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To Hell and Back in spirit of cooperation

Staff and volunteers of the East Clare Community Co-op put themselves through a “baptism of mud” as they journeyed to Hell and Back in aid of the locally based counselling service.

Exhausted and exhilarated, Fionnuala Collins, Vikki Cullen, Joanne McKeown, Eileen Toomey and Trevor Morrissey made it through 12 gruelling physical and mental challenges over a rough 10km cross-country course known as Hell and Back.

The five-strong team braved the challenging course in an effort to raise much-needed funds for East Clare Community Co-op Counselling service.

Speaking about the pursuit, Fionnuala said when they left Clare on Sunday morning for Kilruddery estate in Bray, they did so full of fear and trepidation. However, when they returned 12 hours later, battered, bruised, bloodied, muddied, mentally and physically wiped out, they felt a great sense of achievement and pride.

“From the outset, we only had a rough idea of what was involved, as we tried not to read too much about it. We knew the course was designed to leave no-one in doubt that this was going to be a rough ride. The toughest part was keeping mentally alert the whole time, there was no time when you could mentally relax, if you did, you would lose your footing on the slippery mud and face the consequences. One of our team, Eileen lost her footing on one of the downward mud and gravel slopes and had several gashes on her hands, which needed medical attention,” Fionnuala said.

Despite the injury, Eileen finished the course, which meant clambering on through mud and gravel, under barbed wire fences, over huge walls, through thigh high quick-mud swamps and chest-high rivers testing her mental and physical strength.

“There were two types of people going on the course, the competitors and the co-operators. The competitors would stampede past everybody in order to finish quickly. Their goal appeared to be move through without getting involved with or delayed by anybody else. The co-operators helped each other through the worst, giving a helping hand over the slippery and dangerous parts and making it through safely while keeping spirits up. We fell into this category, we did not even see our end time but have since learned our overall team time was two hours 26 minutes and we are delighted,” she continued.

Fionnuala said the course was a great challenge and taught the East Clare contingent that you have to remain positive, avoid letting self doubt or negativity in and to face all obstacles with a big smile.

“We all agreed that the toughest challenge was the barbed wire crawl, all in a line on hands and knees over slimy mud and sharp gravel, every time the knees landed, it was agony. The barbed wire overhead meant trying to squat through wasn’t an option, some crawled on their belly, but the challenge seemed to last forever.

“After that the swamp and river and huge walls were all tough as there was no way of preparing for these, except to be fit and have all round agility.

“The course saw us crawling twisting, clambering, climbing under and over, wading, and it seemed as if a lot of time was spent on all fours. There were sound effects in the woods and at one point, wading through the swamp it felt as if we were in a war situation, and the only way was onwards, so no time to hesitate or think about the next challenge,” Fionnuala said.

Having gone through all of this torture and everyone in the group was sufficiently filthy from head to foot the group could smile with relief as it was finally over and they had made it to the finish line.

East Clare Community Coop are aiming to raise in the region of €5,000 but notwithstanding what they have raised to date with this fundraiser the coop are still a distance away from that goal, which would ensure the sustainability of their counselling service. 

For further details about the counselling service or how to contribute to this initiative contact East Clare Community coop on 061-921536 or visit www.eastclarecoop.com.


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