Six months on from the Fermanagh floods local lass ‘Shooter’ aims to raise funds for flood stricken SHARE by paddling around Ulster and Ireland.
Ulster Woman – Elaine Alexander (aka Shooter) starts training to tackle her toughest challenge to date. Her long term goal for 2011 is a 1000 mile clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland by Sea Kayak to raise funds for SHARE whose leisure suite was flood stricken last year. However the first step in her long term training programme is to circumnavigate Ulster. Departing on June 26th, Shooter aims to paddle from SHARE via the Erne/Shannon link to Ballyshannon where she leaves the shelter of the inland waterways to brave the rolling seas. Paddling around the West, North and East Coast, Shooter will finally come back to the sheltered inland waters via the Fane River below Dundalk bay before starting the homeward leg through Monaghan (where she grew up) and back to SHARE.
The Monaghan born lass has worked in the Outdoor Industry (at SHARE) for 15 years and has previously represented Ireland in surf kayaking in Mundaka and Costa Rica and regularly features on the podium in the CANI league. This experience should help her as she suggests
“Paddling in big seas is very different to the sheltered waters of Lough Erne that I train on, but hopefully the experience of paddling in the sea and surf will help me on the trip. There will more than likely be days where the weather is too bad to go out, which I can use as rest days, but hopefully not too many to halt my progress altogether.”
Shooter’s training involves paddling 4 evenings per week on Upper Lough Erne along a ten mile stretch from SHARE to Crom. The picturesque paddle is full of wildlife and forms part of the Lough Erne Canoe Trail which Shooter believes to be one of the best paddling destinations in the world.
“The training is quite easy to get hooked on when you see the scenic beauty of the area. There are lots of islands, one of which plays host to the headquarters of Hare Krishna Community who come out and wave as you pass! There are swans, pine martin and deer as well as Ireland’s oldest Yew Trees, Crom Castle and Gad Island Tower along the route so the scenic beauty is unrivalled. This forms the first section of the route. The Coastline of Ireland is also beautiful, so the element of exploration will keep me motivated!”
Although the initial paddle forms part of her training, Shooter’s goal is to complete the 1000 mile clockwise circumnavigation of Ireland in 2011 as a fundraiser for SHARE. The Charity, set up to promote the inclusion of disabled and non-disabled persons, which has already faced a difficult financial year in the current economic climate will have to overcome the financial burden of the flood damage and lost revenue due to the closure of their gym and leisure suite as Oliver Wilkinson - Share Chief Executive suggests;
“The leisure suite which has been open for around 14 years was the only fully accessible gym facility in the local area which welcomed many people with disabilities and held a lot of specialist equipment. It is estimated that the damage will total in the region of £700,000. We are hopeful that a newly refurbished state of the art leisure suite and gym will be open for our peak season and work is already well underway. Shooter’s fundraiser is the first of many challenges that staff and friends of SHARE have decided to undertake over the coming year and we wish her the best of luck on her challenge”
It is estimated that the paddle will take three weeks to complete. If you are interested in following Shooter’s Challenge you can join her facebook group: Canoe Around Ireland which will have regular updates on her progress as well as blogs for each day and photos and video footage en route.