Mandy CollieAshley HunterPaul McArthur
read more about the authors
Blog ethics

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 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’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!

Post a Comment

Name *

Email Address * (will not be published)

Comment *

Northern Ireland's Outdoor Adventure Blog