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Kevin faces two of the world’s coldest races

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By Sean Moriarty

A Killarney man who is no stranger to tough challenges is set to take it to the limit in the coming weeks to take on - not one but two - ultimate ice challenges.

Kevin Leahy of the Black Sheep Hostel is currently on his way to the Arctic Circle to contest the first of two 500km ultra runs in the frozen north.

CONDITIONS: These are the conditions that Kevin Leahy will face in Överkalix Sweden in March.

The first ice running event will be done in Canada and then he'll face a similar run in Swedish Lapland – with less than 10 days off in between.

His first race, the Yukon Arctic Ultra – billed as the world’s coldest and toughest race - where temperatures can dip as low as -50°C – gets underway next Thursday.

Kevin reckons it will take him seven days and nights to complete the course.
Throughout the 500km race he will have to be fully self-sufficient and will drag a sled weighing between 25kg and 30kg with all his cooking essentials, tent and spare clothes on board.

The effort required to pull it will depend on the depth of snow. In late 2021 he traversed the entire Kerry Way and contested the Kerry Ultra Marathon as part of his final preparations.

“I have been practicing on the bogs near Kilcummin by pulling old Jeep tyres behind me,” Kevin explained to the Killarney Advertiser this week. “I have to be completely self-sufficient and I will sleep when I am tired, I will eat when I am hungry.”

Kevin is no stranger to such events.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra runs along the Canadian-Alskan border and two years ago he led the shorter 160km race that runs within the main 500km event.

The problem with leading is that he created a path in the snow for his pursuers to follow.

He still won it despite suffering from "sleep deprivation and hallucinations", was hungry, cold and exhausted and with "nothing but the sound of the sled behind me for company" - with no prize money, or fame for his efforts.

Once he completes the Canadian race he will return to Killarney to get ready for a second 500km race in Swedish Lapland but will have less than 10 days at home to prepare.

The Lapland Arctic Ultra, billed as a race “through Europe’s last wilderness”, takes place between March 6-16 in Överkalix, Sweden. The Swedish town is about 160km west of the Finnish town of Rovaniemi, the official home of Santa Claus in Lapland.

DOCUMENTARY

Kevin’s progress on both events will be followed by local digital production company Grandview Media.

The Pawn Office Lane-based company is run by director and producer Adrian McCarthy who is well known for his video promotional work in the district.

Adrian’s documentary entitled ‘1000km of Chaos' will chart Kevin’s early preparations in Kerry, the disappointments of cancelled events due to COVID-19 restrictions and finally getting to compete in two of the toughest races in the world.

The finished production will be shown at the Kerry International Film Festival next October.

Kevin’s bid is being supported by All Real Nutrition, the Farranfore-based protein bar manufacturer, and Montane, an international extreme weather clothing brand.

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Minister passes the buck on major road upgrade

By Sean Moriarty Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Eamon Ryan has passed the buck after being challenged on why the Killarney to Farranfore road has been further delayed. Transport […]

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By Sean Moriarty

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Eamon Ryan has passed the buck after being challenged on why the Killarney to Farranfore road has been further delayed.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) have been putting off the revelation of the preferred route corridor for the badly needed road for months.

Elected councillors at the January meeting of the Killarney Municipal District expressed their anger after TII failed to honour a pre-Christmas promise.

In November last year the roads authority said it would put the preferred corridor on public display by the start of December.

So far, nothing has been published.

This prompted local TD Michael Healy-Rae to bring the issue to the Dáil where he asked Minister Ryan to make a statement on the delay.

However, the Minister passed the buck, saying the matter was for the TII, the very agency that has not honoured its late 2022 promise.

“As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and exchequer funding in relation to the National Roads Programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 and in line with the National Development Plan (NDP), the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned,” said Ryan.

“This is also subject to the Public Spending Code and the necessary statutory approvals. In this context, TII is best placed to advise you on the status of this project. Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.”

Next Friday (February 10), will mark 10 working days from the date of the statement was made.

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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Contraceptive Services in Ireland

Birth control or contraception is the use of medicines, devices, or surgery to prevent pregnancy. You can get contraception from most pharmacies in Ireland. Most contraception will need a prescription […]

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Birth control or contraception is the use of medicines, devices, or surgery to prevent pregnancy.

You can get contraception from most pharmacies in Ireland. Most contraception will need a prescription from a GP but you do not need a prescription for emergency contraception or condoms.

You can get prescriptions for contraceptive drugs and devices, as well as advice about contraception from GPs, voluntary organisations and private family planning clinics. Voluntary and private family planning clinics usually have charges but may waive them or have lower fees in certain cases.

In Budget 2023 it was announced that the age range for free contraception will be extended to include women aged 16 and aged 26 to 30, from 1 September 2023. This change requires legislation.

Is contraception free in Ireland?

You can get free contraception if you are:

A woman or person with a uterus
Aged 17 to 26
Living in Ireland

What contraception costs are free for people aged 17 to 26?

Any GP appointments about your contraception options
Contraception prescriptions from your doctor (at participating pharmacies)
Emergency contraception (the morning-after-pill)
Fitting, removal and check-ups of long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs)
Other types of contraception such as contraceptive injections, implants, IUS and IUDs (coils), the contraceptive patch and contraceptive ring
Prescriptions for combined oral contraception (the daily pill)

How do I get free contraception if I am aged 17 to 26?

You do not need a medical card.
You need to book an appointment with a GP or doctor to discuss your contraception. This appointment will be free. The GP and pharmacy will ask for your:

PPS number
Name
Date of birth
Address

Your GP will use this information to let the pharmacy know not to charge you for your free contraception prescription. You can also collect your free contraception from some family planning clinics.

Is contraception covered by my medical card?

If you have a medical card, you get free contraceptive drugs, devices and free GP services including contraceptive advice. This also includes emergency contraception. You will have to pay a prescription charge for items you get from pharmacies under the medical card scheme.

What is the situation, if I do not have a medical card?

If you do not have a medical card, and you are not eligible for the free contraception scheme (above), you will have to pay for contraception and contraceptive services. You may be able to reduce the cost of your contraception through the Drug Payment Scheme. For example, the cost of long-acting reversible contraceptives such as the IUS (hormonal coil) or IUD (copper coil). You may also be able to claim tax relief on medical expenses.

Can I get free condoms in Ireland?

Condoms are not free under the medical card or free contraception scheme.

You can get free condoms from:
Sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics
Some sexual health NGOs
Many third level colleges

Where can I get emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is a back-up contraception. You can use emergency contraception up to five days after having unprotected sex, but it is more effective the sooner you take it after unprotected sex.
You can get emergency contraception tablets (sometimes called the morning-after pill) over the counter in most pharmacies without having to go to a doctor for a prescription.

You can get free emergency contraception if:

You have a medical card, or
You are a woman or person with a uterus, aged 17 to 26 and living in Ireland

You can read more about contraception services on the HSE website: www.sexualwellbeing.ie.

For anyone needing information, advice or have an advocacy issue, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information team in Kerry on 0818 07 7860, they will be happy to assist and make an appointment if necessary. The offices are staffed from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Alternatively you can email on tralee@citinfo.ie or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie for further information.

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