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If you’re a nominee, consider yourself cordially invited to our annual awards ceremony on the evening of Wednesday 1 February 2023 in the Sugar Club, Dublin. We are thrilled skinny to announce that our fab sponsors are on board to help us celebrate all that is great and good about the Irish adventure scene, so it’s guaranteed to be a good party. Our hugely generous title sponsor is Sport Ireland. And our other supporting sponsors are #2MinuteBeachClean, #2MinuteStreetClean, Craghoppers, Leave No Trace, Hiiker, Salewa and Collen Construction.
For everyone else, a limited number of tickets are on sale here. Subscribe to our email newsletter on our homepage to hear more about the Outsider Awards 2022.
We were bowled over by both the quality and quantity of the stories you sent us. So sit down, make yourself comfortable and read the spine-tingling and inspirational stories of these extraordinary people who are now officially on the long list of nominees for the #OutsiderAwards.
Swim in Pink is a fundraising initiative that the National Breast Cancer Research Institute developed in association with Galway-based business, Blackrock Swimwear. October is breast cancer awareness month and to help highlight the need for research and help fund the charity the public are encouraged to take a swim, dip or splash for breast cancer research on the last weekend of the month to mark the end of breast cancer awareness month.
The event started in Galway at Ladies Beach in Blackrock, Salthill and has now grown to become a fun event for swim groups and individuals nationwide. This year was the second year of the fundraiser and raised €44,000 for the charity.
This brilliant initiative for such a good cause, which just happens to be great craic too channels money towards funding a comprehensive research programme at the University of Galway. This fantastic research has improved the diagnosis, treatment options and outcomes for those who develop the disease, and the charity aims to fund these research programmes to continue to impact the outcomes for those who develop breast cancer in the future.
The next outdoor public event is ‘Walk in Pink’ which takes place on Mother’s Day (Sunday, 19 March 2023). Participants will ‘Walk 7K on Mother’s Day’ to again support breast cancer research. Those who register get a free pink pom pom beanie hat.
See: Swim in Pink
One of Ireland’s leading festivals of trail running, the Eco Trail Wicklow, takes place in Bray annually in late September. A relatively new event, it was first held in 2019 and again in 2021 and 2022. There has been more than 3,800 entrants between the three events held so far.
Participants can choose from four different distances in the race—19 km, 30 km, 46 km and for the seriously fit, 80 km—so there’s something for all fitness levels. The event organisers are also looking into having a shorter race, which may be in the pipeline for 2023.
The event is held in partnership with Wicklow Tourism, which is committed to promoting the beautiful trails that abound in the ‘Garden County’. Those who enter get access to private trails within Killruddery, Belmont and Powerscourt estates ,and the routes are carefully chosen to utilise established trails and minimise environmental impact.
As the name might suggest, minimal waste is one of the event’s core values with no water refills and only minimal waste generation.
See: EcoTrail Wicklow
Run by Elite Event Management, Quest Lough Derg is the latest edition to the Quest Adventure series. The event takes place in September every year in Ballina/Killaloe on the shores of Lough Derg. Over 1,300 adventure racers participate, with a choice of three routes: 22 km Challenge, 45 km Sport and 69 km Expert, seeing participants run and cycle along country trails and kayak across Lough Derg, finishing with a run across a pontoon bridge spanning the River Shannon, built especially for the event.
In preparation for the first Quest Lough Derg in 2019, Elite Event Management came up with the idea to build the bridge when faced with the logistical challenge of moving participants safely across the water from Ballina to Killaloe. In their joint partnership with Waterways Ireland and Tipperary and Clare County Councils, Ireland’s biggest temporary pontoon over the Shannon was first constructed, the longest temporary bridge ever built in Ireland at 130 metres, and the first time a new bridge had been built in Killaloe in 300 years.
Elite Event management started in 2011 and held the first Quest adventure race series in 2012. Every year they donate approximately €150,000 to various charities through their official charity partners involved in their events.
See: Quest Adventure Series
53 Degrees North is an Irish-owned and operated company, set up almost 20 years ago. The company was created with the goal of sharing their passion for the outdoors with everyone. “There’s nowhere better than the outdoors, nowhere more fun and it is this sense of fun and adventure that we want to share with our community.”
The Adventure Club was set up in late 2021. Hiking events form the cornerstone of the Adventure Club, but they have branched out into different pursuits such as skiing, stand up paddleboarding and bushcraft, with a view to take on more in 2023.
Their 4 Peaks Challenge took on the highest peak in each province over the summer. It culminated with Ireland’s highest peak, Carrauntoohil, in September, where they had over 40 people from across the country travelling to Kerry for the event. Many opted to camp out the night before the hike. The 4 Peaks Challenge was just one of 18 events run by the Adventure Club in 2022, with over 750 people attending across the events.
“It was so lovely to see the mix of people that it brought together. From old to young, aid hikers to those that were just finding their feet in the outdoor lifestyle. That sense of inclusion, was very important to us, because the outdoors is for everybody.”
They are putting on even more events next year, which will touch on different outdoor sports and they have two overseas trips planned.
