Moylagh participant nears 450-mile mark for cancer patient fundraisers

(Above) Concepta Smith from Moylagh.

The current disruption caused by Covid will not be enough to deter one Moylagh woman from reaching the remarkable 450-mile mark next Saturday in her fundraising walks for cancer patients.

Avid walker Concepta Smith is a proud member of a select group of people who have completed the Moylagh JFK 50 Mile Challenge each year since it began in 2012, raising thousands of euro for the Irish Cancer Society in the process.

By this time she would usually be reflecting on another successful challenge with the event typically drawing hundreds to the route across Cavan, Meath and Westmeath each June.

With the walk unable to go ahead in its usual guise due to public health restrictions on social gatherings, Concepta will be among the fortunate few who will be able to do the replacement virtual Moylagh JFK 50 Mile Challenge on Saturday 8th August along some of the traditional route.

“I live within a mile of Moylagh itself so I’ll be doing a route around the neolithic hills of Loughcrew near where the three counties meet. I’m lucky in that it’s a very scenic walk and I’ll be doing laps so I can stay close to rest facilities, but the hills are a bit of a killer!” said Concepta, who will have completed the equivalent of almost 18 marathons over the nine challenges.

The challenge is based on an endurance test handed down by John F Kennedy to the US military to cover 50 miles on foot within 20 hours however participants are encouraged to do as much or as little as they like from a location of their choice, and Concepta knows from experience that it is important people do the walk on their own terms.

“I’ve seen people who they’d never even walk a mile and now they’re doing it. I remember the first year when I said I was doing 50 miles people didn’t know what to think, and they were the same people who joined up the second year because they see that if I can do it then they can too,” she said.

“It’s brilliant for people’s mental health to be out and a great way of getting fit, and you’re doing it for a tremendous cause helping people while at the same time helping yourself too.

“Anyone who even wants to do a small bit has a last chance to register this week and I’d really encourage people thinking of it to do so,” she added.

As part of the new virtual challenge participants who sign up for an online fundraising page at www.idonate.ie/JFK50MileChallenge will be will be able to track their progress on a digital map of the traditional Moylagh route.

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