Killarney Adventure Race 2015

So it is Wednesday, the week after the race and I am finally coming around to saying a few words.  Before I begin all the info on results and pictures can be found here at and on facebook at

I might actually start this one from the end and explain how things went wrong on the day. Let me say first of all that it was an amazing race and the organization was top class. That was until one man made one hell of a mistake!

In the weeks leading up to this race I had trained hard, raced well and ate as healthily as I could, therefore when one mistake by a marshall ruins a great chance of a good result it can be hard to take. As it was my first time of really having a chance to be in top three on a regular basis or maybe even win, it hit me hard when all fell apart last Saturday.

Our little group on the cycle ( I’m there in the middle, red shoes!)

After a great 7km hill run on strickeen hill to start I found myself in the chasing pack for the cycle. The cycle was tough but I found myself enjoying the downhills more than ever and the uphills really felt ok. The views through the fog and early morning mist were fantastic with the odd flock of sheep doing their best to derail a few cyclists. A group of four of us chased the top three coming to the end of the bike stage and I was exactly where I wanted to be. I knew the run would sort out the final positions. An 18km mountain run up and down Mangerton mountain. At the 5km mark in the run things all went wrong, I had just moved into 3rd place when my stomach started to give me trouble. A quick toilet break and a drop to 5th place was no problem, the main problem would be around the corner at the bottom of the hill. As I rounded the corner I was met by the top 4 lads running back towards me explaining we had been marshalled in the wrong direction. We ran back up the trail meeting all the top 15 athletes coming down towards us. We gathered in a group and decided the race was over as a contest. Some had done 4 km more than others and down a hill to add to that. We all decided to finish the course and not to dib in at the finish line. We carried on up Mangerton and back down again. Considering everyone was so dissapointed, be it that they were in with a winning chance, a chance of a PB, or a chance of good adventure series points, there was still some great stories, craic and fun as we plodded our way to the finish. Personally the run and cycle home was tough as the adrenalin and motivation that was driving me on had disappeared.

I crossed the line after 4 hours of racing and to be totally honest I haven’t felt so deflated in years. A total anti climax to what could of been a complete opposite feeling. These things happen though, and I think these events make you stronger and mentally fitter in many ways.

A nice shot of the kayak stage on Muckross Lake.

Next up is Sea to Summit in November and I’m looking to bring my time down and possibly break the 3 hour mark for the first time in this race.

Gaelforce West 2015 Race Report

A last minute panic on Wednesday and I decided I would sign up for Gaelforce West. It has become my most religious race. This is due mainly to the fact that it was my first ever adventure race in 2010. Little did I know that I would be hooked and end up competing at this level. I remember 2010 and the feeling I had when I finished. It was an identical feeling I had yesterday at 9.20am when I crossed the finish line. It is a feeling of massive accomplishment and pure adrenalin. There is no doubt Gaelforce West is still drawing a big crowd as around 1500 people lined up to test themselves yesterday.

This year the race had an extra early start. I left Galway at 2.15am, hopped on the bus in Westport at 4.00am and the race started at 5.30am. This in itself was a bit of an ordeal but I had to try and turn it into some fun to keep the positive thoughts flowing !

We made our way from the Bus to Glasillaun beach and in the dawn light the race kicked off bang on time. The course has been well explained in my blog from last year so I will try and give a different sort of view on the race yesterday.

We hit out into the first run of 14km, mostly on trail along the famine trail, Killary Harbour. I jumped into the lead group and would stay in the top three for all of the 14km. The run is very technical along the coastal area with very nasty ground, which really zaps the energy early on. We startled a flock of sheep early on which scampered along beside us before running down the cliff face towards the sea. I had images of a few loosing their footing and going for a swim below. It was far more likely this would happen to one of us. The pace was manageable and I found myself really enjoying this section. This, of course ,was down to all the running on mountains in Vancouver in the heat. I knew I had harder times ahead in this race, but you have to enjoy it when you are going well. I finished the 14km in 56minutes and landed at the kayak in good nick. The short 7.50minute kayak across the fjord was nice apart from a few waves from passing boats and jetskis and I came out of the kayak in second place. A 3.5km run across soft bog and along the Delphi River to Delphi adventure centre was next and onto the bike to test out the transitional legs. I knew that my lack of biking in recent times would be a big factor. Myself and the eventual winner Kieran Kelly stayed up front for the first half of the cycle. Then came the hills and my legs got a little worried!

I would manage to keep in touch with the front four, that included Kieran and three more athletes that passed me on the bike section, until the mountain. A quick scurry up and down Croagh Patrick was next. This is by far the most gruelling part of the race. Your legs are screaming, and to make matters worse within 200 metres of the top I started to sway. I saw stars, possibly even little rabbits onfront of my eyes, I can’t really recall! This must of been “the wall” and I knew I had to fight through it. I turned at the top, around a minute slower than last year, and decided to let fly on the way down and hope the rabbits went away. To my delight I made it down in one piece, without a fall, and was ready for the final bike section, somehow lying in third place once again with last years winner Dessie Duffy and Kieran ahead. The final bike section includes a 2km section called the skelp where most riders dismount and run with the bike due to the terrain. I lost about two minutes to the leaders in this part, and was overtaken by two ,  but I just didn’t have the energy to go any faster.

