It was a weekend packed with festive fun and fitness for two volunteer groups who save many lives every year around the country on land and at sea. The off-road action kicked off on a crisp, sunny Saturday morning as the Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team took to the hills around Lambs Cross in Sandyford for their Run the Line fundraiser.
Close to 400 experienced runners and riders navigated their way over rough but firm terrain and woodland trails in appreciation for the volunteers who make this emergency service viable. With more and more people accessing our hills and mountains for sporting and leisure pursuits, call-outs doubled in 2013 to more than 100.
"Funding goes towards upgrading medical equipment, upkeep of the rescue vehicles and team training," explained event organiser and DWMRT volunteer Gareth Little. The line-up of competitors for the 25k and 11k distance included locals John Kirwan and Ultan Mac Mathúna of Pulse Triathlon Club who were keen to get in some winter training while trying something new. Also taking part were members of MAD mountain bike club who are more accustomed to faster speeds and big air jumps as they make their descent down the dirt trails. Diarmuid Collins was first male back to base camp in 2:01.55 and first female was Flora McKnight, 2:29.34.
Back on terra firma on Sunday, reindeers of all ages walked, trotted or galloped around Marlay Park for the RNLI Reindeer Run or Santa Saunter. The warm-up and motivational pep talk was energetically delivered by Teena Gates of 98fm and assisted by Rookie the Reindeer as the 10k, 5k runners and walkers took off. "It's great that everyone can take part in this today," said Teena. "You don't have to be fit to get fit and it really doesn't matter how long it takes to get around."
Conditions were perfect for the 1,200 entrants raising money for the charity which attends to more than 900 call-outs per year.
"My goal is to just get across the line," said Maria Brennan, supporting her fiancé and crew member Damien Payne by taking part in her first 5k. A crew of 2,000 volunteers are on call 24/7. Stephen Farrell from Longford led the charge in the 10k in less than 34 minutes.