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Posts Tagged ‘Multisport’

“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’m going to do an adventure race before my maternity leave is up.” It was a promise I made to myself before my baby was even born. It was a goal I needed to mentally make, something to get me back on my bike and back wearing my running shoes within a few weeks of the birth.

Heading up Croagh Patrick on the Sea to Summit Race. Photo courtesy of Damian Faulkner.

Heading up Croagh Patrick on the Sea to Summit Adventure Race. Photo courtesy of Damian Faulkner.

I initially signed up for the Rugged Peaks race in October, close to home up here in Donegal. But when it was cancelled at the last minute due to low entry numbers, I had to find another race to aim for. The only one left on the calendar was the Sea to Summit race. It was scheduled for the start of November in Westport, County Mayo. I had seen the photos from last year’s event, lads in skimpy triathlon suits running up the snow covered peak of Croagh Patrick. It looked cold and painful, but it would have to do.

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Since moving back home, I’ve had a chance to explore the corner of Ireland where I grew up. I now live on the Inishowen Peninsula, which is lodged on the north-west tip of Ireland. It houses the island’s most northerly point, Malin Head, as well as harbouring some of Ireland’s most rugged, wild countryside.

Peter Crommie, race winner, running down towards Carndonagh on the first leg of the Shore-to-Summit race.

Peter Crommie, race winner, running down towards Carndonagh on the first leg of the Shore-to-Summit race.

So when there was a chance to race across the Peninsula last weekend with Extreme North Events, I couldn’t help but sign up. Starting on the east coast’s Redcastle, the plan was to spend the next 62 kilometres biking, running, and kayaking across to Buncrana on the western side.

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I grew up in the north of Ireland and was born in the remote region of County Donegal. So when I saw a 65km adventure race advertised 30 minutes from my birthplace, I couldn’t help but register.

Me in my blue North Face jacket running down the trail from Urris lakes.

The race was run by Extreme North, a new adventure racing company based on Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula. They have seen the potential of this remote part of Ireland, with its rolling hills, rugged coastline, and stunning, un-spoilt scenery. They have also seen the country’s rise in interest in long distances multi-sport races, with the likes of Gaelforce, Causeway Adventure Racing Series, and the WAR races becoming more and more popular.

It was wet, windy, cold, and generally miserable when I arrived at the race start. The weather only added to my apprehension. I’d never done an individual multi-sport race before. And to make matters worse, I’d never raced on a road bike before. In fact, I had just borrowed my bike from Peter Crommie, my Beast of Ballyhoura team-mate and owner of Roe Valley Cycles in local Limavady.

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