It was on this day 50 years that JFK touched down in Dublin airport. As you all know to commemorate this, along with our own 25th birthday, some supporters recently took part in the Sneem JFK 50 Mile Challenge, Ring Of Kerry, Ireland. Read what Mairead and Gerard O’Donoghue had to say about it here.
It’s probably the hardest challenge I have ever undertaken. From the outset I had said to myself no matter what happens I’m going to finish. You can never really train for a 50 mile challenge but now that I’ve done it I know a few things I’d change for the next time. Going to the finish was difficult and very much mind over matter i.e. just let your brain tell your body what to do (not your mind!). When we all gathered together battered and bruised after the event we all agreed on one thing “No matter how bad we all feel now we’re going to be fine in a day or two Claudia & Emma have to suffer worse than this every day of their lives.
I started the challenge bright and early on Saturday morning with absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would finish the race; this was a mixture of confidence (silly me) and pride. The walk itself did not present too many challenges until about 28 miles. We took out first break at Pat Spillanes Bar. I had a good stretch, changed socks and sat for a moment to enjoy some food. The rhythm was well and truely lost and we both struggled to get back into our stride.
Again we were OK until about 35 miles and at that point it really started to hurt! However, we remained distracted talking to other walkers, such wonderful and interesting people on the same journey as us for entirely different reasons.
At this point people became sparse, there was 500m between me and the person in front and the person behind and I really found myself getting a little emotional. Richie and Jimmy on the phone telling me stories, bus loads of tourists driving past, cheering and waving; volunteers running alongside me giving me water and food and ensuring that I didn’t stop for fear I wouldn’t get going again…it was just so lovely.
With about 5 miles to go, my hero Mags, owner of Mace Sneem stopped and took all our bags etc, she was so kind to us, smiling, amazingly supportive and motivational. With about a mile and a half to go, Dad and I got some overwhelming sense of determination, we picked up the pace, laughed, joked, ranted a little as we turned every turn in the road and still could not see the beautiful town of Sneem…..
Finally we turned the last corner, saw droves of people waving Kerry flags, cheering and cars blaring music to welcome us over the finish line….it was fantastic! After an outstanding massage from the volunteers from Parknasilla Spa, I hobbled to the local pub to meet the rest of the team for some refreshment.
We talked briefly about the aches and pains of course but, we were more so saddened by the fact that in a day or two we would be completely fine, that we had chosen this fleeting pain, but that others like Emma and Claudia don’t know a moment without this pain in life.
Emma, sent us a wonderful text, even offering some tips and care advice for our pathetic wounds……she is a gas woman! All in all a life experience I will never forget and one I would endure again, if I can beat my time of 14hrs 27minutes!