See: Adventure Club
Sport Hillwalking officially became a true sport in 2016 through the introduction of the first-ever All-Ireland hillwalking sports competition: the All-Ireland Highpointeering Individuals League. This ground-breaking points-based competition was delivered by High Point Ireland and has been run every year since. In 2017, they introduced the clubs, counties and provinces Highpointing Leagues.
The All-Ireland Mountain Race was created in 2020 for experienced challenge hillwalkers wishing to introduce a time-based person-versus-person competitive element. The Highpointeering Leagues and the Mountain Race ran in parallel as two separate competitions between the Spring Equinox and Autumn Equinox of 2020. At the end of the season, the combined results of these two competitions allowed the company to identify the individual, club team, county team and province team champions in the first-ever annual All-Ireland Hillwalking Championships—the ultimate achievement in Irish sport hillwalking. In 2022, the current competition format was introduced.
The All-Ireland Sports Competitions are the first-ever national hillwalking contests to be hosted anywhere in the world and they provide the perfect template for other countries to replicate. “In time, if other countries choose to follow our example, we could even look at the possibility of setting up the first-ever Hillwalking World Championships.”
High Point Ireland delivers all official hillwalking competitions at national level across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
See: High Point Ireland
Gaelforce’s Great Fjord swim took place in September in the sheltered, clean Atlantic waters of Killary Fjord, in Leenane, with Connemara’s majestic mountains soaring all around.
The swim offers three distances for all levels of open water swimming experience, beginner to pro, with wetsuit and non-wetsuit swimmers welcome in all distances.
Swimmers chose from 3.9 km, 2 km or 750 metres…finishing on the Killary shore. If you’re new to the sea swimming scene, then the 750 metre event is a great introduction to open water swimming racing.
For 2023, Gaelforce has introduced the Great Swim Trilogy which consists of a lake swim (Lough Derg), a river swim (in the River Shannon) and the fjord swim (Killary, Connemara). You can choose to do all three, or just one.
See: Gaelforce Events
Developed by Cara Sport Inclusion Ireland and supported by Sport Ireland Outdoors, Go All Out was an initiative to help increase awareness among people with disabilities, their families/carer and outdoor activity providers of the benefits of regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle, and opportunities to participate in physical activity outdoors.
Organisations and individuals were invited to host inclusive outdoor events nationwide during the week. The inaugural Go All Out Week was held from 18-24 July 2022. Some of the activities included hiking, walking, running, swimming, canoeing, cycling, fishing and gardening.
The event was developed to inspire people with disabilities and professionals working in the outdoor sector to understand the value and to see the opportunities that are available to them in their local communities. The week was also an opportunity for people with disabilities to understand the value of participation in the outdoors and how they can access the activities and amenities locally.
See: Go All Out
HER Outdoors week aims to celebrate and encourage more females to get out and enjoy the benefits of being in the outdoors while bringing visibility to the opportunities for females to get involved in outdoor physical activity.
The campaign aims to target females of all ages including females with a disability, females from diverse ethnic groups, older females, teenage girls, and females from disadvantaged areas.
HER Outdoors Week ran for the very first time in August 2021 and due to its success, it was delivered for a second consecutive year in August 2022. The event saw more than 385 events take place nationwide and over 7,000 females active across 7 days. Sport Ireland works closely with the Local Sports Partnership Network, the Outdoor National Governing Bodies of Sport, and a number of other organisations to facilitate and empower them to run events across the country for this campaign. Without their hard work, this campaign wouldn’t be where it is today!
Across this week, females have an opportunity to try new activities for the first time, including archery, rock climbing, kayaking, SUP, Cycling, and many more.
HER Outdoors week will take place from 14-20 August 2023.
See: HER Outdoors
The 11th Battle for the Lake Festival took place at the end of September this year. The unique festival marries water sports and music and takes place on Achill Island. How cool!
Every year, at the same windy time, water sports fanatics gather for the annual pilgrimage. Achill Island is one of the best places in the world for kitesurfing, but festival-goers can also join in stand up paddle boarding and windsurfing. As well as hitting the water, the festival offers music, entertainment, food and surprises, right in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way.
See: Battle for the Lake
With no wetsuits allowed, only the hardiest take on the annual Liffey Swim. Sponsored by Jones Engineering and running since 1920, the swim is the oldest continuously run annual swimming race in Europe. More than 500 swimmers of all ages, abilities and nationalities competed this year in the 2.2km swim in our capital. The 2022 female winner was Melissa Corbally in 47 minutes and 51 seconds and Ken Dent from Dublin Swimming Club won the men’s event in a time of 38 minutes.
See: The Liffey Swim
The Hardman Triathlon Wild Atlantic Way series is one of the best ways to experience Europe’s most scenic coastal route. Whether you’re looking for the instant hit of a sprint triathlon, the buzz of an Olympic tri, the thrill of a half, or the challenge of a full-distance triathlon, the Hardman series has an event for you. Set in the lush parkland and dramatic coastal areas of county Kerry, the series also has duathlons and runs ranging from 10 km to full marathons.
