry that I was unable to participate yesterday, but was glad to have been there and be part of it. I met some lovely people there"
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"Sperrin Challenge Report - UTV Internet"Please download to view full document