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Posts Tagged ‘Kayaking’

“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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“We have to go out fast”, our team leader said. We all agreed. Looking around the room, there was some serious competition. Not only had Irish team “Get No Sleep” turned up, but there was a group of foreigners in our midst. They had to be good if they were sponsored by Salomon and had travelled all the way from Denmark just to race.

Night biking during CCAR’s Raid in the Sperrin Mountains.

We were in Northern Ireland’s Sperrin Mountains for CCAR’s Raid, a 24 hour adventure race on the cusp of winter time. We were prepared for 13 hours of darkness and wet, boggy mountains. We were even ready for the clocks going back by an hour in the middle of the night to mark the official beginning of winter.

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“My son’s friends got attacked by a hippo when they were once out kayaking”, Nathalie says between paddle strokes. She has invited me to join her on a morning’s kayaking trip on Lake Victoria whilst I’m visiting her in her Kenyan home. “The hippo came out of nowhere and overturned the boat”, Nathalie continues. Images of screaming kids and Jaws’ like scenes come squealing to my mind. Fortunately all of the kids escaped unharmed, she tells me, shaken but not devoured.

Fishermen on Lake Victoria, heading out with their nets.

Lake Victoria looks luckily devoid of hippos this morning. The colours of the lake blend with the early morning African cloudless sky, leaving a seamless blue void for us to paddle into. Local fishermen are already out, sailing or rowing out into deeper waters to search for their daily catch.

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I’m always desperately trying to find mountains to run up and down here in Cambodia. So, after asking a few regular runners in Phnom Penh (albeit it road runners), I discovered that Bokor Mountain was a potential option.

Bokor Mountain from Kampot River.

Bokor Mountain, at 1079 metres, is around 3 hours’ drive south of Phnom Penh. The Ultimate Cambodia Travel Guide describes the mountain as “a national park that has much to offer the visitor, with magnificent coastline views, clear streams, waterfalls, thick forests, and a former casino resort ghost town topping the line up”. It sounded ideal.

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