The 30th of August 2015 is a date I’ll never forget as long as I live… the Miles for Emma 4 peak Challenge was our second event to promote Equality and awareness for Children with Special Needs and unlike the last time it was an early start with a 4:45am alarm call to be on the road for 5:30am. The drive from Ballinasloe to Westport was filled with anticipation, nervousness, determination… basically a host of emotions…
We arrived at the foot of the Mountain for 7:30am where I was greeted by those who had arrived before us and was quickly followed by a host of other climbers and even at that early hour we had a strong contingent with over 24 climbers… 3 were already on the mountain having started at 6am and were soon to be followed by the Official first wave at 8am…
The first ascent was an enjoyable experience the fact it was such a beautiful morning… spirits were high and with a group of first time climbers in tow you could feel the excitement in the air… and even though there is nothing easy about climbing Croagh Patrick… We all reached the summit in good time and good form where even a little bit of Hurling was enjoyed with a sliotar or two been driven off the Mountain… you never know it might bring us a bit of Luck next Sunday…
The first descent was one of mixed styles with some of us throwing all caution to the wind and running down while a few others took the safer option of correct foot placement.We landed back in the Car park just in time to welcome our latest arrivals which included a group from the Ballinasloe Cycle club who had just completed the 130km trip from Ballinasloe to climb the reek and would have the return cycle on completion of their climb… our next arrivals was our first Bus load form Ballinasloe which was organised by Tommie Costello of Cuckoo hill at this stage now our numbers were starting to swell and a sea of Purple was starting to emerge at the foot of the mountain.
After a half an hour break and a few photos we started off on our second ascent joined by our latest editions… By now we had both adults and kids climbing side by side all decked out in Purple and it was starting to look very impressive as the colour purple could be seen quite evidently on the Mountain as each group climbed at their own pace… The weather turned a small bit on the second climb but it was short lived and was not our biggest discomfort as we were unfortunately joined by another group on the mountain “midges” they couldn’t take the hint that they weren’t welcome and seemed to be waiting in the first section of the climb ready to hijack climbers on both there ascent and descent… But never the less that didn’t stop us…On our way down off the top for a second time we would be met by our second Bus load on the way up… The Scarriff Foroige group who travelled the whole way from Co. Clare to Support Miles for Emma we also met a load of other supporters who had decided on a later start time. This included Grannie, Maeve and Co who had cycled up the day before in preparation for Sunday.
As we entered the car park for a second time the task in hand was starting to take its toll… for some the adventure was over with either one of two climbs under there belts they called it a day in saying that it was still and unbelievable achievement in its own right… But for some of us it was time to prep and get ready to face the mountain for a 3rd time… as I nursed a blister on my right foot I have to say I questioned my own sanity but as I’ve said so many times when it comes to events that ship left the port years ago… as I sat in my car fuelling the body for what I believed would be my last ascent I felt a real sense of achievement… not at what I had done thus far but the event as a whole…
I have to say seeing all those T-shirts on the mountain made me feel so proud and with the reaction we were receiving from fellow climbers who showed a real genuine interest in what we were doing proved we had in some way got our message of Equality and Awareness for Children with Special needs out there…
This was what got me to my feet and pushed me towards those infamous steps that lead to the Statue of St Patrick where on this occasion I actually gave the big man a Thumbs up as I Passed… I don’t know why maybe it was a subconscious request for the strength to get up and down again in one piece… I didn’t push this time stopping to chat with all my fellow Miles for Emma Climbers on their way down and anyone else who showed interest in what we were doing… Once I reached the top of the first section which I would just like to highlight was the one section I hated the most… a second breath kicked in and was flying it again… at this point I came across the Stone writings where Sinead, Eoin and Daithi had climbed down to write Miles 4 Emma in rocks… I won’t lie… Very emotional..!!
I pushed on meeting a multitude of Purple decked out climbers all delighted to have been on the mountain all delight to do their bit to help promote our cause...!! On reaching the Summit for the 3rd time I met up with Aiden Morrissey who would be the first person to climb the reek 4 times… after a photo or two with Aiden he would enjoy his final descent with his little niece Matilda… I did my normal run down meeting a few late arrivals who were climbing for the first time and our 6am starters Emma and her crew who were on their 4th and final ascent…
I won’t lie that on my way down that 3rd time I did contemplate turning and going back up and as I popped from rock to stone I had a quite lively debate about the pros and cons of going back up in my head… But I knew I was Tired and that the blister on my foot would just make it twice as uncomfortable and I also had the mindset that if anything went wrong it would have ruined everything and I didn’t want to take the shine off the day so I decided to call it a day.. I convinced my self that the fact I had climbed the mountain last Thursday in my Miles for Emma T-shirt added to the 3 climbs on Sunday… that gave me 4…!! After eight and a half hours of which I had spent seven and a half on the Mountain I Stopped.
Over 140 Miles for Emma Supporters climbed Croagh Patrick On Sunday the 30th Of that total 6 completed the 4 climbs 4 completed 3 climbs 9 completed 2 climbs.We also had a host of individual who climbed the Mountain for the first Time…
One Word “SUCCESS”
I’ve collected a load of photos from our climbers and with our favourite photographer Kaisa whose album is available here, I hope you can all relive and enjoy what was in a word a SPECIAL day..!!
On behalf of Myself, Michelle, Claire and the Little Miss her self Emma..!!
Thank You… See you all at our next adventure..2016
Ken Campbell — at Croagh Patrick.
By Ken Campbell
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