There were eight events this year—four triathlons, one duathlon and three running races. “The biggest event this year was the Valentia Island Triathlon, where 250 people competed. Generally though, all our races are around that number.”
The biggest event of the Hardman series, in terms of distance, is the Hardman itself. You start with the swim in the Lakes of Killarney (3.8 km) before cycling the full length of the legendary Ring of Kerry (180 km) with views that are out of this world. After all that, the full marathon takes you through Killarney National Park.
New to the series of events for 2023 is a 5- and 10 km run in Killarney National Park.
Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or like to cruise into the weekend with some mindfulness, there is something to suit all adventurers at the Wander Wild Festival in Killarney.
Some of the events of the festival include swimming at sunrise in a lake, climbing Carrauntoohil to see Ireland from its peak, biking, running, horse riding and kayaking. If your pace is more relaxed, you can do yoga, reflexology or one of the gorgeous loop walks around the area. There really is something for everyone with a jam-packed weekend schedule, all while experiencing the great outdoors.
It’s a great way to get away for a few days, be adventurous and take in the awesome area.
See: Wander Wild Festival
A fundraiser for the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team, the Art O’Neill Challenge is a commemorative event where runners and hikers retrace the steps of 3 Irishmen that escaped from prison in Dublin castle in the 1500s. The event sees 200 brave souls depart Dublin Castle in the city centre at midnight and travel 60km on foot to the Glenmalure Lodge deep in Co Wicklow. The event is split into a 25km road section followed by a further 30-35km of mountainside and forest tracks.
The event is completed by runners who race the route, hikers who navigate their way guided and unguided, as well as people who complete a hybrid of running the road section and then hiking in the mountains.
The event is a staple on the Irish outdoor calendar and it’s a must-do for runners and runners and hikers alike.
See: Art O’Neill
Run the line is the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team’s trail running event. Following the success of Walk the Line, the team began to put on a running race in November with the aim of attracting a different clientele to their other fund-raising events. This year the event attracted over 1,500 runners. The event showcases some of the very best trails on offer in the Dublin Mountains.
The event offers two different distances: a 13 km and a 26 km route. This makes the event accessible to nearly everybody and also challenging for those who are seasoned runners. It’s definitely an outdoor event to consider for the future!
See: Run The Line
2022 saw the first ever World Mountain running association World Cup race take place in Dunlewey, County Donegal. Taking place in the stunning Glenveagh National Park, The Seven Sisters Skyline, run by Excel Sport, offers two distances for competitors. This year the point-to-point 30 km race is the very first race in this year’s World Mountain Running Association World Cup. The route traverses all seven mountains in the national park from north to south and finishing on the mighty Errigal. The gruelling route is almost entirely on an open hillside and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart.
As well as the point-to-point race, there is also an out-and-back event where competitors retrace their steps and rack up an incredible 4,000m of climbing in 55 km. This is definitely one of the most intense ultra races in the country.
See: Excel Sports
The Irish Mountain Running Association (IMRA) puts on lots of high-quality, marshalled events every year, many of which cost very little to enter (as little as €7). A standout event on the 2022 calendar was the Reeks Skyline. The Reeks Skyline takes in the full Skyline of the magnificent Macgillycuddy’s Reeks, summiting Carrauntoohil twice! The race is 24km long and includes a staggering 2,400m of climbing, so it’s not one to be undertaken lightly and requires pre-entry approval by IMRA. If you are up to the challenge, this should be a bucket list Irish race for you!
If you want to try trail running, we highly recommend giving the IMRA races a try! There are lots of easier races to get started with!
The Woman’s Rock Festival took place for the first time this year. This women-only event is a rock climbing weekend that took place in the Burren in 2022.
It offers the opportunity to meet other like-minded climbers, to get their technical support, start networking and creating new bonds. It is a great opportunity to meet leading female climbers during the inspirational talks and to ask questions about their challenges in rock climbing. There is a technical workshop focused on the fear of falling and yoga classes to prepare both body and mind for the rock climbing challenges.
See: Women’s Rock Festival
A staple outdoor event in Ireland is Women With Altitude. Organized by Mountaineering Ireland, the Women With Altitude initiative was started in 2011 with the aim of increasing the skills and so confidence of women on the hills. The initiative is centred around one annual weekend event which is based in a different part of Ireland each time.
The weekend consists of both instructional and self-directed activities and also includes a number of talks and workshops. In addition to learning and improving hard skills, Women With Altitude provides a platform for the many female mountaineering role models we have in Ireland and is an ideal opportunity to meet like-minded women.
See: Women With Altitude
When it comes to outdoor events for mountain bikers, Gravity Enduro is a must-do. This 5-round Enduro competition has 13 categories to suit a wide variety of bikers, including Kids, Youth, Pro and Hardtail. The competition is based on the biker’s individual times on downhill mountain bike segments. The uphills are not timed. This series is a must try for those that want a good day out on the bike without feeling any racing pressure.
See: Gravity Enduro
By Matthew McConnell
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