After heavy rainfall overnight, the morning of the 43rd Maamturks Challenge brightened up nicely. However, the swift rolling clouds and mist proved challenging for navigation in the early stages of the day. Weather conditions cleared up towards the afternoon and the rain held off for our fortunate participants and volunteers alike.
Express registration was held in Joe Keane’s of Maam on Friday the 13th April from 18:30 – 20:30, where 159 participants attended to confirm their respective registration details. This enabled a more efficient take-off on the Saturday morning, where NUI Galway Mountaineering Club volunteers were up from 04:00 to get the event up and running. At 06:00 on the morning of the 14th April, 224 registered participants, drawing from members of the public took to the hills. Out of these 224 participants, 188 people successfully completed their personal challenge of traversing the Maamturks range, with an 84% completion rate.
In a change to this year’s event, participants commenced the hike at 06:00, a later start. Notably, the cut-off times at Loch Mhám Ochóige (14:00) and the Col of Despondency (17:00) remained the same. This enabled pacey navigational skills to come to the fore. Two participants turned back on Corcóg due to low lying cloud, 19 came down at Finish 1 in the German Valley and a further 15 escaped out at Finish 2 in Tullyconnor.
The first mountaineer arrived in Leenane at 11:59 and the last was not accounted for until after 19:49. Participants were welcomed down to jubilant support from family and friends, nourished by the refreshments of Leenane Hotel and home baking from NUI Galway Mountaineering Club volunteers.
As with every year, it certainly was a long and rewarding day for all of the 42 students, staff, alumni volunteers and Galway Radio Experimenters Club (GREC) volunteers. There were no major incidents of any kind to prolong that day even further. Many thanks are extended to the Galway Mountain Rescue Team who were training in the vicinity for the day.
Photos from the event can be viewed at the following link https://flic.kr/s/aHsmjbYSW8