Maamturks Challenge 2023 – Event Report

Maamturks Challenge 2023 – Sold Out
March 3, 2023
Maamturks Challenge 2023 – Sold Out
March 3, 2023
Club Volunteer on Leenane Hill Checkpoint

Club Volunteer on the Leenane Hill Checkpoint (📷 Cassia Blondelot)

  • "An excellent challenge, well organised and run by a brilliant group of people. Coimeád suas an obair maith."
  • "All this for a T-Shirt."
  • "The day starts hard, and gets harder as you go on..."
  • "Tis a fair bit of a walk."
  • "Can’t wait for next year!!!"
  • "We must be half mad, but the other half is only part mad, what's left is an exhilarating experience never quite matched anywhere."
  • "2 days after the event, other than the stiff legs, my abiding memory is the student volunteers at the checkpoints. They were amazing. I have 2 kids myself their age, and all I can say is to all the mammies and daddies of the Galway student volunteers - I hope you are very proud of them."
  • "This is tough. No matter how many pictures you look at, this is tougher than it looks, how many articles you read, this is tougher than it sounds."
  • "Power Up and Plough On."
  • "Friendly people at all the check points, thank you for organising another terrific event."
  • "Friendly and efficient, many thanks for a great day out."
  • "Great event. Thank you to all for a great day out. Made it to Col of Despondency in good time but no gas in the tank. Next year!"
  • "The MaamTurk Challenge - the trek that defines you."
  • "Best Challenge ever on good day. On a hard day, now you know why you wanted that training but still a great day and great sense of achievement. Roll on next year!"
  • "Tough, tough hike, but worth the pain."
  • "It was a really well organised event and a great day in the mountains. Well done and thank you to all involved!"
  • "Very friendly stewards. They were also very committed to their tasks. Well done all."

The 46th Maamturks Challenge took place on April 1st 2023, organised by the University of Galway Mountaineering Club’s members and with communication support from the Galway Radio Experimenter’s Club. The weekend kicked off at Joe Keane’s Pub in Maam, as is tradition at this point, with the doors for Pre-Registration opening at 18:30 the Friday Evening before. There was a great buzz of excitement in the air with much chatter amongst participants both inside and outside the pub as many shared their plans and tactics for the Challenge ahead. Keane’s kindly let the Club run Pre-Registration from 18:30 – 20:00 upstairs where 139 participants collected their Walk Cards & Tokens and had an opportunity to ask any last minute questions they may have had. Many also collected their bespoke burgundy Maamturks Challenge 2023 T-Shirt, which was designed by Isobel Reidy.

The next morning, 217 Walkers set off from 05:00 onwards with Club Captain Neil Dozio officially starting the Challenge with the Club’s zbugle. A trail of headtorches lit up the side of Corcóg, with the leaders of the pack greeting 4 of the Club’s Volunteers by 05:30. The morning was damp with the odd shower, it was windy up top but as the day went on, the rain lifted and visibility improved, which spurred on many of the participants.

With the last of the Walkers starting out on the Hill at 07:00, over 40 of the Club’s Student & Alumni Volunteers were at the same time making their way from Ben Lettery Hostel to each of the checkpoints along the route, with the aim to get up there before even the fastest of Participants. No sooner had they put their bags down at the Checkpoint, were they greeted with Walk Cards needing to be punched. Mám Éan had their first participants at 07:05 and the earliest arrivals at Finish 3 landed in at 11:04! The last mountaineers were checked in at 20:14 at Finish 3 which brought the Challenge to an end, with the Club’s Volunteers all safely off the Hill shortly after.

Of the 217 Participants who took on the Challenge, one called it just at the Start, 7 made their way down after Mám Éan, 13 descended to Finish 1 below Loch Mhám Ochóige, 12 had enough by the Col of Despondency (or Radiance 😊) and headed for Finish 2 and 10 others made alternative arrangements with Control to leave the Challenge. This resulted in 174 Participants successfully making it to Finish 3 and completing the Challenge, giving an 80.18% completion rate for the 2023 Challenge! Feedback collected after the Challenge from any tracking done on the day returned an average distance of 28.5 km and ~2650m of ascent.

Maam Community Centre was the base for Walk Control for the day, where radio communications were running from, tracking each participant as they went along the challenge. The Galway Radio Experimenter’s Club were in early establishing various communication links between Walk Control and each Finish point, ensuring smooth operations for the day ahead.

Finish 3 reverted back to Leenane Hotel this year, and as the Volunteers celebrated each Participants arrival, handing them their certificate & the refreshments on offer at the Hotel. Reaney’s of Galway operated the bus services for the weekend, dropping participants to the start at around 05:00 from Leenane & Maam Cross and then returning in the afternoon to shuttle drivers from Leenane Village back to their cars at the base of the Corcóg.

To the 47 Volunteers, most of whom are in either full-time education and took time out of their studies and our alumni who travelled from near and far to return to the Maamturks for a weekend, the volunteerism which is fostered throughout the year within the Club bloomed over the weekend and ensured this event could confidently go ahead.

It takes a great deal of organisation to run such a large-scale event each year and we are most grateful to the support we get from the Galway Radio Experimenters Club (GREC) who give of their time voluntarily and are key to communications on the day. Our thanks also to Keane’s Pub in Maam for allowing us to host Pre-Registration on the Friday Evening, Ben Lettery Hostel for hosting the Volunteers this year, Maam Community Centre for accommodating Walk Control, Snap for their printing, Leenane Hotel for hosting Finish 3 & the community of Leenane & Connemara in general without whose support this event would not be possible.

We would also like to highlight the Galway Mountain Rescue Team (GMRT) who are a voluntary team of highly skilled individuals providing a 112/999 emergency response service to the upland and remote areas. Knowing such a skilled team is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year should anything arise is something all mountain users should be grateful of. The Team gives us all the confidence to enjoy the outdoors, all year round.

From all of us at the University of Galway Mountaineering Club and the Maamturks Challenge Sub-Committee, we thank you for partaking in this year’s Challenge and remind you that the 47th Maamturks Challenge is only around the corner, so keep an eye out!

April 2023

  • 05:00Challenge Started

  • 05:30Corcóg

    First of the Participants made it Corcóg
  • 06:59Last Walkers Set-Off

  • 07:05Mám Éan

    Mám Éan had their first Walkers of the Day
  • 11:04First Arrivals @ Finish 3

  • 14:00Loch Mhám Ochóige Cut-Off

  • 17:00Col of Despondency Cut-Off

  • 20:14All Walkers off the Hill

Maamturks Challenge 2024 Registration OPENS Wednesday 14th February 2024 @ 19:00 LINK TO TITO REGISTRATION PAGE
Maamturks Challenge 2024 - CANCELLED due to Storm Kathleen (Orange Wind Warning) Link to Met Éireann