Outsider People of the Year 2013

Outsider People of the Year 2013


Catherine Murphy, Roisin Finlay, Jane Lawrenson and Briana Palma




"People of the Year"

We love this time of year. It’s when the Outsider team gets together and compiles (argues about!) our list.

No not for the fat man in red. This is our chance to put together our People of the Year list to celebrate those that have done incredible things on the Irish outdoor scene in 2013. 
For the second year running, we’re having an event to celebrate these people. 
It takes place on 19 December in the Generator in Smithfield, Dublin 7. On the night we’ll present the chosen people from the following pages (hence the fights) awards under the following categories: Most Inspiring Person; Audience Award, Breakthrough Performance of 2013; and Most Devoted to the Outdoor Scene. Finally, we’ll present the top accolade of Outsider of the Year.
We’d love you to come and join us in the Generator to celebrate all of these remarkable people – and to have a good old hooley. We’re inviting all the people on the list too so it might just be a chance to meet your heroes. Tickets are available here and cost €10, simply select 'People of the Year Awards' from the drop down list and enter the amount. 
On the night, we’ll also have an award for Best Outdoor Event, Best Outdoor Escape (Adventure Destination/Provider), Best Outdoor Photo and Best Outdoor Film. These will be chosen by you our readers on our voting page.  
In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy and be inspired by our Outsider People of the Year 2013 longlist. We think you’ll agree, they’re a fine bunch!

Calvin Torrans

“It would be hard to find a greater sporting role model than Calvin Torrans,” says Karl Boyle, CEO of the Mountaineering Ireland. 
“Legendary”, “modest”, “prolific new router” and “all round Irish climbing hero” says Dave Ayton, of Awesome Walls Climbing Centre, about this septuagenarian who set up the Irish Bouldering League with his wife Claire Sheridan, and has been at the helm of the Irish climbing scene for more than 50 years. 
Septuagenarian Calvin Torrans has pushed the boundaries of Irish climbing.
Through the 70s and 80s, Calvin, who hails from Belfast, was been part of serious expeditions to Manaslu, Garhwal, Kullu Valley and Kishwar in the Indian Himalayas, and K2 and Broadpeak on the border of Pakistan and China. Back home, Calvin was busy putting up new routes like Cúchulainn, Mizen Star, X-Men and Sandpiper at Fairhead. 
Although he is unbelievably modest about his achievements, Calvin concedes, “I am most proud of the big routes I did on El Capitan in Yosemite. I did the Salathe and the Nose. They took three to four days. But once you’ve climbed them, they disappear into the background. You just get on with it and think about the next one.”
And Calvin’s climbing explorations continue, despite having smashed both his ankles during a fall in the Mournes two years ago. “It was just bad luck that I clipped a ledge. But there was no second thoughts about getting back climbing. That didn’t come into the equation,” he says. 
This summer he and Claire climbed extensively in Europe and America, scaling the North Faces of Piz Badile in Italian-Swiss Dolomites and the Diamond on Longs Peak in Colorado. “Most of the new routes I’ve done, Claire would have been with me – or indeed doing her own. We share leading. She’s was all the expeditions with me,” he recounts.
And just last month, Calvin won the masters category of the Irish Climbing League. Boyle states, “Even though he’s a really pure trad climber, it just shows that he’s always pushing himself and trying something new.” 
But it’s Calvin’s behind-the-scenes work that is perhaps his greatest achievement. He only recently stepped down from Bord Oiliúint Sléibhe, the Irish Mountain Training Board and is renowned for taking young climbers under his wing. Calvin was the first Irish member of the International Federation of Mountain Guides, the highest qualification in the world for leading people in the mountains.

Jamie Young, adventurer
Jamie Young, who this year led the North of Disko expedition to Greenland.

At 62 years old, Jamie Young has a lot of impressive adventures under his belt. It all started at 24 with the Observer Single-handed Transatlantic Race in a boat with no engine, radio or even a toilet. The following year, he repeated the ocean crossing, but this time as a honeymoon voyage with his wife Mary before the two returned to Ireland and founded the Killary Adventure Company.
And in recent years, Jamie hasn’t slowed down a bit, continuing to let his “slightly itchy feet” take him – and others – around the world. His achievements include leading a sea kayak trip around South America’s Cape Horn, joining the South Aris adventure that retraced Shackleton’s steps in the Antarctic, and the North of Disko expedition to Greenland this summer. 
By all accounts, Jamie was the heart and soul of the team of 10, who not only sailed from Iceland to Greenland but also undertook some epic climbing and sea kayaking in the Arctic. He showed his amazing leadership abilities and extensive knowledge of the sea by captaining the crew through four intense storms and facilitating the other activities of the expedition. And more importantly, as one crewmember told us, he helped the entire team turn a dream adventure into a real-life accomplishment. 

Team Bold Puppy, ultra runners
The members of Team Bold Puppy – former Outsider deputy editor Heather Irvine together with John Murphy and Rory Arnott – barely knew each other when they set out for RacingThePlanet: Iceland in August. And none of them had ever undertaken an event like this before. The race entailed 250km on foot over six days starting at the Kerlingarfjoll Mountain Range and ending at the famous Blue Lagoon, near Njaovik. 
The going was savagely tough over hardened lava, black sands and steep scree hills. After trekking for more than nine hours (40-50km) a day in adverse weather conditions, all competitors had to look forward to was a cold tent and a freeze-dried meal. 
Irish Team Bold Puppy winning the team event at RacingThePlanet: Iceland in August.

