In Conversation With… BoxyMo Giro D’Jigsaw Tour Manager Joanne Murphy

September 27th 2018

In Conversation With… BoxyMo Giro D’Jigsaw Tour Manager Joanne Murphy

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m a former full-time fundraiser turned MC and Presenter with a huge passion for all things sport, event management and marketing.  When not talking and working the microphone I love nothing more than cycling my bike. I’m a keen cyclist and part time triathlete, co-founder of the all-female endurance cycling team the Galway Baybes who set two Irish cycling records in the last 12 months in the 2,250Km Race Around Ireland and The 555k Donegal Ultra.   Based in Galway I work with a variety of events and organisations across Ireland and the UK to deliver an excellent event experience for everyone involved.

What inspired you to get involved with Jigsaw?

Justin McDermott approached me back in 2013 and said I have a bit of a mammoth event idea, to bring cyclists on a 380k tour of Galway where all types of cyclists experience life on the road as part of a team like professional riders for 2 days, I said, that sounds like a great challenge, lets go! And so we did, this is our 5th year of the Giro which has expanded to now travel across the country to include pit-stops at a variety of Jigsaw hubs between Galway and Dublin.  We have a fantastic team who help us to deliver the event every year without whom it wouldn’t be possible.

 As the Tour Manager, what makes the Giro D’Jigsaw special?

My job is to co-ordinate all aspects of the event over the weekend, making sure that everyone is where they need to be when they need to be there, liaising with the crew, team leaders, medical teams, moto marshals, Jigsaw Hub volunteers and our catering team to ensure the cyclists have a fantastic experience and in so far as possible that every cyclist crosses the finish line completing their own personal challenge of cycling 470km. My priority is the welfare of the cyclists and crew ensuring that they are safe on the road and enjoy their time on the bike and feel part of a team who together are making a huge difference to young people’s lives across the country.

The camaraderie shown by the cyclists across the weekend is fantastic, for the most part we all start as strangers and we finish as a team, bonded by a common achievement.  Cycling 470k over 3 days is a massive challenge for many of our cyclists. I don’t ever get to cycle the event unfortunately but I do enjoy seeing the cyclists develop across the event from strangers to friends and see the improvement in their cycling confidence which is a testament to the cyclists themselves and the team leaders who support them on the road, guiding them, encouraging them and placing a helping hand on their back when the going gets tough. This is a huge part of what differentiates the Giro from other charity cycling events and makes it so special.

What have been the highlights of your time on the Giro?

Meeting so many amazing people from the cyclists themselves to the crew and volunteers we meet along the way, they are the backbone of the success of the event.   Hearing stories of why they take part in the event, many of whom have a personal and close connection with Jigsaw. Hearing how Jigsaw has supported them and their families is fantastic and very motivating. Unfortunately not all of the stories are so positive and to hear those stories of mental illness and sometimes loss are heartbreaking but also very humbling. To be able to support an event like this that makes such a huge positive impact to people, especially young people who have mental health issues is very motivating. The fact that we can do this through a sport and activity I am passionate about is even more inspiring.

What change would you like to see to youth mental health in Ireland?

Although mental health has received much exposure and coverage in the media and in general in the past few years, I think there is a lot more that we can do to support young people and their mental health.

In my opinion sport and physical activity provides the platform for young people to have an outlet for making friends, staying fit and healthy, having a sense of purpose and achievement creating an environment for people to develop their own skill set and set of interests that can motivate them to succeed in life and provide positive outcomes.  

The more we can encourage young people to follow their particular activity of interest or sport would go a long way towards supporting young people’s physical and mental health.