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Saturday’s Dingle Adventure Race was the first test of my winter training regime. Last year, I decided I’d give the National Adventure Series a go this season. Four races need to be completed out of nine. Waterford Adventure Race in May was my original season opener. But a bad cough prevented me from reaching the starting line. Dingle, the second race in the series, was therefore where I’d find out if my training had really worked.

Testing out my biking skills on Dingle Adventure Race. Courtesy of Action Photography.

Testing out my biking skills on Dingle Adventure Race. Courtesy of Action Photography.

The Dingle Adventure Race is a 48km course around Kerry’s Dingle Peninsula. Starting on road bikes, the race route takes you up and over Conor Pass, ascending and descending 480 metres on narrow, windy roads until you reach Cloghane village after 25km of cycling. There the bikes are dumped and you set off for a 10km hike of Brandon Mountain. From sea level, you climb a steep rocky 950 metres to the top, descending via a gentle grass slope to Bally Braic. Then it’s a 10.5km road run back to Dingle, where boats await for a 2km kayak near the marina. And if you’ve not cramped or sunk by then, the race ends with a 1km road run back into Dingle village and the ultimate finish line.

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“You can’t go up there. People have gotten lost up there”. The owner of the Bed and Breakfast where I was staying was adamant. Going up and over Brandon Mountain via the walker’s Dingle Way was not a wise thing to do. I was 19 years old. I didn’t know about mountains or map reading or hiking in misty conditions. I took the B&B owner’s advice and took the next available bus home.

Brandon Mountain on Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Nearly two decades have passed since that failed Dingle walking trip during my university years. So when I got a chance this summer to head back to that south western corner of Ireland, the first thing I wanted to do was to head up and over Brandon Mountain.

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