A Real West of Ireland Day

After an amazing week of weather things turned nasty just as I set my sights on the mountains. I woke up yesterday morning to a gale force wind, extreme cold for April and showers that would cut you in two! In saying this I had a plan and I would stick to it. I drove to my uncles place in Oughterard and would cycle from there to Corkog Mountain, leg it up and down the mountain and cycle back. Sounds a breee doesn’t it !

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A passing shower up top

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Top of Corkog Mountain

I set off into a strong wind and battled the 22km to the base of the mountain in 50 minutes. It was a draining spin to start the day. I only encountered two hail showers enroute so all in all I couldnt complain. I had my energy bars, a banana, mobile, PLB (personal locator beacon), some gels and water all in the bag, so I was ready for a nice climb on a mountain I knew pretty well from a few previous trips. The climb to the top took me 26 minutes, a total of 1.9km of ascent. At times I was on my hands and knees with a very steep ascent. As I reached the top I looked forward to a little rest in the shelter of some rocks, where I took the photos above, but unfortunately a little snow shower hindered my lunch break. The joys of Ireland in springtime.

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The rest of the hike/run was on terrain like above (this is the back of Corkog). It was extremely wet under foot with some very technical running on rock and slippy ground, not to mention a steep descent for the first few hundred metres. As I reached the base it was still 6.5 kilometres back to the bike over pure bog. I dragged myself around enjoying a very strong tail wind and I even tried, unsuccessfully to race a few mountain sheep at one point!

I arrived back to the bike 1 hour and 14 minutes since the ascent began. A little more fuel onboard to get me home and off I went. The spin back was wind assissted and I took over ten minutes off my time into the wind on the way. I travelled along a piece of the Connemarathon route on my way and hope this event went really well today for all those taking part.

I arrived home in time to see Arsenal secure their 8th consecutive win in the league, so all round a pretty successful day. My match was called off today so I’m having a welcomed days rest.

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Race report Connemara Rough Diamond 2014

Saturday had arrived and I left my house around 8.15am to head to Letterfrack in Connemara for the start of the Connemara Rough Diamond. This was a race I had never competed in and was looking forward to the challenge. I was happy to see a few of my fellow competitors lining up at the start. The weather was breezy but fine at the start. We set off running and myself and Shaun Stewart took up the lead towards Diamond hill. An ascent of around 400metres took us around 22 minutes. The ground was mostly paved and gravel track as this is a common tourist hike. We had to shout and clap a few times to clear the tourists out of the way. Shaun started to make some headway on me around the foot of the mountain and I started to feel my lack of hill training of late may not pay off. I managed to summit in 2nd place and took off for my favourite part, the downhill run. It was very tricky with a mist now falling and the paved slabs were like ice sheets. I passed an old school mate on the way down and a big high five gave us both a laugh and a boost!

I reached transition one in 42minutes and set off on the bike a few minutes behind Shaun. An 8km road bike out to the next stage which was an obstacle course in the woods. Craziest part of any adventure race, I reckon. There were zombies jumping out from behind trees, climbing walls, balancing sections, dark tunnels and sumo wrestlers in the bog. Now thats an obstacle course!

Back on the bike and a 13.5km spin out to the beach. This cycle was mostly flat with some really fast sections so a little recovery before hitting the beach and an 8k run. I hoped off the bike , dibbed in and set off for an 8k run, not having a clue of the course ahead. I was still about 4 minutes down on Shaun but I was feeling good. I hit down the beach with a tail wind, knowing that would be different on the way back, keeping a steady 4 min 10 per km. The marshal guiding us on the beach even ran with me for a bit, in his wellies, for a bit of support. Then it was off the beach, over some rough ground, through a river or two, up a little hill, some more rough terrain and back down to another beach called Glasillaun. A run to the end of this beach, a quick dib in and then we turned to face the journey back. It became clear on the beach the difference between people. Shaun passed me about 5 minutes ahead and 3rd, 4th and 5th were all about 2 minutes behind me. I knew it was going to be tough to hold these guys off, especially the guy in third who is very strong on the bike. I left the first beach and started the rough section back. My dibber fell off a few minutes late. I stopped picked it up and hit off again but seconds later all hell broke loose as my ankle buckled under me. I thought things were over but as I got up and moved it was sore but managable. I had 3k to go on run and then it was on the bike all the way home. All I could think of at this point was Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run, and how he ran an ultramarathon on torn ankle ligaments. All I had to do was run 3km on a slight sprain. My pace slowed and the head wind was a killer but I made it to the bike, in quite alot of pain!

The last leg on the bike was as tough as the last 3km run had been. A strong head wind, rain and some nasty hills really took their toll. As I passed the 2 km to go sign I felt I would hold on for 2nd place. Just then I looked behind and their was Martin Flanagan, last years course winner, and winner of Sea to Summit 2013 breathing down my neck. He passed and I told him to take it home in style. I made it to transition about 30 seconds behind Martin and the last run wasn’t long enough to make up the ground. I finished some 20 seconds behind but I was delighted to be there. A podium finish feels good and to beat yourself mentally after the injury as well as a race where I had been very much alone on the course all day felt good too. All in 2 hours 53 minutes and 3rd place.

If any one is looking for a West of Ireland race this is another cracker, it has almost everything and today even the weather decided to go West of Ireland crazy.

I will get my hands on some photos and a full list of results when they are up!

Race stats !

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/600500354

Battered and Bruised but worth it

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.

 

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Swollen Knees!

http://results.sportident.co.uk/home/event.html?eventid=9197f58a-e031-4695-b145-fce16a0c2206

https://i2.wp.com/www.dingleadventurerace.com/images/stories/map/darmap.jpg