After 6 months of map studying and countless hours and kilometres of recce’s, I finally made it to the white arch of Donard car park with 20 minutes to go before I was to set off. I’d chosen this date a couple of months ago based on moonlight and personal commitments, and fortunately for me the weather was due to stay clear and mild for most of the next 24 hours. I was running solo and unsupported, meaning that whatever was in my backpack at the start was all I had for the entire challenge. So before leaving Dublin I had checked and rechecked my kit and supplies, and had the pack ready to go on my shoulders before getting into the car. On arriving in Newcastle I got changed and ready, and took a short walk with my brother Gerard. During the walk I realised how mild it actually was, so after a bit of second guessing, and with 2 minutes to go I stuffed my long sleeve into my backpack and put on a short sleeve cycling tee and ran to the arch. After a quick photo and countdown I headed off, and as soon as I entered Donard Forest I was glad I’d swapped top, as it was really warm.