Heather in particular suffered greatly as she got a huge blister on her heel on day three. It then got infected. It was so bad that she was almost forced to quit and was awarded ‘wound of the day’ from that day on. 
She laughs as she recalls the mantra that she says got her through the race. “If it is not painful, it is not worth it.
“My teammates became well accustomed to a high-pitched yelp on the first descent of the day as my dressing was ripped off within my shoe. I tried to put my pain in a little box at the back of my mind.”
And yet, Bold Puppy topped the team leader board when they finished. Heather was also the first woman home in her age category and the seventh woman overall out of almost 90. Nice work guys!

Katie McAnena, windsurfer
Utter the name of the wave Jaws in water sports circles and most peoples’ minds jump to images of world-famous tow surfers like Laird Hamilton and Dave Kalama riding the death-defying wave which reach in excess of 60 feet.
From now on, people can add the name Katie McAnena to that list. On 4 April 2013, the Galway doctor (26) became the first woman ever to windsurf the infamous Hawaii wave.
Katie McAnena, windsurfer

“The sound of it as the wave crashed down, it shook my bones. I was going as fast as I could and the wave would still outrun me. But then when I finally caught the wave, it was unbelievable. The relief and excitement of knowing I was on it and dropping down the face of it, it was unreal. And then looking behind and seeing the sheer size of it and then looking in front to make sure the wave was not going to crash on top of me or break in front of me, it was just amazing,” recalls Katie, adding, “It was dangerous but it was a measured decision. I am very aware of the power of the sea and I am very respectful of it. I’ve been building up to this for years.”
Off the water, it seems that Katie is at the top of her game too, qualifying as a doctor in 2011. In 2013, she took a year out to focus on her sport, training and competing in a number of pro events in Tenerife, the US and Mexico. “I was lucky enough to finish my year off by conquering Jaws. It’s been an incredible year and I have been to some amazing spots.”
Katie is now back working on the surgical training team in Galway.
Ciaran O'Reilly, cyclist
Designed to be one of the most gruelling bike races in the world, the Race Around Ireland comprises 2,172km without planned rest stops, official stages, marshals or a traffic-free course. Each rider (or team) must provide its own support crew and vehicles to look after food, clothing, medical care, bicycle repair, massage, and navigation. In a nutshell, it’s a savage challenge.
Ciaran O'Reilly who came third in the Race Around Ireland 2013.
Some might think that Ciaran O'Reilly, a 43-year-old father of three from Co Meath, had no real business thinking he could compete in this challenge. Sure he had cycled for the past 20 years but it was only in the last four years that he had trained in any way seriously. There wasn’t much time thanks to his tyre business where he worked six or sometimes seven days a week for up to 16 hours a day.
In 2012, he signed up for the first time. But the race showed him what was what. Having broken the 1,000km mark he bowed out with a knee injury. Being classed a DNF sent him home devastated. But in 2013 he was back on the starting line.
This time he trained more seriously and put together a more comprehensive support team, which was headed up by his wife Susan and manned by members of their local cycling club, the Well Oiled Wheelers. The first 48 hours of the event involved battling gale force winds, hailstones and thunder and lightning storms. It was gruelling. Ciaran rode for five days and endured Achilles tendon injuries. But this time, he not only finished the race in 123 hours, he got himself on the podium in third place. 
To really put this achievement in perspective, Ciaran was only beaten by two professional ultra marathon cyclists – Austrian Christoph Strasser and German Bernhard Steinberger. And he bettered the current Ultra Marathon Cycling World Champion, Valerio Zambini – all while raising more than €4.5k for Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre.
“Really it’s down to your crew. You couldn’t do it without them. They are your team,” says Ciaran.

Mary Daly, multi-sport racer
“Life definitely begins at 40!” So says Mary Daly from Westport who had the year of her life in 2013 since turning the big four-0. 
It all started back in 2012 when, with three kids under three-and-a-half, Mary set herself the goal of completing the sprint category of Sea2Summit. “I couldn’t even run 5km when I started. I was literally going from pillar to pillar,” she recalls. 
Mary Daly triumphs in the sprint category of Sea2Summit.
Roll on to November 2013 and Mary took top spot at the Westport race, the icing on the cake of a fabulous 2013. She also won the Connemara Conquest, the Currane Challenge, and the sport category of the Connemara Rough Diamond, as well as coming second in Race2Glory. Pretty impressive for a woman who had last taken part in competitive sport in her teens. 
Rather than finding it difficult to find time to train, Mary says, “It’s brilliant for getting your own headspace when you’ve been at home in the mayhem all day. If I didn’t have that time out, I don’t think I’d have handled it as well. It’s the best thing ever.”
Mary recently went back to work fulltime and says now she gets up early on Thursdays and Saturdays for training. “You just make the time. I’m finished on Saturday by the time they are getting out of the bed.”
As for advice to other people who want to get involved she says, “Start slowly. And set yourself goals. You will get there. You’ll get the breathing. Stick at it. Clubs and groups help too. It’s much easier to go out when it’s lashing.”

