DEBRA Ireland’s Kerry Challenge involves three days of trekking through the beautiful, challenging Dingle Peninsula (20-25km per day). The adventure runs from May 22 – 24 and everyone from first time ramblers to seasoned hikers can take part.
We chatted to a few participants to find out why they keep coming back every year to take part in the Kerry Challenge.
When I was asked to take part in the Kerry Challenge 7 years ago by my husband Mark who had taken part the year before, I was very nervous and unsure of the whole Challenge….3 Half Marathons in 3 days over the Kerry mountains!! Was he crazy??
I was not a hiker and certainly wasn’t in great shape at the time and to be honest I really didn’t know much about the condition EB. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete the Challenge but I didn’t want to let anyone down as so many people had sponsored me.
When we arrived at the Skellig Hotel in Dingle the night before the first challenge the only way I could describe the atmosphere was like arriving at a family reunion. People greeting each other that have been taking part for numerous years, I could instantly feel the closeness and friendliness, I knew I was in safe hands.
The first hike for me was so tough having never climbed mountains before , but I managed to get through it, legs aching and the thoughts of having to repeat it the next day was daunting.
That first night I had the pleasure and honour of meeting Emma Fogarty DEBRA Ireland Patient Ambassador and Liz Collins, Family Patient Ambassador and to hear their stories of how each and every day is such a struggle living with EB. Such wonderful and brave women – I swore I’d never complain about the pain in my legs again. My pain will go, sadly they must live with it every day.
This year will be my seventh year doing the Kerry Challenge. It’s become a family event for us now, with not only myself and my husband taking part, my brothers, my daughter’s and close friends are now joining us too.
I will never forget that first morning – there was so much fun and camaraderie. The friend who came with me couldn’t continue but I got chatting to so many different people en route that it didn’t matter, and the craic that night was even better.
Helen who didn’t own a pair of walking boots before taking on her first Kerry Challenge is now coming back for her fifth year and bringing four friends with her.
My wife, three sons and my sister-in-law have all taken part and we meet new people every year. Everyone walks at a different pace so you’ve great opportunities to chat along the way.
Eamon and his friends, Limerick men Joe Carrig, Pat Toomey and Mike Histon, have taken on Debra’s Kerry Mountain Challenge for the past 14 years and raised over €150,000 for the charity.