Five well known Donegal Lads in the adventure racing world in Ireland, left the Donegal Coast over 10 days ago to take part in the world’s longest running multi-sports event – Coast to Coast New Zealand.
Arthur McMahon (Milford), Managing Director Donegal Oil Company and Founder of Donegal Oil Foundation, Boyd Robinson (Letterkenny), Gerard Callaghan (Letterkenny), Shaun Stewart (Creeslough), George Kelly (Downings) along with two well known crew members Rory Kennedy (Letterkenny) and Padrag McGinty (Downings) took part in the toughest race in the world last weekend.
They took part as individuals in the event and each of them undertook a 3 kilometre run, a 55 kilometre cycle, a 30.5 kilometre mountain run, a 17 kilometre cycle, an 800 metre run (gravel), a 70 kilometre kayak in the Waimakariri River and a final 70 kilometre cycle, totalling 243 kilometres.
The race started on the West Coast, at Kumara beach and traverses the width of the South Island, crossing the main divide where participants reached over 1000 metres above sea level, before dropping down into the braided Waimakariri River, onto the finish line on the East coast at Christchurch’s New Brighton Beach.
Shaun Stewart competed the longest one day event in the elite category and finished in a time of 13 hours 52 minutes and five seconds. Boyd Robinson finished the 2 days event in 17 hours, 55 minutes and two seconds.
Gerard Callaghan retired from the river on safety grounds. He made the decision to pull the boat out of the water as he felt he had not enough experience on that type of fast moving water. “There’s a point where you have to limit the risk to yourself and other safety personnel on the day, I wasn’t prepared to put other people in a compromised position and I knew I hadn’t enough experience after an hour on the river.” commented Gerard.
Arthur McMahon retired on the mountain as he knew that it was the right decision to make. “It was certainly a dangerous race, we knew that from the start, and even though we had completed some of the course on our training days, race day was different. My own personal safety had to come first. And I am so proud of the team that travelled here to do this event as “Team Donegal Oil Ireland” they gave it everything they could and I am thankful that we all got back safe.” says Arthur.
George Kelly also retired from the river stage saying, “When I got into the water I knew that the water was moving at such a fast flow that, even though I wanted to complete it so badly to get to the next stage, I knew 70km in this river might not be safe. I gave it my best and knew that it was just too dangerous to continue.”
The welcome they received from the Donegal and Irish community in New Zealand was amazing. The diaspora there helped and supported the boys in every way possible to settle in and encouraged them to the end.
Arthur McMahon commented, “We would like to extend our sincere thanks to our two crew team members, Rory Kennedy and Padraig McGinty, the organisers of this event, the Donegal and Irish Diaspora in New Zealand, our families, our friends, our work colleagues and to absolutely everyone who supported us in any way and donated to our chosen charity, Relay For Life Donegal.”
“The entire trip is sponsored and fully funded, so when we discussed as a team what charity we would like to raise some funds for, we knew it had to be for a cause that was close to all our hearts and local so, we choose Relay for Life Donegal. Each one of us has had a family member or friend affected by Cancer and we have the utmost admiration for the hard working team who every year organise an event at the Atlantic Technological University Donegal in memory of those that we have lost and to support the survivors and those that are still battling cancer. Every single cent raised by us will go directly to the Relay for Life Donegal Charity.” concludes Arthur.