Peter Cork and Sarah Coyle, cyclists and adventurers 
It had been a while since partners Peter Cork (59) and Sarah Coyle (58) had done a really long cycle. Back in their 20s, Peter crossed Canada and Sarah pedalled across France. Roll on 30-odd years and the pair decided to head to undertake a 4,500km cycle from Perth in Western Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territories. 
Sarah Coyle (58) who cycled 4,500km unsupported from Perth to Darwin in Australia with her husband Peter (59).
They deliberately chose the area because it is sparsely populated and has big areas of mostly unspoilt country. The pair cycled with no support, other than each other. For two-and-a-half months, they carried all their own food, water (sometimes 30l) and camping equipment. This “turned it into an adventure”, says Sarah.
Some of the high points included the friendly Western Australians, some of whom fed and watered the pair, the vastness of the country, starlit skies and wonderful wildlife (kangaroos, wallabies, emus, dingoes, the occasional snake, and other ‘nasties’). 
Sarah adds, “Coral Bay and Karijini National Park were superb. At Coral Bay, you could swim out to the coral reef from the beach to see some of the best coral in Australia. Karijini entailed a committing cycle inland across very hot and sometimes bleak terrain, but it was worth it. The gorges were spectacular, really picturesque with fabulous clear pools for swimming.” 
As for the low points, “intense heat”, “constant thirst”, “camping spots plagued with ants”, and a lot of “dangerous driving in the Northern Territories”. Sarah adds, “We also passed through towns that had a majority aborigine population and it was grim to see how unable to cope they are with our material culture.” 
Sarah and Peter typically travelled 90km per day, rising at 4.45am and hitting the hay at 6pm. As for how a married couple cope doing a cycling challenge of this magnitude, Sarah states, “We are both nearly 60 years old. You learn to behave yourself with each other – to have manners, as they say in Cavan!”

Henry Tindal, adventurer
Even thinking about getting on a plane to Sydney, Australia, might make you reconsider going so the concept of cycling there is mind-boggling. Even Sligo man Henry Tindal (29), who just completed that feat, agrees.
Henry Tindal (29) who cycled solo from Ireland to Australia in less than nine months.
When asked did he ever think about giving up, Henry answers ruefully, “Yes. Until I got to Tehran, giving up was all I ever thought about. I kept on trying to find a good enough excuse to do it – I had said I was going to cycle to Australia so I couldn't just give up for no reason. But after Tehran all I wanted to do was get to Sydney.” 
Tindal left Ireland on 29 February 2012 and arrived in Sydney on 15 November 2013 having cycled solo for 28,800km across Europe, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Southeast Asia, seven Indonesian islands, East Timor and the across the middle of Australia via Adelaide to Sydney. He averaged 100km+ per day and slept in everywhere from a tent to under motorway bridges, on beaches, on river islands, in deserts, and the bush. 
Tindal says his lowest point was definitely the first morning “when I woke up hungover and realised that I was actually going to do this ride. I also had a pretty bad day in Turkey where I was so close to getting a bus back to Istanbul to fly home. But low points are followed by high points. That night I made it to Cappadocia, and seeing the beauty of the landscape, I could think of nothing better to do than to keep cycling.”
He adds, “Some of the countries with the worst reputation in the west were the safest countries to travel through – like Iran. People were so welcoming and friendly.”
Henry under took his epic adventure for the Irish Youth Foundation charity. “I dropped out of school when I was 16 and moved out of home. I spent a couple of years working in McDonalds and other jobs before my parents said they would give me a chance to get my life back on track and finish school. I chose the Irish Youth Foundation because they were the closest thing I could find to a charity that helps Irish children like me, who've gone a bit off the rails.”

Eoin Keith, ultra runner
It may just be the understatement of the year to say that 2013 was a huge year for ultra-runner Eoin Keith. 
Eoin Keith, ultra runner
In August, Eoin placed second in the vets category (40-50), and 20th overall, in the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc – the epic 166km race which takes place across the French, Italian and Swiss Alps and going through numerous mountain passes of more than 2500m. It is widely regarded as the toughest foot race in Europe.
His time of 24h 44mins was close to five hours quicker than the last time he completed the full course, despite having huge blisters on both feet having ignored small stones in his shoes on the first descent. “There were literally tears in my eyes at the finish. I was beaten by about 30 minutes in the end. That’s actually pretty close. I reckon we would have had a great race for it if it hadn’t been for those blisters. You know you’ve got a problem when the doctors in the medical tent are standing around taking pictures of your feet. I literally couldn’t walk as soon as I stopped.”
The UTMB wasn’t the only notch for Eoin’s belt this year either. At the ultra running world championships in Holland in May, he was the highest placed Irish athlete covering a distance of 234km in just 24 hours. Two weeks later, he broke his own Wicklow Way record with a time of 12h25. Two weeks after that again, he broke the Mourne Way Ultra record with a time of in a time of 7h39. Six weeks later in July he smashed his own PB and the Irish 24-hour track record covering 244.664km in 24 hours. 
Eoin was recently named Ultra Athlete of the Year by Athletics Ireland. Not at all bad for someone who opted for hillwalking and golf over running until he was 30! 
To cap off his year, Eoin just got married to Helen Dixon. Fittingly, he popped the question to her after they both finished the Irish 24-hour race. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

