Thursday, April 18, 2013

Report on 38th Annual Maamturks Challenge 2013

Picture by Tim Leahy in 2007

On Saturday 13th April 28 members of the Club participated in the Annual Maamturks Challenge.  Completion times varied from 10 hours upwards but in truth this year it was all about the personal challenge from the perspective of fitness and navigation due to the atrocious weather from Maumahoge onwards.   For all the first timers(13) it really was a tough initiation after a few years of very pleasant weather – and, it can only get better.   Many clubs are amazed we have so many walkers of this standard but it does not just happen overnight. Much planning went into this challenge and we must thank the various leaders, the likes of Victor, Pat, Tom, Imelda, Julie, Michael, David, Ger, John & Dec etc who organised many walks aimed specifically at the event.  So take a well deserved bow.  All the walkers went into serious training over the past few months to achieve these levels of fitness.  As mention, we had 28 members participating and all finished.  The organisers reported 187 registerd walkers started with 134 finishing.
Bishopstown had almost 21% of the finishers – fantastic going. 

In no particular order our walkers were:
Declan O’Connor
Trish O’Connor
Deirdre O’Connell
Marie O’Brien
Imelda McSweeney
Kevin Finn
Catherine Duggan
Sharon Godfrey
Louise O’Leary
Eleanor O’Leary
Michael Henchion
Tom McCarthy
Colin Sweetman
Aiden O’Driscoll
Tommy McGreevy
John Hallissey
Mary Walsh
Pat McCarthy
David Clayton
Victor Hurley
Josephine Falvey
Michael Carey
Jerry Foley
Dermot O’Reilly
Pat O’Dwyer
Joanne Humphries
Harry Dillane
Tony Frawley

The majority of us stayed in the Leenane Hotel, an excellent base for the walk. And what service, with full breakfast available from 3.45am onwards Saturday morning.  The hotel is located immediately across the road from the finish so hot showers, baths may be had immediately – a great reward.  Excellent group meal and a few drinks Saturday night after we had all  cleaned up.

What of the Challenge itself: a tale of two halves
With a weather forecast promising some very nasty wind, rain and mist after noon we decided to strike off as early as we could with most getting going around the 5.30am mark.  The forecasters got it right with clear skies and a breeze to our backs as with head torches alight we struck off in the dark into a climb of over 500 meters to Corcog, (609m) followed by a quick decent of over 200 meters to be followed by another 240 meters up to Mullagh Glas.  By now you new it was a challenge.  And this is what the Maamturks is all about, with and steep ascents followed by as many steep decents.  Continuing on, we reached Maumean (St Patricks Well) in around 3 hours.  Ever conscious of the weather we skipped the usual stop and continued up to Binn Chaonaigh for our first real break.  From here it is a good stretch all the way to Maum Ochoige, which is approx. half way in distance and over 60% of climbing.  Onwards we climbed towards Maum Ean and we were starting to think of times at this stage but as forecast the weather had other ideas and soon we were met with gale force winds, rain and thick mist – from here on navigation became the order of the day and as luck would have it most of the Bishopstown walkers came together and it was like the usual club walk – not planned but a nice surprise.  We and a number of others trekked our way to the Col of Despondency, (at one stage I reckon there were at least 40 walkers in single file moving along pied piper style.)  Our final break before the final climb up Leenane Hill, nothing special on a regular walk but after about 9 hours it can hurt and this year it was waiting for us, as it were, with very severe south easterly gales all the way to the top.  Indeed, many walkers were bowled over on this climb.  Thankfully, from the top the wind was to our backs and the rain eased off and the descent to the finish in Leenane village was relatively easy. 

Suffice to say that after a couple of nice years the Maamtuks reputation of being one of if the toughest walk on the walking calendar has been reinstated.  Will we be back in 2014 – lets wait and see!!

Comments on the Walk: Whilst I understand that NUIG Monutaineering Club do this on a voluntary basis there are some issues which they might consider.  The walkers also put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the Challenge also.
  1. Registration – despite arriving at 5am it was after 5.30am before we got going due to a very slow moving queue.  As the majority of people pre-registered perhaps the Walk Cards could be sent out beforehand with walkers being punched in at the start.
  2. Start – Walkers would appreciate being bused to the start as happens with most of the linear National walks.  Leenane would benefit also as walkers would be more inclined to stay in the vicinity overnight providing much needed income for the local hostelries.  
I have tracked down some links from the day which you may find of interest.

There are very few photos available but a small slide show taken in the early stages are available here:

Some thoughts and comments from the day