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Take on the Challenge 2012

Posted on February 28, 2012 @ 9:38 AM in Adventure

The days are getting warmer and the nights are stretching out – it’s time to put a spring in your step and get out and active in the great outdoors!  If you’ve been hibernating during the winter months and are lacking motivation there has never been a better time to sign up to one of Northern Ireland’s great challenge events and give yourself something to work towards.  Whether it’s off road running, cycling, hill walking, adventure racing or something a bit mad, working towards a challenge is the perfect way to motivate yourself, get outdoors and most importantly have some fun! 

With events taking place throughout the year there’s plenty of time to train – no excuses needed! It doesn’t matter if you’re a fiercely competitive race junkie or a first timer who is more interested in completing than competing there is a challenge to suit everybody. Nothing beats that feeling of achievement when you cross the finish line – so sign up to one of the many take on the challenge events on OutdoorNI.com and get ready to work towards greatness! 

Off road running

Here are just a few of the many challenge events that are taking place throughout the year:

Cue the Rocky theme tune…

Off road running

If you’re fed up pounding out the miles on the same old roads why not take part in one of 26 Extreme's off road running events? The Mourne Way Marathon is an off-road marathon with a spectacular view.  For those serious runners looking to push themselves to the limit there are the options of an ultra marathon, marathon or half marathon - these routes are not for the fainthearted or under prepared making them all the more rewarding!  If you don’t think you’re quite ready for the long distances yet then why not give the 10k or 5k route a go? The stunning views of the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty including stunning vistas of coast, sea and countryside will be all the motivation you need!

If you’re looking for a challenge like no other, one to benchmark your season’s performance then the Lakeland Warrior 100k is the event for you.  Shorter yet still demanding routes of 50k and 27k are also available for those who want a challenge but find the 100k too daunting.  The routes take in some of the most scenic areas in Co Fermanagh through an area of forest wilderness. However if you’re expecting flat terrain and smooth tarmac surfaces you will go home disappointed - start training and get ready to conquer the route to enjoy ‘warrior’ status.   


If running isn’t your thing then dust down the bike and get ready to pump the peddles on a cycling sportive.  A cycling sportive is a long distance, organised, mass-participation cycling event were participants battle against the clock and themselves rather than fighting for podium places. 

Now in its second year the Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive is fast becoming the most talked about sportive on the Irish cycling calendar.  Check out the 2011 event video and get ready to be inspired. With 3 routes on offer (57km, 126km 182km) through an incredible landscape steeped in myth and legend, this iconic event is sure to fill up fast – book early to avoid disappointment. 

The Bangor Coastal Challenge, Dromara Mourne Sportive and the Inishowen 100 are just a few of the many sportives in Northern Ireland that are listed on our sister website CycleNI.com’s dedicated sportive section.  Check it out to decide which sportive you want to take on first!

Another great cycling event is Lap the Lough as the name suggests the aim is to encourage as many cyclists to do one lap of Lough Neagh – roughly 130km. Apart from a few climbs the route is mostly on flat terrain and is by no means exclusively for elite or club cyclists - anyone who is up for a challenge is welcome!

If you can’t decide between running or cycling then the Belfast Off Road Duathlon is the perfect solution to your problem! Hosted by the Pioneer Group this challenge event consists of a 19k bike ride with a 2.5k run either side.  Held in the beautiful surroundings of Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park, Belfast this is a great challenge for all ages to work towards.

Cycling Sportive

Hill walking

There are some great charity hill walks taking place throughout Northern Ireland – the perfect opportunity to achieve something for yourself and others all at the same time! 

Arguably the most demanding, the Ulster Cancer Foundation is hosting the Celtic Mountain Challenge an exhilarating experience involving climbing 4 of the highest peaks in Ireland - Slieve Donard, Errigal, Croagh Patrick and Lugnaquilla in just 3 days.

If you’re looking for a tough yet exhilarating challenge then look no further than the Oxfam Trailtrekker Teams of four must complete the 100km or 50km route together beginning in Donard Park, Co Down, following the Mourne Mountains, Ring of Gullion and Cooley Peninsula before finishing in Carlingford, Co Louth.  A real team effort, participants will train together, fundraise together, provide encouragement to each other and hopefully have a lot of laughs along the way! Teams of all levels of experience are welcome to take part - with the right training and preparation, just about anyone can successfully complete the route so get ready to achieve something extraordinary!

For a shorter yet still demanding walk the Northern Ireland Hospice have organised a Mournes Trek.  With a choice of two different yet challenging routes participants will encounter rocky tors, heather clad valleys, glistening reservoirs and views across the waters of Carlingford Lough on this one day challenge.

Something Different

If suspending yourself off some of Northern Ireland’s most iconic buildings sounds like your idea of fun then check out some of the many charity abseils taking place  for a once in a life time experience.  Abseil down the historic Scrabo Tower or descend down all 265feet of Belfast’s Obel Building – the highest building in Ireland!

Charity Abseil


For something completely different McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes Mud Madness is the ultimate muddy challenge! Take on this fun-filled assault course individually or as part of a team as you run through a mucky course of fields, ponds and bogs and over obstacles including a tyre pit, foxhole, climbing wall and cargo net.  This is a great way to have a laugh whilst raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

So what are you waiting for?! Sign up today and get training!


Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

Different Ways to Spend Valentine's Day

Posted on February 3, 2012 @ 4:28 PM in Adventure

You've reached our 2012 Valentine's Day Blog make sure to check out the new 2014 blog 'Give the Gift of Adventure This Valentine's Day' for plenty of unique and exciting gift ideas to give your loved one this year.

Love it or loath it, the giant cards and helium filled hearts mean you can’t ignore it – Valentine’s Day is fast approaching!  If you’re struggling to think of what to do for Valentines Day then look no further.  OutdoorNI.com has it covered with enough Valentine’s Day events and gift ideas to make even Cupid jealous!

what to do for valentine's day

If the thought of going to an overcrowded restaurant is looking less than romantic then fear not as there are some great Valentine's Day Events happening throughout Northern Ireland for you and your partner to enjoy. Nothing says romance like spontaneity so why not surprise your other half with something completely different?!

Here are just a few unique ways to spend this Valentine's Day weekend:

Swing, Roll & Soak Valentine’s Day Special, The Jungle, Co. Londonderry, 11th-18th Feb

The perfect treat for any adrenaline loving couple – experience the Jungle NI’s tree top adventure course and zorbing before relaxing in their outdoor hot tubs.  You’ll also receive a bottle of bubbly & some chocolates for the ultimate date with a difference! 

Guided Canoe Trip on Strangford Lough, Action Outdoors, Co. Down, 12th February

Enjoy a guided paddle with an experienced instructor exploring the tranquil Strangford Lough and its wildlife before stopping on a deserted island for lunch, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

Valentines Day Canoe-dle couples retreat, Mobile Team Adventure, Belfast, 12th- 19th February

Take the hassle and stress out of your Valentine’s Day plans with a romantic and relaxing paddle in the picturesque River Lagan complete with a romantic hamper for two – all you have to do is turn up with your other half and enjoy!

Romantic Canoe Rental, Life Adventure Centre, Castlewellan, Co. Down, 11th-14th February

Enjoy a romantic paddle for Valentine's Day with Life’s half day half price canoe rental on the beautiful Castlewellan Lake. This great offer gives you the flexibility to explore the lake in your own time and at your own pace.

Why not turn your Valentines Day out into a weekend away? GASP Surfin’ Dirt combines action with relaxation for the ultimate getaway.  Their Surf, Soak and Stay package includes a thrilling mountain boarding session followed by a rejuvenating seaweed bath topped off with an overnight stay in the stunning North Coast.  For more great ideas for a weekend away with a difference check out our top tips for the North Coast.

What to do for valentines day

You’ve got the day covered but what about the all important gift?  If you’re struggling to think of what to get for Valentine's Day do not fear OutdoorNI.com Gift Experiences mean you no longer have to give into the overpriced chocolates or garage bought carnations. Give your other half an experience they’ll never forget or why not buy two and you can join in on the fun as well?!  Here are some of our top Valentines gift ideas:

Valentines Gifts for Him

Hover Crafting and Powerturn Buggying, Foyle Hovercrafting and Leisure

Learn to fly a hovercraft and experience the thrill of blasting over land and water at speed before testing your coordination and nerve driving your very own Powerturn Buggy.  A unique and thrilling combination of activities sure to get his heart racing!

Try a Dive in the Sea, Aquaholics Dive Centre

Explore the underwater world with Aquaholics. Forget the Great Barrier Reef, try something completely new and discover a whole other side to the North Coast. This three hour session includes a safety briefing and instruction from a fully qualified PADI instructor.

Learn to Surf, Alive Surf School

Let him hit the surf and hang ten as he learns from the experts how to tackle the waves of the North Coast on a two hour surfing lesson.

Valentines Gifts for Her

Roll N Soak – Zorbing and Hot Tubs, The Jungle NI

The perfect combination of adrenaline and relaxation.  Let her experience the thrills of hurtling down the hill in a zorbing ball before unwinding in the Jungle NI’s very own outdoor hot tub.

Strangford Sea Safari, Clearsky Adventure Centre

See Strangford Lough like never before, aboard a high speed 12 seater RIB.  Visit the SeaGen, Audleys Castle, whirlpools and maybe even some seals as the knowledgeable skipper tells you all the local folklore

Seaweed Plunge – Coasteering, Far and Wild

Explore the coastline of the North West like never before. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to enjoy the ocean spray and relax in real seaweed pools on the way!

Now all that’s left to do is enjoy the best Valentine's Day ever!


Latest comment posted by Dani on February 15, 2012 @ 5:14 PM

Great post. Tons of great ideas! Thank you. Perfect for birthday gifts as well. Dani @ ONNO hemp clothing Read more >

Sarah Nelson
Sarah Nelson  Marketing Officer

Sarah joined the marketing team of Outdoor Recreation NI in 2011. A firm believer in giving anything a go at least once (unless it involves jumping out of a plane at 6,000ft!) she is always looking for new adventures in the outdoors and can often be found wandering the Mournes or Glens of Antrim attempting not to get lost!

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