Owen O'Keefe, distance swimmer
When Owen O'Keefe swam in the river Blackwater as a boy, little did he know that he would one day become the first person to swim the entire 60km stretch from his native Fermoy to Youghal in the space of just over 12 hours.
Owen O’Keefe swam the 60km of the River Blackwater from Fermoy to Youghal. (Photo: Donal Buckley – www.loneswimmer.com)
“I used to go past the river thinking; ‘Wouldn't it be amazing to swim from Fermoy all the way to the sea” says the 20-year-old UCC student. “I had already done the route in stages, which encouraged me to think that swimming it in one go was very doable. I like to be fast when I'm swimming but going further, swimming iconic distances, is always the big challenge.”
The swim wasn't without its logistical challenges. The first section of water was shallow, leading to fears both of injuring himself on rocks and for the safety of his two-man kayak support team.
Owen had already previously shown himself to be a passionate and driven swimmer, taking part in a two-way, six-man relay of the English Channel in July, breaking the Irish two-way relay record, coming within three minutes of the World record and helping to raise €14,500 for Down Syndrome Ireland.
“When you swim long distances, you get into a zone,” he says. “In the Channel, you see nothing but when you swim 60km of the Blackwater river, there's lots to see and you see it all from a totally different perspective.
“Distance swimming removes you from everything else. You're exposed and have to accept everything as it is at the time but it's the most fantastic feeling to know you can achieve it.”

Ger Devine, The Camino Gent
Ger Devine on his 27-day, 1000km Camino de Santiago trek.

Ger Devine deserves an award for pure craic following his 27-day, 1000km Camino de Santiago trek. The 38-year-old Dublin firefighter and stand-up comedian had planned on completing the Camino in one go during September but ended up walking the entire route wearing a €900 Louis Copeland suit and runners, and carrying nothing but a briefcase and umbrella. All as a result of a dare from his pal PJ Gallagher.
Apart from walking between 40 and 60km a day, Ger had to find the mental strength to endure 'who's that lunatic?' looks from fellow pilgrims and sleeping outside in cold temperatures with just a silk sleeping bag liner when hostel guardians told him there was no room at the inn.
“In one sense, I was the best-dressed person on the Camino but I looked like a tramp,” says the cycling, hurling and hill-running fan. “Some pilgrims and some albergue bosses didn't get what I was doing and for four nights in a row I was told there was no space. They're supposed to be Christian people and I began to really hate them for making me sleep outside.
“The Camino is a spiritual experience for many people but when someone asked how I was doing, I said; 'Well, I'm losing my religion and I've started drinking again after a break of one-and-a-half years.’ I'm not sure that was the desired outcome!”
Best part of the Camino? “Meeting other Irish people, often by taking out the sliothar I was carrying in the briefcase in memory of my uncle, who had died a month earlier.”
Worst part of the camino? “Carrying that b%*&ard briefcase!”
Ger's next adventure will take him to Rome, where he and PJ Gallagher will spend the entire visit sightseeing dressed as a panto horse. We kid you not.

Nuala Moore, distance and ice swimmer
In what she calls her “incredibly normal life” in Dingle, Co Kerry, Nuala Moore owns a bed linen shop. In her other life, she's one of the most extreme sportswomen we have come across.
The 40-something's achievements during 2013 have been quite literally breathtaking.
In Tyumen, Siberia, she swam in a pool that had to be opened with a chainsaw, with a water temperature of 0.5°C degrees and air temperature of -33°C. For this challenge, she consulted mountaineering adventurer Mike Shea for advice on how not to take such potentially lethal cold air into her lungs.
Nuala Moore prepares for one of her cold water swims by sitting in an ice bucket.
In March, Nuala travelled to Murmansk in Russia, the largest city inside the Arctic Circle, and became the first Irish swimmer and fifth known woman in the world to swim 1,000m at 0.5°C water temperature.
But if you think that's it, think again. In July, she and Donegal swimmer Anne Marie Ward joined a top international team to complete the first and possibly only ever swim from Russia to America, crossing the notorious Bering Strait. Without wetsuits.
“Swimming in water that cold has in intense impact on the body's organs,” says Nuala. “It's like doing a marathon in 20 minutes. There is an initial fear and anxiety attached to it; you have to make sure there's no drama, keep everything very calm.
“In the Bering Strait, we swam in relays of 15 minutes each. That's the longest you can maintain that intense focus. After each swim, we had to have ECGS and other health checks; the potential for risk is huge.
“I faced 14-15 foot waves and after one swim, had trouble getting back onto the boat. Just imagine being caught by the arse of your togs and pulled on by a member of the Russian military. It was an insane experience but while it sounds extremely dangerous, I prefer to say that it's extremely managed. You have to keep a constant check list and have the highest level of attention to detail.”
Nuala has been nominated for 2013 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year.

