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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.
Crowned All-Ireland Hillwalking Individuals Champion in 2022 was a huge achievement for 15-year-old Dillon. The event is an epic eight-month competition hosted by High Point Ireland, where competitors score points by summiting mountains and by using the Peakhunter App to record the visit to the peak. In that time, Dillon climbed Carrauntoohil five times; hit 56 peaks four times; 7 peaks three times; 20 peaks twice; and 136 peaks once. Phew!
His longest distance and toughest challenge this year, he says, was in July in the Dingle Mountain Challenge.
“After competing in High Point Ireland’s challenges for a number of years, it seemed like the natural step to take part in their latest challenge,” Dillon says. “I knew looking at what was involved that it would push me a bit further than anything I have done in the past so that was also an attraction.”
From as young as three, Dillon was hillwalking with his dad, Pat and older sister, Rachel. By age nine he had climbed all the County High Points of Ireland making him the youngest to complete it. Following that, Kieron Gribbon, owner of the High Point Ireland website, launched a number of competitive initiatives such as the 10,000 metre Challenge and Highpointeer of the year and competing in them gave him a great interest in the competition side of Hill Walking.
Luckily, his dad was always there to provide motivation and the highlight of the challenge for Dillon was the chance to climb mountains all over Ireland.
16-year-old Jessika Robson (from Hillsborough, Northern Ireland) is an open water swimmer and 2022 was a fantastic year for her. “I’ve swam in some awesome events and races and trained with some incredible people,” she says.
She took part in the Infinity Channel Swimming Hit the Wall challenge, the Battle of Carlingford and swam at the Lough Lene national championships. Her biggest swim and one she’s most proud of, was her own individual challenge. It was a 22.5 km swim down the length of Carlingford Lough, which she did in 5 hours and 2 minutes—taking an incredible 56 minutes off the current record. She was the first junior ever to do this swim and she says she loved every minute of it. Amazingly, she doesn’t like to wear a wetsuit, so all her swims are in a swimsuit.
Jessika first got involved in open water at a young age and has been swimming competitively since she was just eight years old. “I love everything about this sport—the people, the support, the atmosphere.”
She worked hard to get ready for the Carlingford Lough swim and it felt amazing to finish it. She did it in memory of her Great Nanna Mary, who passed away from cancer not long before…and she managed to raise just over £1,500 for cancer research.
Fitting her training around studying for her exams was tough, but she feels lucky to have a lot of support. “I just really had to push myself,” she says. “Even when I didn’t want to train, I knew I had to so just got on with it. I had the best training partners and coaches which helped a lot.”
So what’s next for this super swimmer? “I want to eventually swim the North Channel, but for now I’m just looking forward to next season and seeing where it takes me.”
Julia and Filip Piorek are just 9 and 14 years old. Originally from Poland, the family moved to Ireland when Filip was 3, and Julia was born in Limerick.
The brother and sister duo got into mountain biking through their dad Gregor’s love for it. It was a way for them all to spend time together. Filip, a diabetic, was 6 when he started. Gregor took him to the local forests to learn the rules of mountain biking—and he learnt quickly, getting better and faster each time.
After a few years, sister Julia joined in the fun. Today, she’s at a really good level and improving by the day.
Filip loves downhill mountain biking in particular. “I love this sport because it gives me the opportunity to be with my family. I come home mentally fully relaxed.”
His biggest obstacle to reach the level he’s at has always been his diabetes. He’s had to work hard on his body to keep his energy up during training. But this doesn’t stop him. 2022 was the first full season in which he raced in such competitions as Grassroots Gravity Enduro. He finished in the top five in the downhill competition. He also won first place overall in the under-17 category from all rounds in the Gravity Series.
His plans for the future is to be national champion in Enduro and downhill. Then he wants to compete in British/Scottish championships and finally his dream is to compete in the World Cup.
For her part, Julia wants to be one of the best bikers in Ireland. She has already competed in many competitions this year, where she was usually 2nd on the podium. Next year she’s going to compete in Gravity Enduro competitions for the first time. Watch this space!
