Final preparations under way for Derry’s Hard As Oak challenge

Participants will be getting muddied up during the event.
Participants will be getting muddied up during the event.

Derry’s first extreme obstacle course race will be the toughest in Ireland, organisers have vowed as final preparations for the event get under way.

The Hard As Oak 10K challenge is expected to attract at least 1,000 competitors to the Oaks Estate in the Faughan Valley on Saturday, August 29 this year.

The Derry race will not be for the feint hearted and is being billed as 'Ireland's hardest 10km obstacle course challenge'.

The Derry race will not be for the feint hearted and is being billed as 'Ireland's hardest 10km obstacle course challenge'.

Ireland’s newest endurance test is expected to push entrants to the limit with 50 man-made and natural tests along the picturesque route.

Features of the race course include a cliff jump, slip’n’slide, gorge climb, swamp, mature woodland, walled gardens, marsh, lanes, gullies, paths, streams, rivers, trenches, fire jump, stone stairways and open fields.

The organisers are no strangers to large scale outdoor pursuits, having a well established paint-balling business as well as having introduced zorbing and giant swings locally.

For Hard As Oak they have partnered up with Foyle Search and Rescue, along with support from a number of other local organisations, including Visit Derry and Derry City Council.

It’s a really good course. We built the site respecting what is naturally there - gorges, streams, old paths.

Richard Allen

Richard Allen, event director, has been busy clearing pathways and areas of the estate that has remained untouched for hundreds of years.

“It’s a really good course,” he said. “We built the site respecting what is naturally there- gorges, streams, old paths.

“We are very conscious of getting people access to certain areas and are working with the Woodland Trust and the Irish Society to facilitate that.

“I have been an avid thrill seeker for years and have undertaken and enjoyed numerous endurance events. After my experiences I thought why is there not one closer to home? I was lucky to be in a position where many different government bodies and charities allowed me to bring all these different agencies together and host Hard as OAK.

Participants will be gettung mucked to the eyeballs.

Participants will be gettung mucked to the eyeballs.

“We are selling a good lot of tickets We are looking at 1,000 people for the day and possibly an additional day.

“We are also having an ‘Apri Mud’ party after the event in the Walled City Brewery at Ebrington. Again we are trying to get people into the city afterwards.”

Mr Allen said there has been a lot of interest from individuals, boot camps and gyms and sports clubs across the north west and beyond, while local businesses have expressed interest in submitting teams.

“It is the hardest 10K obstacle course in Ireland. It is open to individuals and to teams of 10 or more,” he said.

Competitiors will face a few uphill battles through rough terrain.

Competitiors will face a few uphill battles through rough terrain.

“We are quietly confident it will be a success. Obstacle course racing is the fastest growing sport in the world.”

The cost for participating is £46.23 for an individual and £39 per person in a group.

Everyone taking part will be given a commemorative T-shirt.

“We are also having an ‘Apri Mud’ party after the event in the Walled City Brewery at Ebrington, and this will bring people into the city centre afterwards.”

Mr Allen said this was part of the ethos to ensure the event benefits the city as much as possible.

Mr Allen said that Derry City Council and especially Tommy McCallion and Jennifer O’Donnell have been instrumental in getting Hard As oak off the ground.

Competitors will gather to celebrate their achievements at the Walled City Brewery, Ebrington following the event.

Competitors will gather to celebrate their achievements at the Walled City Brewery, Ebrington following the event.

A day-long festival featuring music, fire pits, face paintings, food trucks will be held on the Saturday at the Oaks Estate to keep entrants and spectators entertained.

Registration for the Hard as OAK event is now open. The cost for participating is £46.23 for an individual and £39 per person in a group. Everyone taking part will be given a special Hard As Oak T-shirt.

For more information visit www.hardasoak.com or follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Hard-as-OAK/ or Twitter www.twitter.com/HardAsOAKRace.

Oaks Estate will host hordes of competitors during the Hard As Oak challenge.

Oaks Estate will host hordes of competitors during the Hard As Oak challenge.

A series of obstacles and features will be dotted along the 10k route.

A series of obstacles and features will be dotted along the 10k route.