Liam Delahunty, adventure racer
A total newcomer to adventure racing, Liam Delahunty set himself a target in June of completing 24 races in 18 months, a tall order even for experienced athletes on the AR circuit. His reasons for taking up the challenge have inspired us.
Liam Delahunty who has MS taking part in WAR. (Photo: Pixels Promotions)
The 35-year-old sales manager from Waterford was diagnosed with MS eight years ago. He battled depression and the fear of ending up in a wheelchair before getting involved in an exercise programme run by MS Ireland that completely changed his outlook.
“This year I put my foot down,” he says. “I decided that I have MS; it doesn't have me.
“When you're first diagnosed, you're told to sit back and relax, not to exert yourself. For a long time, I did that. It doesn't work.
“Also, there has been a lot of negative coverage of MS in the media. I want to challenge perceptions of the condition. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20-28 and I want to tell other young people that it's not the end, you can move forward in your life.
“I wanted a tough challenge and I want to prove a point, I want to say to the neurologists who tell MS sufferers not to exert themselves; 'right back at you!'
“So far, I've completed five races, the biggest of which was the Killarney adventure race. I raced 59km and couldn't believe it. Afterwards I rang my neurologist to tell him I had just run, cycled and kayaked 59km around Killarney and he said; 'What, over the weekend?' and I said; 'No, in four hours!’
Liam's biggest event in 2014 will be the Itera expedition adventure race in Wales, which involves five days of continuous racing over 600km.
Liam hopes to raise €15,000 for MS Ireland with his adventure racing challenge.

Peter O'Connell, mountaineer
Tuam man Peter O'Connell became the 33rd Irish man, but more importantly the first Connaught man, to successfully climb Mount Everest in May of this year, raising thousands for Pieta House in the process. He dedicated his ascent to his cousin Lorcan Roche who died by suicide at the age of 29.
Peter O’Connell, who scaled Everest with the help of just one Sherpa, Mingma Tsiring.
Conscious of the reputation that Everest now has for high-altitude tourism, 30-year-old Peter took a different route to the top, eschewing the high-cost commercial expedition groups to climb the south side from Nepal with just one Sherpa.
“I like a bit of hardship and isolation,” says the quantity surveyor. “But it helped that I had the best Sherpa on the mountain, 39-year-old Mingma Tsiring, who has been up Everest 19 times in total.
“The more you pay to climb Everest, the easier it gets for you. I paid a fraction of what some people pay so I didn't have anyone carrying gear for me. That's not to say that Everest doesn't involve a massive physical and mental challenge. Even if you pay €50,000, you still have to climb it. Anyone who thinks it's easy should go out and give it a go.
“The final two hours to the summit were the best two hours of my life. We were the first up that morning. The weather was good for us. There was literally nothing to stop us and we just knew we were going to make it. When we got to the summit, we were the only ones there. It far surpassed anything I had expected. I cried like a girl.”

Paul Gosney, Enduroman
Paul Gosney speaks with such modesty about his achievements that for a moment, you almost forget exactly what it is that this enduro-man has done in 2013.
Paul Gosney who completed three Ironmen back to back in 2013 to raise money for charity Bees for Battens.
The 45-year-old dad of two, who hails from Kent and has lived near Killarney for 20 years, completed triple Ironman event LLD in September. Yes people, that's 336 miles cycling, 7.2 miles swimming and 78 miles running, the last 20 of those miles spent running with agonising foot blisters.
Paul was just seven athletes at the event starting line, which took competitors from Landsend to London to Dover. And he was one of only four finishers, completing the course in just over 69 hours. He spent 34 hours on his bike and slept for barely three hours throughout the event.
“The toughest moment was getting my feet taped up, thinking about making that next step and knowing that it would hurt a lot. It did hurt for quite a few miles afterwards but I don't like not finishing. I suppose it's about mental strength really.”
An experienced triathlete and Ironman competitor, Paul had already completed a double Ironman earlier as a warm-up in 2013. He is driven to complete his mammoth tasks to raise funds for the charity Bees for Battens (Battens disease is a brain disorder that affects young children) and its sister charity Liam's Lodge.
He fits training in between working for Killarney County Council and raising two young children with his wife – going for early morning or late evening runs and cycles.
“Taking part in events like LLD is very difficult at the time,” says Paul. “I won't say I enjoy doing them but I enjoy finishing them. There's no big secret or skill to it; it's not like I'm a mountaineer choosing routes. I just keep going until someone tells me to stop.
For the pure art of understating his achievements, Paul deserves his place on these pages.

David Burns and Maghnus Collins, adventurers
Spending 16 days in total wilderness and paddling three quarters of the notoriously dangerous 6,300km Yangtze river are amongst David Burns' most vivid memories of 2013.
The 29-year-old Coleraine man and fellow adventurer Maghnus Collins from Limerick crossed the heart (and Himalayas) of Asia on their 'Silk Roads to Shanghai' trip, covering 14,000km by bike, raft and foot.
David Burns and Maghnus Collins who travelled 14,000km by bike, raft and foot across Asia on their 'Silk Roads to Shanghai' trip.
Having previously cycled through Africa and completed a Sahara desert race together, the journey from Istanbul to Shanghai proved to be their most difficult undertaking yet.
The pair paddled more of the Yangtze than has ever been paddled before, encountering danger and isolation along the way. “The Yangtze rapids are very dangerous,” says David. “A lot of people die there. At one point, Maghnus capsized and lost everything that he had in the boat with him. 
“We spent 16 days in absolute wilderness, enduring extreme heat and cold and encountering no other people whatsoever. We considered ourselves very lucky to have the chance to be in a place like that.”
David and Maghnus raised €40,000 for the Selfhelp Africa charity from the trip and have raised a total of €100,000 from their various adventures.

