Women of Donegal are invited to swap the sofa for the saddle as training begins for the 2018 Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Challenge.

Arthur McMahon, Team Donegal’s founder, recently held an open evening to encourage and inspire local women to join an 8 person ladies only team for Team Donegal Oil and take on the 555k cycle along Donegal’s Wild Atlantic Coastline.

A huge number of women came along to the event at Donegal Oil Company looking for inspiration, encouragement and to express their interest in taking part in Donegal’s biggest cycle challenge.

And they got it!

Arthur McMahon, Team Donegal Oil, Nikki Bradley, The Motivation Factory and Rory Kennedy, Smart Renewables.

Arthur McMahon, explained to the women how the process worked after they register their expression of interest, what was involved and how Team Donegal Oil would help them complete this endurance challenge.

Arthur McMahon commented, “Everyone who wants to be included needs to commit, they need to be self motivated and work as part of not only an 8 person team but as part of an overall larger support crew and each individual will have a chance to contribute their own strengths to ensure the team’s success.

“It’s not just about completing the challenge though, but enjoying the journey and having fun, making new friends and participating. I was overwhelmed to see the response to our Facebook Post calling out for ladies to register their expression of interest for this challenge.

“Although we have to narrow it down to an 8 person ladies team, we will also need a ladies crew and back-up support. I wish everyone of you ladies the very best of luck”. says Arthur.

Motivation and inspiration for the challenge came from Nikki Bradley and former team member Grania McGinty.

Grania McGinty and her family before she took on the 2017 challenge

Grania McGinty, from Downings a busy working mum, took part earlier this year in the “Couch to 555k” Challenge.

She look back on her experience and recounted how the 8 person team gelled, which led to them successfully completing the challenge, all of whom had never done anything like this before.

Grania gave a great piece of advice: “You all must go into this with the mindset not only to #haveago but to enjoy it and have fun.”

“Myself and my other team members have become great friends since day 1 and still take part in challenges together and we are so grateful and thankful to Arthur McMahon from Team Donegal Oil for giving us this amazing opportunity and encouraging us to get off the couch. We will all be friends for many many years to come.”

The evening also featured Donegal’s inspirational speaker and motivator, Nikki Bradley from the Motivation Factory.

Nikki Bradley

This young woman from Donegal has taken on and completed many extreme challenges herself, many thought of as impossible over the years.

Adaptive adventurer Nikki was delighted to be able to provide inspiration and encouragement to the ladies in the room.

Nikki told her story of battling bone cancer (Ewing’s Sarcoma) at sixteen and receiving a second total right hip replacement at the age of 26. In 2013, Nikki set up a fitness based awareness campaign called Fighting Fit For Ewing’s where she regularly participates in physical challenges to highlight the importance of exercise for rehabilitation.

Nikki’s story was warmly felt throughout the room and as she said herself to the guests, “If I can do what I’ve done, anyone can set their mind to take part in any challenge that will improve not only their fitness but their mental health wellness and by taking part in a team of ladies novice cyclists, like this one, will be a journey that before you would not have had a chance to participate in and one that you certainly will never forget.

“The fact that a company like Donegal Oil have had the foresight to set up a Social Corporate Responsibility part of their business to encourage people to participate in activities to improve body and mind, at no cost to the participants, is truly amazing and I wish everyone on this journey every success.

“I am delighted to see so many women getting active and this is the first step in your own individual journeys, the fact that you are here tonight says it all, good luck ladies.”

Shaun Stewart, organiser of the Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Cycle Challenge, gave a simple outline of the 555k Cycle Challenge route and how to fit in certain parts of the challenge route into an overall training programme.

Shaun said “We did have some all-ladies teams participate last year, and we are delighted to have Team Donegal Oil encourage a novice team of ladies to take on the challenge next year. We also welcome anyone who perhaps won’t make the team to consider entering a team themselves. Going by the amount of interest expressed and the ladies present, we could easily make up 10 teams.”

Arthur McMahon concluded: “Team Donegal Oil was set up to encourage and motivate people who are sitting on the couch, thinking of doing something active and who would love the opportunity of a support team to help them to just simply #haveago at anything that will increase their fitness levels and mindfulness and just get them off the couch.

“We all know that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind and we all need support and encouragement sometimes. This is Team Donegal Oil’s third year and we are continually trying to encourage more people to join us and we are delighted by the response from right across the county from an amazing bunch of ladies.

“I would like to wish these determined, motivated ladies well with their application and look forward to training which will start soon. These ladies will #haveago and we will do this together.” concluded Arthur McMahon.

To find out how you can take part, visit Team Donegal Oil on Facebook here.