Monday 8 July 2013

COMERAGH CROSSING 2013 Full report

Comeragh Crossing 2013
Comeragh Crossing 2013...What a day. Words cant describe the mood of the organisers and helpers of this years Crossing. We thought we had reached the pinnacle last year but this year proved to be better again in every aspect of the day.
The day started at 4am with the road crew putting out signs on all roads into town directing people to the registration at Dungarvan soccer club and finished in the club late into the night with some music and plenty of craic. What happened in between was what hillwalking is all about. We opened the registration at 6.30am for the Challenge walkers. 42 people headed of then to Clonmel to start a tough days walking, 44k over all the high points of the Comeraghs on a very warm day that was to test these toughened hillwalkers to the limit.We were slightly dissapointed back in the club as the numbers were a littleof down on other years and we hoped this would not be the trend for the day with the other walks. We could not have been more wrong.
The walkers  for the 35k walk from Clonmel started to come before the challenge walkers were away and they just kept on coming. A fantastic turnout of 99 people headed of to Clonmel. It took 3 buses and 4 cars to get us all to the start and we began walking at 8.25am on the start of a fantastic day on the mountains. Back at the soccer club people turned up in record numbers for the rest of the walks organised for the day. First off were the Nire section. On this walk 52 people left the Nire valley on what is the 2nd section of the full walk from Clonmel. Although this is 15k shorter than the full walk it is no stroll in the park as practically all the days climbing is done from the Nire onwards, so this 20k hike is a tough day out on the hills.
Next off was  the 10k mountain walk from Caseys road. This section, which consisted of 17 people, climbs half way up Seefin and then crosses the Carraigs to the Mauma road before climbing to Cruachan and descending through the forest to Monarud. This last section from the Mauma road is done by all the hillwalkers on the day. Finally 9 people did the 12k road and track walk which goes down through the forest from the Mauma road to Monarud, then down on to N25 and back into Dungarvan soccer club.
Back on the hill the 35k walk was split into 3 groups to facilitate the different levels of fitness  but as the day went on these groups stretched out over the mountainside and anyone looking back on the days climbs were treated with the view of lines of people stretching back for miles. On a day with poor visibility the leaders and sweepers on the walk would not allow this to happen but on such a fine day they could see everyone for miles and it was just a case of following the person in front of you. It was great to see though when tough climbing was called for people stopped and waited for the slower walkers and cajoled those who were under pressure to get up the mountain.
 Hillwalkers are a rare breed and most are interested in walking for enjoyment and companionship and will stop to help others on such a tough walk. There are no medals given out at the end of a walk for those who get home first. At around 3 hours of walking we had a break in the Nire car park where the club had set up a checkpoint, plus a  tea and refreshment station.
This is great on a  tough days walking as people dont have to lug too much water around the mountain with them. We have these checkpoints and food stations at various intervals along the route of all the walks. The checkpoints are vital to keep track of walkers throughout the day and to ensure everyone gets down safely off the mountain.
As the day progressed the different walk grades would meet up and people got  to hear how others were faring on the walk. After the Nire car park the Challenge walkers went back into the``Gap`` to climb Carraig na Gower and on to Seefin via the Boola cairn, spot heights 792m,730m,744m and Coumfea. The rest of the walkers climbed the long tough Coumfea shoulder to the checkpoint on top and on to the next food station and checkpoint at Seefin.
 From here it is 11.5k to the finish with some more climbing to Coumaraglin Mountain and Cruachan. In between all the walkers were treated to a final food station at the Mauma road.
Here the Clonmel  groups met with some of the people from the 20k and 10k walks and the various groups mingled as they made their way down to the walks end at Monarud. All were then carried by bus and cars as they finished back to the soccer club and a final check in.                                                                                                              
So another Comeragh Crossing has come and gone and it was without doubt the best one in the 17 years of the event. As we always say we could not run this event without the full cooperation of club members, and indeed family and friends of members who also helped out. It takes the combined efforts of over 60 people to make sure the Crossing is a success. Whether it is leading and sweeping on the mountain, the various checkpoints, food stations, ferrying back and forth with cars or helping at the soccer club, every job is vital and the organising committee wish to thank everyone for their help on the day. You know you are doing something right when so many people come back year after year.       Well done to all.