Mike O'Shea and Clare O'Leary, ice-cap adventurers/mountaineers
Mike O'Shea and Clare O'Leary finished 2012 on a high note, completing the fifth-ever crossing of the northern Patagonian ice cap. 2013 started on an equally strong note as they completed the fifth-ever crossing of Lake Baikal in Siberia, traversing 640km in 26 days on skis, skates and foot.
Travelling the entire distance of the world's largest lake (which provides 20% of the world's freshwater supply) was part of Mike and Clare's Ice Project, the focus of which is to cross every ice cap in the world and attempt to get to the North Pole in 2014.
Mike O'Shea and Clare O'Leary completed the fifth-ever crossing of Lake Baikal in Siberia.
“Normally, Baikal lake is 80% ice and 20% snow” says Dingle-based Mike. “When we did it, it was 70% snow and 30% ice so we walked, skied and skated. Probably the toughest moments of the trip involved us both being blown backwards and upside down on the ice, hanging on for dear life. That happened five times.
“Another enduring memory is the friendliness of the Russian people who wanted to make sure we were okay. People would stop and take out a bottle of vodka and shot glasses. It got to the point where we'd say to each other; “Oh no, they're not stopping are they?!
“Also, the ice heats up during the day then cools down at night, making a cracking sound. I remember not being able to sleep at night because of the sound of it cracking beneath us.”
2013 was a very busy year for Mike, who took on the late Ian McKeever's work with Kilimanjaro Achievers, completing seven Kili summits and crossing the southern Kilimanjaro ice cap at 19,000 feet on a solo trip. He also helped build a 36-bed orphanage in Tanzania.
Mike and Clare have been training for their North Pole attempt for four years and hope conditions will prove favourable in 2014. In 2016, they plan to complete a crossing of South Georgia to mark the 100th anniversary of Ernest Shackleton and Tom Crean's adventure. www.iceproject.org

Dominic Burns, climber 
Dominic Burns competing at the European Youth Cup, Bouldering.

In less than four years, 16-year-old Dominic Burns from Belfast has morphed from a boy who wasn't really sporty into a champion climber. In 2013, he retained his title as European bouldering champion in his age group and is also number one in lead climbing in Ireland (in his age group).

Dominic was barely a teenager when he first went climbing with his local youth group. “I tried it and was instantly hooked,” he says. “I do a lot of lead climbing but bouldering is my big passion. Climbing is different to other sports. When you're competing, there's a friendly atmosphere. You're talking to the other competitors and trying to help each other.”
Youth climbing is enjoying substantial growth in Ireland and Dominic, with the help of coach Eddie Cooper, is leading the charge. He came 20th in the World Youth Climbing Championships in Canada in September and has reached five international finals, the first Irish climber to do so.
Not only is the secondary level student winning lots of plaudits, he's also giving back to the sport he loves. During 2013, he and Eddie Cooper ran a 10-week climbing course for deaf children in Belfast. The course ran every Sunday morning, whether or not Dominic had been competing the day before.
He's surprised by his own success. “It's been a shock to the system,” he says. “I never thought I'd get anywhere near where I'm at now. My coach pushes me to train harder, eat better, stay fit and push myself. He's one of the people that really inspires me.”

Juju Jay (AKA Jason Handyside), organiser of free running group
39-year-old Juju Jay stands out during IMRA hill runs thanks to his dreadlocks and tattoos but the chatty Dubliner is noticeable for another reason too. Having moved to Glendalough a couple of years ago to spend more time in the hills, he now shares his passion for trail and ultra running with other enthusiasts, for free.
JuJu Jay shares his passion for trail and ultra running with other enthusiasts through his free running group 'Mud, Sweat and Runners'.
An experienced cyclist, Juju got into running two years ago after putting weight on while living in England. He very firmly caught the trail running bug and lost four stone as a result. During 2013, he ran 50km of the Wicklow Way in seven hours and completed regular 40km runs in the Wicklow hills.
He also set up a running group on Facebook called 'Mud, Sweat and Runners', inspired by the book 'Mud Sweat and Tears'. The idea behind the group is to take both beginner and advanced trail runners on Wicklow routes that they may not be familiar with. Juju doesn't charge anything but for the sake of good karma, participants are free to make a donation.
Nicknamed Juju Jay for his positive, happy disposition, he lives a simple, self-sustained life with his partner in Wicklow and wants to share his love of the hills with others. “I'll take runners on any distance from 1km to 50km,” he says. “I'm in the mountains seven days a week and everyone is welcome to come running with me.”
One thing is certain: as well as being shown Wicklow's many running trails, anyone who takes up the offer will enjoy a great Juju chat along the way!

