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Great little video of Achill Roar Adventure Race from this year. Brilliant event, definitely recommended for anyone thinking of adventure racing in 2015!

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“Oh shit”, I thought. The grating noise just didn’t sound good. I looked down. My back wheel was making a really unhealthy sound each time I turned the pedal. This was not what I planned as I left my bike at Kate Kearney’s Cottage the night before the 70km Killarney Adventure Race. I poked and prodded at different metal bits for several minutes before concluding there was nothing I could do. “It could be just a bit of mud stuck from the day’s ceaseless rain”, I thought. “Or something much more serious”. I would just have to wait until the race to see.

Setting off on the 35km bike from Kate Kearney's Cottage to Muckross Lake. Photo courtesy of Marek Hajdasz.

Setting off on the 35km bike from Kate Kearney’s Cottage to Muckross Lake. Photo courtesy of Marek Hajdasz.

My rear wheel dilemma was made all the more stressful knowing who I was up against. Fiona Meade had entered the race, the 2014 National Road Racing Champion who had beaten me by over 20 minutes in last year’s Sea to Summit Adventure Race. Though Killarney’s course is well known to favour mountain runners, I couldn’t lose too much time on the second stage, a 35km cycle from Kate Kearney’s to Muckross Lake. A banjaxed wheel would be enough to hand Fiona the race.

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I was on the hunt for points last weekend at Outfront’s Achill Roar Adventure Race. It was race number five out of the nine race National Adventure Race Series, with four races in total to count. I already had two wins and a second place in the bag from three races this year, so I needed just one more race to complete my tally.

The descent off 15k Mweelin mountain run on Achill Roar adventure race. Photo courtesy of Juju Jay.

The descent off 15k Mweelin mountain run on Achill Roar adventure race. Photo courtesy of Juju Jay.

It was a simple race format compared to the others I had done. There was a 2.5km kayak (or 1.5km swim if you preferred), followed by a 15km mountain run, with a 45km bike to finish. Nothing as complicated as the run – kayak – run – bike – run – bike – run format of Gaelforce West just three weeks ago. Also Achill Roar’s kayak section was substantially longer than other adventure races, which suited me down to the ground. I even hired a single sea kayak off Total Experience to make sure I went extra fast.

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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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I’ve always wanted to run the Glacial Lakes race since its inception in 2012. This year, I was finally in the right place at the right time, and was able to put in an entry.

Leaving Glendalough at 9am for the start of the 43km Glacial Lakes Race. Photo courtesy of Juju Jay.

Leaving Glendalough at 9am for the start of the 43km Glacial Lakes Race. Photo courtesy of Juju Jay.

IMRA’s Glacial Lake event is a 43km race with 1,783 metres of ups and downs. It is primarily designed for relay teams of four people, racing between lakes in four stages within the Wicklow Mountains. To add a bit more spice, individuals are given time bonuses if they are female or old. Elderly females are therefore graciously given the biggest and best bonuses.

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“Ah sure, it’ll be a bit of fun”. Fun? I never would have attached the word ‘fun’ to the term ‘duathlon’. But apparently that’s what my coach thought the duathlon would be. A bit of fun.

On the first 2 mile run leg of the Buncrana Duathlon. Photo courtesy of NWTC.

On the first 2 mile run leg of the Buncrana Duathlon. Photo courtesy of NWTC.

At his behest, I had entered the duathlon up north in Donegal’s Buncrana. It was a sprint event with a 2 mile run, then a 10 mile bike followed by a 2 mile run to finish off. It was seemed so short, so fast, and so painful. “Good training”, he said.

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It had been nearly 18 months since my last IMRA race. In the interim time, a baby and a move to Northern Ireland had put pay to my mountain racing days.

How to hurdle, mountain running style. Winner of Annacurra race showing it how it's done. Photo courtesy of Mick Hanney.

How to hurdle, mountain running style. Winner of Annacurra race showing it how it’s done. Photo courtesy of Mick Hanney.

But then Mick Hanney started posting pictures on Facebook. They were of rocks and mountains and muck and puddles. There were views from descents and trees to hurdle. It was too much to resist. I had to attend his mountain race.


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