I was six months pregnant with my first child, and feeling tired and fat. I was so depressed that I couldn’t race in my current condition that I started to flick through my phone to see what my mountain running friends were up to.
I saw them racing up and down mountains, and traversing entire ranges. I was so jealous that I decided right away that, once I’d given birth, I’d get fit and compete again.
I then saw a few of my friends had just come back from a weekend in Killarney. They had competed in the Killarney Adventure Race, which Channel 4 was televising. I clicked on the video link and watched the race unfurl from the comfort of my sofa. They were biking through the Gap of Dunloe, kayaking around Muckross Lake, running up and down Mangerton Mountain. Straight away I thought to myself, that’s what I want to do.
Coming from a mountain running background, I guessed I could slot in to this new race format. But I was also excited about learning something new, namely how to road bike. I hired a coach who taught me how to train for this discipline. He also helped improve my overall fitness by targeting those parts of me that suffered during pregnancy.
My first Quest event was Killarney, the same one as I saw on the telly. I loved running up and down Strikeen Mountain for starters, and Mangerton Mountain for dessert. In between, I got to try out my latest road biking skills in the Black Valley and to dip my toes in Muckross Lake. I was amazed by the amount of people who were there that day, everyone from top-level athletes and weekend warriors to absolute newbies.
What I didn’t know about adventure racing before I began was its amazing social side. The finish line is full of goodies around which friends congregate and post-race stories are swapped. There are also the evening parties where prizes are given and the occasional drink is shared. It makes adventure racing a great weekend away, in beautiful parts of the country.