Finally, the day has arrived. Mountain Rescue personnel and volunteers are already on the move, setting up checkpoints, marking routes, testing comms, and many other last minutes jobs before midnight tonight, when 200 hardy souls will leave from Dublin Castle to follow the route taken by Art O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell when they escaped from the castle in 1592.
The 55km route of the Art O’Neill Challenge (AON) takes participants through the streets of Dublin, into the Dublin Mountains, finishing in Barravore car park in the Glenmalure Valley in Wicklow sometime between 6am and 3pm on Saturday. Ultras will run the whole distance, hybrids will run to checkpoint one, then walk the mountain section. Hikers will walk the entire route, with many being guided by experienced Mountain Rescue team members and volunteers once they reach the mountains.
It is tough, arduous, punishing, but ultimately an amazing experience. When the participants finish in Barravore, it is not hard to describe how they will feel. Happy to be finished? Yes. Cold, tired and hungry? No doubt. Proud? Absolutely! Ready for a well-earned burger, and maybe a pint for some? Show me the way to the bar!
Is this race for everyone?
Probably not, but we do believe that everyone can build up to being ready to take on this challenge. Our other two events, Run The Line (RTL) and Walk The Line (WTL) are the perfect way to develop your fitness and your experience in the mountains, and perhaps prepare you to undertake a race recognised as a serious challenge by Outsider Magazine in their post on ‘6 of the Best Night Hikes in Ireland in 2019’, Check out number 1 and 2!
If you want to know more about any of these three events run by Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team, please check out our dedicated event websites (links below), or speak to any team member. We really appreciate your support and work tirelessly to ensure that these events are an incredible experience for all participants, whether taking your first steps in the mountains on WTL, going for a record time on RTL, or proving you are one of those hardy souls on AON. Good luck to all who are taking the challenge tonight and tomorrow, and we look forward to seeing more of you out on the hills in 2019!