File photo, not necessarily of either Murphy or Flood. SHUTTERSTOCK
wicklow way challenge

The men battling blisters and 'nonsense' to complete the 130km Wicklow Way hike in 48 hours

John Murphy and Chris Flood are planning to hike the whole way from Dublin to Clonegal in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.

THERE ARE NO shortcuts, no secret methods to make it all feel a little less taxing.

All John Murphy and Chris Flood can do to prepare for their big trek in aid of cancer research next month is to hike, hike and hike some more.

For months, they’ve done just that. Trudging through rain, mud and snow to put miles into their legs. Because on June 20 the two Dubliners will set out on the Wicklow Way aiming to put the 130 kilometres of terrain between Dublin’s Marlay Park and Clonegal, County Carlow, behind them in less than 48 hours.

The recommended retail price allows at least six days for the journey, but that’s if you value sight-seeing, picnics, sleep or the soles of your feet.

To achieve their goal Murphy and Flood will have to sustain a pace between four and five kilometres per hour on bumpy, hilly and even wet ground.

Seriously, lads. Why?

“Why not?” Is Murphy’s reasoning. “Then we said if we’re going to do it, then you might as well try and do it for charity.”

And so the Wicklow Way Challenge was born and the proceeds promised the Irish Cancer Society. The disease is one that has touched the majority of people in Ireland in one form or another, but Murphy is particularly indebted to the research efforts that come from the ICS.

“I think there are seven different projects the Irish Cancer Society are funding at the minute. They do so much work and it’s always ongoing.

“My mother had breast cancer a couple of years ago, which she survived, and I don’t think she would have survived had it happened 10-15 years ago.”“Once you’ve got a big charity like that, that’s close to home given the support she got, there’s no turning back.”

He adds: ”We’ve no experience, we’re just learning as we go through trial and error – mostly error.”

On of those lessons has been that moving forwards rarely means moving fast. Training for a back-to-back-to-back Marathon hike like this requires a slow and steady pace in comparison to other sports. And the duo have found that out the hard way thanks to “some pretty spectacular blood blisters” on their feet.

“If it’s running you can go out, do a half-hour run, have a shower and get on with the day. With this, I’ve got to walk around for 10 hours.”


“It’s very time-consuming, it’s not something where you can get into the gym and say, ‘right, I’ll do this, I’ll do that’. You can’t just you just have to keep doing it, keep clocking up miles in your legs and get your body used to it.”

An idea born out of idle brain time in the forest has made room for a lot more of the same. When putting in the miles with Flood, neither man shuts themselves off from one another, instead they chat their own particular brand of “nonsense” to pass the time.

Logistically, Murphy and Flood plan to leave home at 3am on Friday June 20 and set off from Rathfarnham with only snappy five-minute breaks to eat, stretch and hydrate before crashing in the back of a van promised to be waiting for them in Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow.

That, they hope, will be 18 hours in and leave them a window of six hours to sleep before setting off to finish off the hike by reaching Clonegal inside 24 hours.

John and Chris are aiming to raise €5000 for the Irish Cancer Society, help them hit that mark by donating here.

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