RACE REPORT, Dingle Adventure Race 2014
I made my way to Dingle, Co. Kerry on Friday evening, registered for the race and got an early night. I had never taken part in this race before so I was looking forward to the test. At 8.20am I made my way to the start line. This race started on the bike for 25km, then a 10km hike/run of Mt Brandon, then a 10km road run, followed by a 2km Kayak and finally a 1km run to the line.
On arrival I noticed that the field was going to be incredibly strong with Adventure race winners on all sides of me at the starting line. A great atmosphere, yet I knew this was going to be one of my hardest races ever. Little did I know what lay ahead in the next 3 hours!
At 9am off we went, following the race car to the foot of the Connor Pass climb where the fog horn sounded and we were off. Withing minutes the race was split into a few groups. I stayed in the second group chasing the lead pack of 5 or 6 riders. The legs were feeling good all the way up the climb and I knew if I held this position I would be within touching distance of the lads ahead. The descent wasn’t quite as much fun! A very steep fast descent with slippy roads which I have to say I’m still not that good at and definately need practice. In saying that I managed to keep within the top 15 when we reached the first dib and bike drop off.
So now the fun began, Mount Brandon loomed in the distance and I could see the orange marker flags heading off in the distance as I made my way up the muddy tracks. I passed 5 guys in the first 2km and then 1 guy passed me so I knew I was doing ok and if I could hold my own I would be fast on the mountain descent.The views must of been spectacular but to be honest I only looked around for about 10 seconds as it was a very technical course with lots of trip hazards. At one stage 2 sheep bounded out right on top of me and tore off down the mountain. I just thought how I wished I was going down just like them. In total it is a 950 metre ascent and towards the end there is a really steep stretch just to finish you off.
I completed the climb in around the hour and was ready for a long descent before the 10km road run ahead. Within 5 minutes of heading down my race changed dramatically. I tripped and landed front first on a pile of rocks. In saying it was a disaster would be a overstatement as I wasn’t badly injured. I was cut on my hands and face, bruised on my left thigh and very sore on both knees. I remember thinking and saying outloud ” no way am I stopping now after travelling all the way to Kerry, I will finish in the top 10″. Of course I shouted this with quite a few explitives thrown in and some funny looks from a marshal just up the mountain!
I dusted myself down and began to descend once more. I hadn’t lost any race places but man was I sore. All I could think of was Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run” and how he had fought through the pain of torn ligaments to win an ultramarathon. All I had to do was run 15km more with a few bruises and scraps. My mountain descent turned out to be ok but my 10km road run was slow. Along with the pain I was beginning to burn as well. I kept going and until 8km was completely on my own. At this point 2 athletes past me. The bells rang out in my head that I was now in 9th place. At the foot of the mountain I had been informed I was in 7th. I arrived at the kayaks about a minute behind the 2 that had just passed me. I hopped on board, in pain, and really not expecting I would be able to get out of this boat ever again ! Within 5 minutes I had passed one of the two guys ahead of me and was up to 8th. I completed the 2km in under 10 minutes and finished the last 1km of race strongly enough to cross the line with 7th place in sight. A total of 3hours and 12 minutes.
All in all this race was more great experience for me. It also thought me that I have the will power to keep going when it gets really tough. In adventure racing your finishing place means very little if you haven’t beaten yourself. I certainly feel I bet myself in more ways than one yesterday. Some photos below and more to follow as well as race results. Well done to all involved and thanks to the organisers for a quality race.