IN 2016, three Bandon men – James Milner, Donough Lucey and Eoghan O’Donovan – took part in the Skibbereen Charity Adventure Race (SCAR).
James was the driving force behind the trio’s entry into the Expert section and Donough and Eoghan were left cursing him at times as they ran and cycled up the seemingly endless hills on the route.
Sadly, James died on October 4th, 2017 after a short illness. To honour his memory, Donough and Eoghan participated in SCAR on the occasion of his month’s mind, making light of the damage created by Storm Opehlia and posing afterwards for a picture with James’s number – 43 – from the previous year.
Last Saturday, Donough and Eoghan were again in the Expert race, this time joined by James’s brother Richard and James O’Donovan, while the sport and taster events were also heavily populated by a large band of friends.
Resplendent in their white t-shirts – although not so white by the end of the gruelling trails – generously provided by Copper Grove, the James Milner Remembrance Team were noticeable throughout.
James’s wife Sharon, carrying the same race number of 43 after a special request from Donough Lucey to the race organisers, competed in the Taster event, with his brother Michael among those in the Sport category. The strength of the numbers ensured a strong sense of unity and everybody made it back in one piece.
‘There was a huge sense of achievement after SCAR,’ Sharon Milner said.
‘It was so enjoyable and special to be able to share this experience with so many of James’s family and friends.
‘For most of us, it was our first time to compete in an adventure race, having this special team do it together and support each other in training and on the day really helped everyone achieve their goals,’ she added.
‘James relished a challenge and spent all his life competing in team sports so this was a really fitting tribute to him.’
Anthony Nyhan drove the ‘broom wagon’, transporting a number of bikes from Bandon early on the Saturday morning, while Jessica Lynch provided sustenance for the team as they returned to Castlehaven, wrecked but happy.
On Saturday night, the majority of the group reconvened again at Copper Grove to share war stories. The overall feeling was a sense of achievement in having succeeded in something outside of the comfort zone of most taking part, making James proud by displaying a collective attitude which summed him up.
Anybody can do the easy things, but the testing activities require preparation and effort – this was an approach which had guided him in various walks of life, in his involvement with the GAA, cycling and golf clubs in Bandon, and his great love of music.
And, as the rehydration continued on Saturday night, talk turned to 2019 and the possibility of doing it all over again, perhaps with even more people on board to carry on the memory of this most special of people.
James Milner Remembrance Team: Expert – Richard Milner, Donough Lucey, James O’Donovan, Eoghan O’Donovan; Sport – Michael Milner, Cathal Moloney, Danny Corcoran, David Lehane, Donnacha Lehane, Niall O’Rourke, Donncha Burke, Joe Burke, Niall O’Rourke, Kieran Hurley, Denis Hurley; Taster – Sharon Milner, Daniel Kennedy, Ronan Kennedy, Elaine Milner, Dan Hourihane, Tomás Bambury, Catherine Burke, Deirdre Coomey, Nora Lucey, Claire Courtney, Siobhán Duggan, Joan Lehane.
• SCAR, which is on the National Adventure Race series, is organised by a team from Skibeereen Lions Club and 100% of the entry fees go to local good causes. Overall, 425 people attended the event, racing across three different courses. Expert (79.5km), Sport (58.5km) and Taster (26km) and €21,665 was raised for charity. Over 100 people volunteer annually to help organise and marshal the event.