9.20 am and we’re all ready to set off – the weather looks ominous as the clouds look like they could open up at any minute! There’s a group of about a dozen of us setting off. All determined to complete the 30km of trail ahead of us. Some more than others, as one of the group had a bit of a late one last night & turned up for the trek having had just 3 hours sleep! This could be interesting!
We set off through Marlay Park and everyone is in great spirits, I can hear cries of “are we there yet?” from the messers at the front! Back packs full with fluid, food and extra clothing in case the weather changes. It’s about 2km before we reach the back entrance of Marlay Park, out the gate and we turn right down towards the M50 flyover. Once we get through the flyover we start our 1st climb of the day and it’s going to be a long one. About 5 minutes into the climb and the chat between the group has somewhat receeded. A clear sign that people are working the legs. We’re still on the road at this point and the road just keeps getting steeper and steeper…… We finally reach the 1st ridge and it begins to level off. I can see the relief on people’s faces!
We take a short stop and take on some fluids – some people start swapping clothing for jackets they were carrying in their bags – it’s very hot clambering up the hills! First hurdle over – we’ve about 1km before we start the next climb. The view from this point is stunning. The city is so close yet so far at the same time. Most of the group get the cameras out & discuss what they would normally be doing on a Saturday morning – taking in the view of the four walls of their bedroom!
We hit the 2nd climb and manage about 400metres before we actually take another short break, again fluids, but this time we all grab a quick snack. Important to keep the calorie intake going on such a long trek – it’s going to be over 5 hours before we finish. We push on and the climb just keeps going, one step in front of the next, with groans from a few! We finally reach a point where it levels off and the view of the city is superb – we start spotting the landmarks of the city – the Aviva Stadium, the Convention Centre glistening in the sun & the mass of green space over to the far left that we identify as Phoenix Park. One of the gang commented that the sea & view of Howth could have just as easily been somewhere in the Carribean! Maybe the exercise made her halucinate! But it was breathtaking. The Sun has come out and it’s perfect weather conditions for trekking.
The top of 3 Rock – we sit down and relax for a few minutes and take it all in. The view out to Howth is spectacular and the sea is reflecting the sun.
We soon begin our 3rd climb of the day and move up to the very top of 3 rock mountain. We reach the highest point of our trek and turn right and move completely off road – beautiful rolling hills and forest-covered mountains either side of us – civilisation suddenly feels much more out of reach, which is actually a nice feeling. The surface is tricky underfoot and you need to watch every step. The group is in good shape and we’re moving briskly.
We can now see into Wicklow from the back of 3 Rock. It’s just a stunning view. Plenty of smiles all round as we grab a few snaps. Next stop is the Fairycastle.
We’re now nearing the Halfway point and everyone looks in good shape. We reach the Fairycastle. We look over our shoulders and we can see the TV masts on the 3 Rock where we’ve just come from. It’s quite a trail.
It’s mainly downhill now and we’re moving at speed. No-one is showing any signs of fatigue at this point. We reach the back entrance of Cruagh Wood and decide to stop for lunch. We’re caught in a sun trap and I can feel my face burning from the Sun. The sandwiches are out along with some well deserved chocolate. We’re a little over half way now. A small climb ahead, viewpoint and then down to the Hell Fire club.
We come out of Cruagh Wood and move towards viewpoint. It’s road for a few Kilometres now. We get to viewpoint and there’s some much needed refreshment sought from the local Ice Cream Van! It’s the one time I saw one or two members almost jog! We gather for a quick photo, most of the ice creams are gone by the time the camera has been taken out. The smiles tell a story – people are enjoying themselves.
Down towards the Hell Fire club we go. It’s about 1km down and we move into the left and begin the last and final climd of the Challenge. This is where it begins to hurt. It’s a nasty climb. People begin to feel it. Eimear and Krista pick up big branches in the hope that they can use them as walking sticks to help them up the ascent, but it turns out it just added to the weight they were carrying up the hill, so they were quickly disgarded! Eimear looked in pain, but to be fair, she was out until 4am! A true legend….. We all reach the top and sit down and enjoy the view. The group checks out the Hell Fire club from the inside and out.
We take in the view from all angles of the Hell Fire club, seeing where we’ve come from and where we need to go. It’s all downhill now to Marlay Park. Not one person looks like they’ve just been walking for 5 hours.
The road down is windy but we’re moving a pace. It’s not long before we’re passing Mt Venus cemetary and soon after we’re walking in the back of Marlay Park!
We can all smell the finish at this stage. We finish up at the main house and just in front of another ice cream van! We’ve done it – the Fit Head Challenge 2012 is complete.
Smiles all round, Mr Fit hands out the finisher medals along with the t-shirts. One final photo of the group is needed before the day is complete. 🙂
Well done to everyone who took on and finished the Fit Head Challenge 2012 (30km Trek).