Moire O’Sullivan, adventure racer
Well-known adventure racer Moire O’Sullivan was competing in the 24-hour Raid races in late 2012 when she first thought she might be pregnant. Her thoughts were correct but instead of hanging up her runners after confirming the happy news, the charity worker not only continued to cycle, swim and run but won podium places in adventure races both while she was pregnant and shortly after giving birth.
Moire O’Sullivan, adventure racer
An inspiration to other female athletes and mothers-to-be, Moire cycled until she was 28 weeks pregnant, ran up until the 30-week point and continued swimming up until the day before she gave birth to son Aran.
At five months pregnant, she was first woman home in the Shore to Summit race. Her race consisted of a 13km run, 15km cycle, a run up and down Sliabh Sneacht, a 25km cycle and a final 2km run. “I took a time penalty to not complete the 1.5km kayak section,” she says. “I was finding it difficult getting on and off the sofa so I reckoned getting in and out of a kayak might prove even more difficult,” she recalls.
Moire was back on her bike two weeks after having Aran and in early November, just four months after giving birth, she came third in the Sea to Summit race in Westport.
“I did the race at a slightly slower pace than normal,” she says “and was surprised and delighted to find myself on the podium.
“It's very difficult for pregnant women who are into sport. They're given a lot of mixed messages. The best advice anyone can take is to listen to your body. If you're already into sport, you can keep doing stuff. Once you feel okay, you can go for that run or cycle.
“I would recommend anyone to read Susie Mitchell’s book 'Pregnancy to Podium'. She found a good gynaecologist who told her; 'Listen to your body and don't do kick-boxing.’ Four or five months after giving birth, she won the World Track Championships in Manchester.
“When you have your baby, your life changes but you don't have to lose the person you are. I'm far happier when I can get out on the bike for an hour or two and get some space for myself.”

Kelvin Batey, BMX Masters World Champion
Kelvin Batey taking part in the BMX World Championships in July 2013 where he won gold. (Photo: Jerry Lundrum – www.bmxmania.com.jpg)

Earlier this year, Kelvin Batey showed the world what he was made of when he raced to a long-awaited victory in the master’s event at the BMX World Championships in New Zealand. Kelvin previously placed second and third in the world championship podium in 2005 and 2007 Kelvin but 2013 was his year. The July 2013 event saw the 31-year-old PE teacher steal the title from pre-race favourites Argentinian duo Javier Colombo and Cristian Becerine. 
“It’s taken 25 years, but it’s definitely worth the wait,” Kelvin said after he took the gold home. And where home is for Kelvin is an interesting subject. Though born and based in the UK, Kelvin recently discovered his Irish roots. “My mother was adopted, and we recently found out my granny was Irish.” It was this discovery that led Kelvin to don the green shirt after failing to qualify for the London Olympics for the UK. 
“The thing I’ve learned is representing your country at international level isn't just about putting on the jersey and getting the results, it’s also about developing the sport and making sure that you put the time into it out of competition.” 
It’s this dedication that has resulted in his involvement in the resurrection and development of the sport on both sides of the pond. In fact, recently, he has included two young Irish riders on his BMX team, Route 55. 

Donncha Cuttriss, cyclist and fundraiser
Patrick’s Hill in Cork is about as close to San Francisco as you’ll get in Ireland. So cycling up it – 150 times – is no mean feat. That’s what Donncha Cuttriss did this year in September. It may only be 80 miles in distance but this epic back-to-back challenge involved 22,000 feet of climbing on a hill with a 23 per cent gradient.
The effort was all about raising money for a little girl, Abbey McGeough, who needs to travel to America for a series of operations. The little girl is currently confined to a wheelchair and needs surgery to walk again.
Donncha Cuttriss cycled Patrick’s Hill in Cork 150 times to raise money for Abbey McGeough medical treatment.
The cycle started at 6am and lasted until 7pm that evening. That's 13 hours cycling and a whole lot of up! Not only did Donncha, who served as a member of the Irish army for 20 years, complete this feat but he did it just seven days after competing in the Race Around Ireland – a six-day 2,100km non-stop endurance cycle around Ireland. Donncha is the only person to have completed this race three times and during this race, he raised awareness for a suicide prevention programme in Mayfield, Cork. 
In additional to that, two years previously, the Corkonian also became the first Irish person to cycle and complete the famous Race Across America (RAMM) solo. This time Donncha helped raise money for the Aisling International Charity, which provides help to those suffering from various addictions in Ireland. 
In the words of his adventure-racing buddy Chris Caulfield: “Donncha is an amazing athlete and person. He is very shy and unassuming and would never in a million years feel he is worthy of any sort of nomination. But I think he deserves some recognition for all the effort and work he puts into helping these worthy causes.”

Frank Cronin, adventurer and filmmaker
There is a thin line that exists between madness and genius – a line that is known all too well to Frank Cronin, adventurer, filmmaker, comedian and founder of glowpunk.com (an Outsider favourite for LOLs and sarcastic adventure videos). 
Frank Cronin, who camped for a year of college because he couldn’t afford fees and rent.
Last year, when Frank returned to Ireland to complete a BA degree in psychology and Spanish in NUI Galway, he soon realised he would struggle to pay rent for accommodation for the year. As a result of this, and a recent birthday gift of a tent, Frank made the decision to camp on campus for seven months to save on rent. 

