Shaun Watters, Ciaran Sheridan. Lorcan Fisher, Shane Murphy and Stephen O’Neill have set themselves the demanding challenge to raise funds for HUGG – the Irish charity that provides grief counselling to those who have lost loved ones to suicide.
“It all started two years ago with some mates taking part in the men’s walk and talk for mental health in Dundalk,” says Shaun. “We then started hiking in the Cooley peninsula and it grew from just a couple of lads to a group of over twenty going hiking in the summer months.”
“We decided that we wanted to do something a bit more challenging this year so we’re taking on a challenge that involves hiking to the top of four of the highest peaks in Ireland, one in each province, within 24 hours, and then a 42km marathon the following day.”
They are planning to begin the challenge at Leinster’s highest mountain, Lugnaquilla, Co Wicklow at 9pm on Friday April 26, then onto Carrauntoohill in Co Kerry, and Mweelrea in Co Mayo, before finishing up at Slieve Donard in Co Down.
“This will involve twelve hours of climbing and twelve hours of driving and there will be two night climbs,” says Shaun.
Then, after a good night’s sleep, they will run a marathon in Dundalk on Sunday April 28, with the aim of completing all within 48 hours.
They started training for the event in January, doing a mixture of cardio and strength training in the gym and weekly hikes in the Mourne mountains,
“Every Saturday or Sunday, the five of us go for a hike in Mournes and we are gradually increasing our distances week by week with the aim of building it up to 40km,” says Shaun. “As we will be doing two night climbs during the challenge, we are also training at night using head torches.”
They will have a support crew and driver as they travel across the country, thanks to the Dublin company D8 Fitness who have come on board to provide a van and back up for the weekend of the challange.
They are also inviting people to join them as they run a marathon and there will be options to run 5km or 10km for those who don’t want to do a full marathon.
Shaun says they are delighted with the support they have received so far as all funds go towards HUGG, a national suicide bereavement charity that offers direct support to families who have been bereaved by suicide.
“It’s a voluntary organisation set up by Fiona Twomey in 2017 that offers grief counselling and support to families who have been bereaved though suicide. They have a network of volunteers nationally who offer in-person and counselling by phone as well as support groups.”
They decided to chose this charity as so many people have been affected by suicide.