Hannah Mullin credits her success to her family, along with Race Team Vitus First Tracks and her bike sponsor, Vitus Bikes—saying without their support she wouldn’t be where she is today. In 2022, the 16-year-old from Portdown in Co. Armagh competed in Ireland, Great Britain and across Europe in the Enduro World Series.
When she turned 12, she entered her first Enduro race and that had her hooked. She ended up in second place overall. “I have not stopped racing Enduro and downhill mountain bike racing since and all I want to do is race tracks as quick as I can and push myself and my speed to the limit.”
In 2022, she raced an Enduro in Ireland, at the British series and represented Ireland in Finale Ligure, Italy, at the Trophy of Nations. Finale Ligure was her biggest challenge.
There are no other Under 21 females from Ireland who compete in EWS races, which meant she couldn’t compete in a team. So, she represented Ireland in the Solo Rider event. Coming second in this event was a fantastic achievement, especially at a world level.
“I’ve always dreamed of representing my country at a worldwide event and felt very privileged when I was asked to. I also wanted to show the world that mountain biking is big in Ireland and is continuing to grow.” She also wanted to inspire a younger generation, especially girls, that they can achieve their dreams like she is doing.
2023 is probably going to be one of her biggest years to date. She wants to do as many local Irish Enduro and downhill races as she can and she hopes to go to Europe again to compete in more Enduro World Series races.
Fox is only 6 years old, and yet, this year he completed a kilometre a day for 60 days…all in aid of the Children’s Cancer Unit in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, which has been treating two of his friends. What an amazing feat for such a young age.
Fox goes to St. Comgall’s primary school in Bangor and lives with his proud parents and younger brother Soren (4).
When Fox was a baby, his mum and dad ran Parkrun with him in the buggy. When he was three, he started to run the first lap, and then progressed to junior Parkrun as well as running the full Parkrun when it started up again after Covid.
He says he likes trying to run faster every week. He was truly dedicated to his challenge, running a kilometre every day during his summer break, even when he was on holiday.
Fox feels very lucky to be healthy enough to do this every day, but sadly his friends have not been well enough to run, and the charity he raised money for bought them pizza every Tuesday while they were in the hospital.
Some days he felt tired, but he didn’t give up. “I thought about my friends who were sick in hospital and all the people who sponsored me to complete my challenge.”
Of course, the highlight of his challenge was getting to the end and completing 60 days in a row. He raised an amazing £1,005 for the charity. He’s not stopping there. Fox wants to keep running and raise more money for charity.
14-year-old Curtis McKee is passionate about riding bikes. The teenager, who lives in Ballinderry, Northern Ireland with his dad David, mum Ruth and brother Jake, was introduced to mountain biking at a young age.
2022 was a fantastic year for him—he raced in England and finished second at the British National Mountain Bike Series at under 14. Curtis also won seven national titles in road/track/mountain biking and road racing. He regularly overtakes the majority of the under-16’s field in Ireland, who start ahead of the under-14s! Curtis won the Time Trial, Road Race and Criterium National Championships at under 14. He says he really couldn’t have wished for more.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing for Curtis. In March 2020, he had a near career-ending accident—he crashed on his bike and his leg hit a rock and ripped a huge chunk of his leg off. “When my accident happened, it was three days before the Covid lockdown. This was a good thing for me as there wasn’t any racing for about a year, which gave me time to recover from my injuries.” Being off his bike for so long made him appreciate how much he really loved his sport.
In 2023, he’s aiming to go to the European Youth Olympics and hopefully get some good results in England, as well as back home.
In September this year, Cian competed in the Cork Women’s Mini Marathon to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind. His longest run ever!
Cian is from Tralee, Co. Kerry and lives with his dad Brian, mum Norma, his older sister Eve and younger brother Dara. Accompanied by Norma, Eve, aunties and cousins, he ran the marathon because his cousin Kate has a beautiful Assist dog called Yoda, which she got from the Guide Dogs charity.
Cian loved every minute of his challenge. “It was great fun to run with so many people and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves.” He trained hard because he wanted to beat his sister—which he succeeded on, he’s delighted to say! Next year, he wants to do it again for the Guide Dogs…and run an even faster time.
By Matthew McConnell
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