Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Castlebar 4 days Walking Festival 2018

Steve EI5DD and Tom EI2GP assisted with the communications for the 30 Km rambles from the 28th June to the 1st of July. The marshals of the ramble were supplied with PMR radios and they communicate amongst themselves and with those at ground level providing support. Tom, EI2GP,  assisted with the marshalling of the ramble whilst Steve EI5DD was in a support vehicle at ground level.

For the last 25 years members of the Galway VHF Group have assisted with this event. The Marshals on the ramble have operated PMR systems over this period of time and have become seasoned radio users. The amateur radio presence is to provide a back up should an emergency arise. The logistics of support to bring any casualty down from the hill are dealt with via the amateur radio links thus leaving the marshals to continue with the walk.

There were a number of crossings on a busy road in the Mulranny area and co-ordinating with the marshals, it was possible to advise when the road was going to be clear for a crossing to be made. It is impressive to see how well the radios are operated under the circumstances.

The map above shows the areas covered according to APRS.FI  over 5 days including the transit from Galway. The cell signal was good most of the time so the TM-7 was able to resister the points along the distance of travel. There were two trips out along the Newport road, with one close to Crossmolina, and on the last day there was a loop around the immediate Castlebar area.

Rambles were located close to Newport, in Mulranney, on Achill Island and the last day in Castlebar. The scenery on these walks is only magnificent and of course always looks a hundred percent better in excellent weather conditions.

Twenty five Taiwanese walkers participated in the 4 Days walks. They were always in great humour. They never complained about the heat. Their hats were just the job to keep the sun of the back of the neck.

There were participants from 28 different countries with many returning on an annual basis. Four busses were required to ferry the walkers to their rambles. One thing that is very noticeable is the camaraderie between the participants from all nations. New walkers are very quickly given plenty of encouragement and many new friendships are made on the hillsides. 

Both DMR and Yaesu fusion were tested on the amateur radio side of the operation. Naturally these worked well between the operator on the hill and ground level. The support team were never too far away. It is possible that we may acquire DMR licence free sets for operation on the walks by the marshals in future events.

John Cresham - one of the support team at ground level taking a well earned tea break

The weather was extremely hot, with the tar melting off the road surface. On the first day of walking there was only one walker experiencing dehydration as a result of the hot weather. It was essential that adequate water was carried into the hills. The following 3 days experienced no major problems apart from one who slipped and suffered a few minor scratches.

Pictured above is a good friend Bert Oderkerken ex Dutch Army who turns up every year and has become an honorary marshal - he operates a Radio as a sweeper. A really good radio operator. Bert is dedicated walker who has walked at almost all of the International walks.

 Some excellent scenery experienced during the 4 days walks

At the end of the fourth day, medals were presented to those qualifying for International Marching League Awards and those qualifying for Castlebar Awards.  Following the presentations, a dinner was held followed by a "blisters ball". This is well attended and a group "Brown Sugar", consisting of two walkers, play some excellent music for the evening to conclude the Four Day walks. A great night for the fair wells and plans for next year.

Special thanks to the Castlebar International Four Days walks for the pictures used in this article.