Finish line photo with fellow racer Jerry O Sullivan, who put in a great performance yesterday.
Another Gaelforce completed yesterday and I once again left everything I had out on the course (including a water bottle and half my bike repair bag!). I will start with all the positives and see how we go from there. I presume from previous race reports that alot of you understand the layout of these races so I will keep this one fairly brief.
I left home yesterday morning at 3.15am and headed for a 5am bus pickup in Westport. A stiff breeze was already blowing as we made our way to the beach for the race start. A quick warm up on the beach and we were off for the first leg, a 14km trail run. I clocked in at the kayak in a slightly quicker time than last year at 57mins and hit the rough seas of Killary Fjord to paddle to the opposite side. After a 10 minute spin across I was back on my feet and heading across the bog and up the road to Delphi to grab my bike and hit the roads towards Crough Patrick. The pace all the way so far had been frantic but I was glad to have a tail wind to recover a little and get the legs spinning. A quick climb over Tawnyard hills and a fast descent the other side saw a few competitors get left behind. I had lost the front few but knew I had a good mountain run ahead to make up some ground at least. The last 6km before the mountain was off road, into a force 5 wind and uphill. I clocked one of the kilometres in only 4minutes. Definately could of run that one faster ! This section really took the wind out of us all and to face the mountain straight after was daunting. To my surprise I was reasonably ok on the ascent and as it turned out I was the quickest competitor in the field on the descent (10.54min). A nice turn around there, after a few falls in other races this year. So after a windy, bumpy ride up and down the great Crough Patrick it was back on the bike for a 14km cycle over bog road, rough track and finally coastal road to Westport. A little addition yesterday was a 1.5km forest trail run to the finish line which truly was torture! I finished in 8th place in 3 hours 50 minutes, a little slower than 2013 but a longer course and worse conditions would have had a huge impact on these figures.
I learnt a few important lessons in this race. Firstly stick with the strong bikers and never get caught on your own. Work a little more on my running including breathing technique. I felt awful on the run at times yesterday. I am blaming this on a slight diet change this week (too much carbohydrates). I also reckon it is time to get my breathing tecnique mastered along with heart rate being a little high. I am still a little off pace on the bike therefore I need to look into longer and more challenging training routes.
All these challenges will keep me busy in the months ahead. It is great to know how much work is needed to improve at this sport. You are never the full athlete and there is always room for lots of improvements.
Once again thanks to Gaelforce and well done to all 2000 entrants on a great achievement on a very tough day.