“The sun may have blessed us all day, the staff were as friendly as ever, but the stiff challenge of the Maamturks remained as tough as ever “ – 2017 participant
The weather on the western seaboard can be mixed at the best of times, but the 42nd Maamturks Challenge will undoubtedly be remembered for it’s fantastic weather conditions. Clear skies and sunshine greeted participants as they drove west on Friday afternoon for the evening pre – registration in Keanes of Maam on Friday night. Many walkers were checked in ahead of the early start the following day. Now in it’s third year, pre – registration of over 180 participants went very smoothly with many participants anxious to get some valued sleep before the early 4am start.
Unfortunately our volunteers were not as fortunate when it came to an early bedtime, with a last safety briefing to all volunteers on Friday night at 10pm. 44 volunteers staffed this year events, 12 alumni and 32 current students. Volunteers were housed in the homely An Óige Ben Lettery Youth Hostel, which catered for all our needs throughout the weekend.
Clear skies and a perfect weather forecast meant participants were rearing to go by the official 5am start, with walkers assembling at the base of Corcóg between Maam Cross and Maam. Heavy cloud lay low on the mountains for the first few hours and slowed walkers and volunteers alike on the hills. It cleared over the next few hours, and the sunshine and warm temperatures kept spirits high for the rest of the day.
The walk continued long into the day, and 15 hours later, the last walkers arrived in Leenane just after 8pm. Tired and sunburned volunteers packed up and returned to the hostel in Ben Lettery, while many of the walkers stayed in Leenane for a well earned rest after the Challenge.
A special thanks must be said to the Galway Radio Experimenters Club who provided flawless communication for the event as always and to Galway Mountain Rescue Team, who stood watch all day.
The Maamturks Challenge is considered one of the hardest tests of endurance in Ireland, and is run entirely by students of NUI Galway for the benefit of the local communities of Maam and Leenane. In it’s 42nd year, the event has stood the test of time.