Friday, August 05, 2022

A group of ultra-cyclists will complete the Ancient East, a distance of 1,100km.

The cycle group have already raised €227,000 to date for worthy causes. This is the Ultra Cycle’s sixth year and they hope to raise another €50,000, bringing the total amount raised for Irish national and local charities to €277,000.

The six brave cyclists will begin their cycle on Wednesday August 24 and will complete the challenging journey on Saturday August 2. It begins at Derry city and finishes at Old Head in Kinsale, Cork. The cyclists will cycle along the coastline of the counties of Derry, Antrim, Down, Louth, Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Waterford and Cork and all the coastal towns and cities on their journey.

“To date, we have raised €227,000 over six ultra-charity cycles covering 8,700km across six different countries in just 25 days!” said Alan Heaney, the main organiser of the Ultra Cycle.

“All our cycles are self-financed, so 100% of all monies collected goes directly to the worthy charities.”

Alan is from Swinford. He is part-time farmer and Agri business owner, and is the co-founder and owner of Efficient Farm Solutions, Lely Centre Mullingar and Efficient Farm Systems. While he’s very busy with business, farm, family and sport, he spends his limited free time cycling the roads of Mayo, Galway and Sligo, getting the long miles of preparation in. Typical training sessions for Alan entail 75km – 150km spins, in the early morning and weekends. In addition to road cycling, he trains 2-3 times a week in the early hours of the morning, running through forestry trails, cross mountain ranges and bog roads to build up the stamina, physical and mental fitness, that is required to complete ultra-events. Alan has been joined by fellow co-owner of EFS/Lely Centre Mullingar, Niall McGauran, on many trips and both are big advocates of fundraising for local and national charities through ultra-cycling events.

“The event is fantastic,” Alan said, “The big push behind the fundraising are our social media followers and the general public who donate to us, and the corporates who support us. Over the last 2 years, our corporates include MSD,  Alltech, Glanbia, IFAC, Keenan, Lely, Lakeland Co-op, Kepak, Easifix, Zerograzer  and I’d really like to thank them for their generous support for these fantastic causes!”

The charities benefitting from this year’s cycle include Turn2Me, national mental health charity, and the Mayo/Roscommon Hospice Foundation who fund palliative care services in the community and their two hospices and Hooves4Hospice who are raising vital funds for the cost of building a planned midland regional hospice for the counties of Laois, Longford, Westmeath & Offaly. The charities have stated that charity fundraising has dropped significantly during the pandemic, and that they are very grateful for the efforts of the cyclists involved, the supporters, the donors and everyone who gets involved.

“This is an incredible fundraiser,” Fiona O’Malley, CEO of Turn2Me, said, “At the peak of the pandemic, demand for our mental health services increased by 386%. As a small charity, donations from fundraisers, like this Ultra Cycle, are really vital and make a huge difference to the services we can offer people who are struggling with depression, anxiety, grief or relationship issues. Well done to everyone who is involved, or supports, this fantastic event – it is a huge achievement and Turn2Me is so grateful!”

Martina Jennings, chief executive of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation said: “We are incredibly grateful to the ultra-cyclists for choosing us as one of their charities again this year. We are dependent on fundraisers like this to fund our much needed palliative care service in our community and in our Mayo & Roscommon Hospices. It is humbling that Alan and his team give so much of their own time to train for this event, and raise so much for charities like ourselves. We wish the whole team the very best of luck with this challenge, and our sincere gratitude to them and all who support them.

“This is a great event and we are very proud to be chosen as one of the charity partners for this amazing ultra-cycle. The money raised will go towards the building of a new palliative care centre in the midlands which the counties of Laois, Westmeath, Longford and Offaly badly need. We wish the ultra-cyclists the best of luck and safe passage on their cycle over the 4 days” says Pat Lawlor from Hooves for Hospice..

The participants are from various counties – Gerry “Boots” is from Armagh, living in London; Brendan Barrett is from Belmullet, Mayo, living in London; Ronan Bourke is from Balla, Mayo; Vinny Gavin is from Swinford, Mayo; Jonathon Very is Tubbercurry, Sligo; Alan Heaney is from Swinford Mayo; and Niall McGauran, one of the main sponsors and a participant cyclist, is from Roscommon.

The Ultra Cycle also has an “Agri Day” on Day 3, Friday August 26, which starts on Sandymount strand and finishes 255km later in Duncannon beach, Waterford. This leg of the Ultra cycle is open to all cyclists, particularly farmers, industry (vets, co-ops, advisors, animal health companies etc.). Anyone can join. The Ultra Cycle group welcomes all cycling enthusiasts to join them on the “Agri Day” for fun, laughs and a healthy, community, networking day. Members of the public are encouraged to come and cycle a 65km leg or the full 255km stage.

For more information on the Ultra Cycle for Charity or to donate, go to https://www.ultracyclingforcharity.ie/

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