Bravehearts endure ‘Hell and Back’ to boost Hospice funds

February 3, 2014

While many of us were enjoying our Sunday relaxing, dozens of local bravehearts spent yesterday pushing their body to the limits enduring what is termed ‘Ireland’s toughest physical and mental endurance challenge’, all in aid of Southern Area Hospice Services.

Almost sixty men and women from Crossmaglen and the surrounding area made the journey to Bray, Co. Wicklow to take on the Hell and Back Trojan challenge.

The idea for such an event was spawned several months ago by Crossmaglen man and part-time firefighter, Gerard Murray, when he and a number of his friends decided to sign up for the demanding feat, held three times annually.

Initially there were just four willing to take on the challenge, but having shared his plan on Facebook, Gerard was inundated with friends and acquaintances all wanting to get involved.  And yesterday 54 brave souls spent their day tackling the grueling 10km cross-country course.

A national weather warning for snow and freezing temperatures did little to deter the plucky participants from enduring miles of muck and tough terrain to complete the course.  Obstacles including the fear-inducing named ‘Satan’s Pit’, ‘Shock of Horrors’ and ‘Barbed Wire Crawl’ give some indication to us lesser mortals just how punishing this challenge is.

Preparing for the event was far from easy and involved hours of rigorous training involving distance running and strength-building workouts, Gerard explained.

Having trained in small groups or individually in the gym, the group occasionally got together for intensive workouts – including training on the beach at Gyle’s Quay’s during a recent torrential storm.

When asked what he personally hoped to achieve by taking part, Gerard was noncommittal: “Just to do it,” he said, adding “and for a bit of craic!”

His only concern was the cold, having been told by people who previously have taken part that enduring the cold is “horrendous”, and the weekend’s arctic conditions would not have helped.

“But there’s nothing much we can do about that, when you’re wet, you’re wet, so we’ll just have to suffer it and do our best”, he said.

Having spent many hours in preparation, Gerard says they are all confident of completing the course and plan to ‘enjoy the craic along the way’.

Many of the group had sponsor cards circulating, having chosen the Hospice as the beneficiary of their fundraising efforts, and are appreciative of all donations received and pledged.

Reports late last night confirmed that all 54 contestants successfully completed the course, battered and bruised but elated.