Explaining his choice to live in a tent rather than borrow money from his family, the 31-year-old from Templeogue in Dublin said, “I … just thought why not? As well as saving money, I guess my main overarching goal was to demonstrate to the young people of Ireland that no matter how bleak or difficult your situation, sometimes you have to use your own resourcefulness and resilience to solve your problems rather than hoping that our Government or someone else will work it out.” 
Frank, who is now based in the warmer climes of California, states “Weirdly, I was actually never bored because I was nearly always outside. I went to bed early and I woke to the sound of the birds.”

Pádraig Mallon, open-water swimmer
Pádraig Mallon is a man of many talents. The Northern Irish endurance athlete is an Ironman, ice swimmer, double Channel swimmer and events coordinator. Pádraig also has two Guinness World Record titles for team participation in ‘the greatest distance open-water relay’ and ‘the greatest distance relay run’ under his belt. 
Pádraig Mallon, open-water swimmer
But perhaps his most abiding talent is his ability to inspire those around him. He is the vice chairman of the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association and one of the organisers of the Irish National Long Distance Championships. Pádraig is also renowned for helping other event organisers with their calendared events, marshalling, aiding at registration or, at the finish line, encouraging others in achieving their goal. 
It was all these year-round efforts that led to a nomination for Pádraig as the 2013 World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year. According to Aoife McCourt, Pádraig’s cousin and right-hand woman, “He is a remarkable guy, always dreaming up exciting events for the public to participate in and running an extremely successful season of events in and on the water. His quiet nature and unassuming ways are what make us even keener to put his achievements and community spirit on the world's stage.” 
In his own words: “If your dreams don't scare you – you’re not dreaming big enough.”

Annalise Murphy, European Champion sailor
Annalise Murphy winning the Laser Radial European Championships in September. (Photo: Richard Langdon, Ocean Images)

After the disappointment of placing fourth in the London Olympics in 2012, 23-year-old Annalise Murphy came back fighting in 2013, winning the laser radial class in the European Championships in Dublin in September, her first major title. Elsewhere on the awards front, she won the Irish Sailing Achievement of the Year award in March and has been nominated for racing performance of the year by Yachts and Yachting magazine.
During the year, Annalise also competed in the first-ever foiling moth championships in Hawaii and spent three weeks training in Rio in preparation for the 2016 Olympic games. An average day's training back in Dublin meanwhile consists of a four-hour cycle in the mountains, intense strength and conditioning workouts and water sessions.
This year hasn't been without its ups and downs for the Rathfarnham girl. She came 23rd in the Worlds in China in early October. “Not my greatest moment but it gives me a lot to work on this winter in training,” she told fans on her social media pages. “I've had a really great season this year which I can take lots of points from and I'm looking forward to coming back fighting next year.”

Mark Pollock, trail blazer 
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for years, Mark Pollock needs no introduction. This is the man who went blind at 22 but went on to race to the South Pole, run six marathons in seven days in the Gobi Desert, complete the Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, and complete the Round Ireland Yacht Race in a two-man team. 
Mark Pollock, trail blazer
Then in July 2010 Mark fell out a window and was paralysed from the waist down. Yet he continues to break new ground in a bid to find a cure for spinal injury. These days he is back on his feet using a high-tech exoskeleton – a pair of computer-powered bionic trousers – that helps him stand and walk in the gym. He can now do about 2,800 steps an hour which is about a third to half of normal.
In a nutshell he redefines the word ‘inspiring’. In fact, at last year’s Outsider People of the Year awards, he was awarded Most Inspiring Outsider. However, he is still firmly on this list as he continues to blow our minds. 
These eloquent but excerpted words from Mark’s blog probably sum him up better than anything we could ever say. 
“In preparation for the South Pole Race I learnt a lot about Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen, the polar explorers who carved those first trails into the ice in Antarctica. Their stories inspired and excited me, but I never felt like an explorer during the race. They were the first, the pioneers – that was their privilege, their courage, their sacrifice… I, and everyone who came after them, have simply been adventurers on a different type of quest.
“Over the last few months I have begun to make sense of the irony of where I find myself now. The moment I fell and was left paralysed everything changed. No matter how much I fight against it, it has. Forever. When I raced to the South Pole I was an adventurer, now I am not… If I dwell upon what I have lost too much, it could break me. Instead I see the irony of my new blind and paralysed self. My identity as an adventurer is gone, yet I am closer to the polar explorers than I ever was while skiing to the South Pole.
“I roll to Trinity every day in my wheelchair and strap my paralysed legs into my robotic legs and I walk. I walk miles and miles of uncharted steps. Success is uncertain, maybe even unlikely…
“Of all the things I have ever done this has the greatest chance of failure over success… We don’t know where the cure is. Out there, somewhere, like the South Pole… 
“So, I am embracing that irony and this new identity – former South Pole adventurer, now paralysed explorer on a mission to find and connect people on the frontier of spinal injury recovery… If not for me, for the millions of people like me around the world, trying to live in the spirit of those early explorers and believing that just because it hasn’t been found doesn’t mean that it won’t be.” (Read the full blog post here

Tickets for the Outsider People of the Year Awards are available here and cost €10, simply select 'People of the Year Awards' from the drop down list and enter the amount. See you there! 

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Outsider People of the Year 2013

We love this time of year. It’s when the Outsider team gets together and compiles (argues about!) our list.