FOUR local men are ready to take a step into the unknown next month when they join over 100 teams from across the country as part of the Oxfam Trailtrekker challenge 2010. The local men' Mark Doak, Cohn and Jeff Smith and Chris Hill, will trek 100km, including walking throughout the night on September 4 and 5, beginning in Donard Park and finishing within 36 hours in Carlingford.
Mark and the team have raised close to the minimum of £2,000 for the charity through several fundraising initiatives and are hoping to go beyond that target ahead of the event. Lisburn man Mark said there is "nervous excitement" amongst himself and his teammates, named From Dusk Til Dawn for the challenge.
Mark said: "This was my idea back in January or February and I pleaded for volunteers. I saw the trek advertised about this time last year but it was too late to get involved so I thought I'd keep an eye on it for when registration opened again.
"Chris, Colin, Jeff and I have been friends for years and they agreed to take part. This has brought us closer together, although we've always enjoyed walking and hiking, and Colin and I raised money for Age Concern during a hike to Nepal in 2001.
"We are big time champing at the bit to get started now, we're really looking forward to it'" Mark added.
The team held a series of raffles and a concert in Belfast at which friends performed for free to help them meet their target. They are now concentrating on their fitness ahead of the big event, ignoring their cars and bikes in favour of walking anywhere they need to go.
"When we can we all try and get out at weekends," said Mark. "We are all trying to walk as much as possible.
"We will leave between 7am and 8am on the Saturday morning, starting in Donard, through the Mournes to Warrenpoint' across Carlingford to Omeath, round the Cooley Peninsula, finishing in Carlingford. It is pretty much non-stop but we are looking forward to the whole atmosphere."
Mark admits that the difficulty will come for the team when the night walk begins.
"That's when it's going to get very tough'" he said. "We have tried one night walk in Carlingford to train. I think we'll all hit the wall during the event but we've all been friends for years and we have a very good bond as a team, there is a lot of nervous excitement now."
Mark continued: "We will have a support team with us, with two friends, my brother Andrew and Alan Russell, who will drive a van supplied by a local business Four Corners Design, Lisburn, and they will cook for us and carry spare clothes etc. Another friend of ours Michelle Cosgrove, a graphic designer' has designed a logo for the van and our t-shirts. Any business who would like to support us can have their logo used on our van and t-shirts.
"We have a lot of people supporting us and we don't want to let them down'" Mark concluded.
Mark and the team are hoping to surpass their £2,000 target and anyone who would like to sponsor them can do so online at www.oxfamireland.org/trailtrekker. Entering their team name, From Dusk Til Dawn, will take you to their page where you can donate. For further information you can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07724811664.