Due to COVID-19, the annual fencing intervarsities were cancelled – this didn’t stop DU Fencing though. Despite the less than fortunate circumstances, the club rose to the occasion and decided to make the most of the situation and raise €3,500 for Jigsaw Youth Mental Health through its virtual intervarsity relay.
As they were supposed to host the intervarsities this year, the club notes that it “wanted to come up with an event that was still capable of bringing all university clubs together. Although we couldn’t compete with each other, we could still come together for a good cause.” Noting that there has been a “plethora of virtual running events,” the club decided to put together “something different and more interactive” – the result was an ambitious, albeit perfectly executed virtual relay. Many members participated in the event and made it one to remember and look back on fondly, with all the effort going towards a great cause.
“The event certainly managed to unite all those who were taking part, with a clear emphasis on community and interaction.”
“The main goal of the event was to record the longest continuous relay through any distance covering sport. Fencers from participating Universities joined in with running, cycling, swimming, and even horse riding and canoeing!” This bonkers event had an incredibly strong social media presence, and attracted attention from around the country. “We set up the hashtag #FencingVarsityRelay2021, through which everyone could share photos and records of their activity, as we were keen to maximise interaction while also adhering to social distancing protocols and with virtual handoffs between relay legs.” If any of you avid Facebook users decided to have a scroll through your feed, you probably saw a post or two come up relating to it if you keep up with Trinity sport clubs! The photos were funny and entertaining to say the least, and also motivating to get up off the couch and get moving yourself. Although it may not have had the usual in person contact of a fencing intervarsity, the event certainly managed to unite all those who were taking part, with a clear emphasis on community and interaction.
However, there is more to an intervarsity than community – competition is important too! DU Fencing managed to replicate this effectively. “There was a fun competitive edge to the event. We started with a 36 hour relay, and NUIG responded with a 72 hour one. We then aimed for 86 hours, and UCD’s 60 hours then kept going to match ours! In the end, what was originally meant to be an 86 hour relay turned into a 215 hour one. From 8am on Friday 2nd of April until 7am Sunday 11th of April, at all times, day or night, rain or shine, there was a Trinity fencer out running, cycling, or walking.” Undoubtedly this is an impressive feat of dedication and commitment. Not many people would be able for exercise in the dead of night!
If this didn’t make you feel bad enough about opting for a spice bag instead of a lockdown jog, in total, participants covered “1712.79 kilometres, the equivalent of travelling from Malin Head to Mizen Head, the length of Ireland, over three and a half times!” That is one way to at least psychologically circumvent the five kilometre limit that currently has us all constrained.
“‘…for DUFC, it brought us closer together, motivated us to stay active, and brought back the community spirit we miss from cheering on our team mates at competitions.'”
Most importantly, this colossal event managed to raise €3,500 for Jigsaw Youth Mental Health. This charity was chosen as a means of “promoting mental health and well being of students and young people through sport.” Now more than ever really, there is a widespread need for mental health services in order to combat these isolating and scary times. What this virtual fencing intervarsities relay did was bring attention to an issue that truly does affect so many youth out there, and shows that with the right effort and intention, great things can come out of dark times. There were also notable mental health benefits for those taking part, as it is noted that “it was a wonderful experience to connect with our Alumni, as they joined the teams and helped out relay efforts. Certainly, for DUFC, it brought us closer together, motivated us to stay active, and brought back the community spirit we miss from cheering on our team mates at competitions.”
This event is just one of the many amazing innovations Trinity’s sports clubs have made this year, with its impact for both its members and beneficiaries of its philanthropic aspect obvious. It just goes to show that despite Leo Varadkar’s annoying use of the phrase, you really can stick together while staying apart.