Celebrities do battle in Sport Relief challenge

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th March 2012'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com '' Craig Doyle(centre), Captain of the Ireland Team with some of his team on their way from Dublin to Larne for the next stage of the First Nation Home Challenge,the P&O Ferries sailing leg from Larne to Cairnryan.'Pictured are L-R Shane Byrne, Diarmuid Gavin, Paddy Johns, Craig Doyle, Amanda Byram and Niall Woods
�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 10th March 2012'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com '' Craig Doyle(centre), Captain of the Ireland Team with some of his team on their way from Dublin to Larne for the next stage of the First Nation Home Challenge,the P&O Ferries sailing leg from Larne to Cairnryan.'Pictured are L-R Shane Byrne, Diarmuid Gavin, Paddy Johns, Craig Doyle, Amanda Byram and Niall Woods

FAMOUS sporting stars and celebrities from across Britain and Ireland are passing through Northern Ireland this week as part of an endurance race.

Sporting heroes like Joe Calzaghe and Kenny Logan and television personalities Katy Hill and Diarmuid Gavin have been travelling through Larne and other Ulster towns during the Home Nations charity challenge.

As part of the challenge, which is the largest-ever event in aid of Sports Relief, teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are sailing, running, rowing and cycling against each other more than 1,000 miles round the UK and Ireland.

The Home Nations challenge began on Saturday and is expected to finish this weekend. The teams follow the same route but began in different locations across the British Isles.

On Saturday, the Irish team — who began in Dublin — received a rapturous reception in Larne as they completed the first leg of their seven-day trek after travelling up from the capital of the Republic.

Yesterday evening, hundreds of spectators lined the promenade in Larne to cheer on the English team, which included former rugby greats Josh Lewsey and Phil Vickery as well as cyclist Chris Boardman.

They had begun in London and crossed over to Ireland, heading north on foot and bicycle from Dublin.

The English team also included the yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur and television presenters Phil Spencer and Rob Edmond.

Team Ireland includes celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin, TV presenter Craig Doyle, long-distance runner Sonia O’Sullivan and rugby legends Paddy Johns and Shane Byrne.

England skipper Lewsey said: “It’s been very competitive between the teams and we’re confident we can bring the trophy back to London. Most importantly, it’s a great way for the public to get involved and help us raise money for a fantastic cause.”

While running and cycling will be the main parts of the challenge, the teams will also have to sail 50 miles from Larne to Stranraer in Scotland. In a cruel twist, as the teams travel across the Irish Sea from the UK to Dublin on a ferry they will have to complete 136 miles on a rowing machine while on board the ferry.

The Scottish and Welsh teams, who are beginning in their own countries, arrive in Larne later this week.

Visit www.firstnationhome.com for more information.