I fought off a few cramps on the final 14km on the bike and managed a decent last 2km run to the finish to come in in 6th place, very happy to beat last years time by over 5 minutes.

This feeling of accomplishment I mentioned before is there for anyone that beats themselves and even though I find myself at a stage where I have a chance to win one of these races, the most important thing for me right now is that I am improving. A huge congrats to everyone involved and especially to my friends dad who completed his 10th Gaelforce West in a row at the age of 58 yesterday!

Here are some links to the race yesterday and my training over the last few months.

Grouse grind, Dam and Little Goat

Another fun day running and hiking today. I completed the famous Grouse Grind climb, over 2800 steps. I am told my time of 35.52 minutes was very respectable! I carried on hiking to Dam Mountain and Little Goat Mountain before dragging my weary legs home. It was considerably hotter today as well so I am feeling it this evening. The views were amazing throughout and even though the recent forest fires have left a smoky sky, I really enjoyed the wilderness of British Columbia once more.  




I also met this guy, however he is in an enclosure. I don’t like to see animals in  pens but I heard these guys were rescued while injured so I felt better then.

If you are ever in the Vancouver area check this out. A lung buster. 

Sheep Trails and Deer Antlers

I’m sure this title is a little confusing for many! It is, however, a good reflection of my run on the Western Way Trail yesterday. I went fishing for the afternoon and stuck on my trail runners to do a similar run on the trail as I had completed 2 weeks ago. I decided to veer off the trail early on and follow the bog and lakeshore to the base of the mountain before returning along the marked trail. As I ran through the bog my only secure footing was on the trails made by mountain sheep. It was incredibly soft and slippy ground but I feel I am improving on this terrain. The mountain is only a 25 minute scramble, but it is very steep, sometimes scarily so, and can be slippy under foot. The views from the top were incredible as always. On my return journey I spotted a very unusual object on the side of the trail.


Red Deer antler found on the trail. Amazing.

Red Deer shed their antlers (made of bone) in March and April every year and they grow back longer the next year with more points (tines) on them. The antlers can grow at a rate of an inch per day.

I completed a very tricky 17km in 1hr 45 minutes and was glad to hop in the lake for a quick cool down. I had caught dinner earlier so I cooked up a tasty brown trout when I got home.


Brown trout for tea.


The view from the boat mooring on the Gleann shore of Lough Corrib, Galway.

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 !


A passing shower up top


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.


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.

First Race of 2015, Gaelforce Sky Run 20km.

A little breeze on top of the hill!

Finally my 2015 posting will start to ramp up in the next few weeks. Please excuse any spelling mistakes as my cat is either on my lap or on the keyboard as I type!

Due to adverse weather including snow melt and storm force winds the course today was altered. We were now due to run a 10km loop twice taking in a 350metre climb on a boggy hill both times. I have to say of all the races I have taken part in this one was shaping up to be seriously tough. Gael to storm force winds with a driving mist and the ground was so soft and slippy that trail runners seemed more like slippers.

I decided after a strange week, busy at work and a head cold that this was going to be more of a really hard training session than a competitive race for me. I knew I wasn’t going to be at full fitness but that this race would stand to me later in season, It was strangely enough my first ever mountain running race, which wasn’t part of an adventure race. I’m still a greenhorn really !

At 9am we hit the trail after a 2 km warm up. I felt ok and stayed with the lead group for the majority of the first lap. I could tell there were some great runners here today though. After around 2km we hit some really boggy ground with one of the group taking a tumble, and I could swear he disappeared in the mud for a few seconds. I was to find out how this felt a little later . We managed to wade through this section and reach the base of the mountain. It is only 350 ish metres but it is slippy,very very soft in parts and steep, fun and painful. At the summit the gael force winds hit with a bang and as we descended the wind was so strong you had to lean into it to balance even a bit. I had a slip or two on the descent but managed to catch the lead group at the bottom. At the dib station at the bottom my dibber didn’t work and by time it did 5 guys had screeched away in the distance. A hard blow but I settled into my ” training” mode and decided to push myself and not worry about others for a while.

The second lap was similar, surprise there, a bit harder as I tired and I fell about 5 times. The falls were fine as the ground was so soft. A few guys passed me in the last 2km but all in all I felt good on the mountain and felt I lost most time on the road/trail sections. Some work to do here maybe. I haven’t seen the full results yet but I was definately somewhere in top 10. Not bad considering I haven’t really got into mountain training mode yet this year.

I would highly recommend this course, even for a training route and hope to come back fit and ready next year. Nice to have the first of 2015 under the belt.  Now for sleep !

Sea to Summit Race Report 2014

The last race of a busy season finally arrived on Saturday. I was feeling good and reckoned I had all the training I could get under my belt completed. I will let the photos tell most of the story with this one so as not to bore you too much. The link below shows some of the times. Unfortunately I have upload problems with my garmin so stats are not available yet.

All in all the weather was fantastic and the crowd amazing. A total of 1700 athletes competed in the 2 races on offer. A hell of a lot of people going up and down Croagh Patrick mountain in one day.


Looking very composed before the start!


I decided to stick with my tactic of staying close to the front but not burning out in the process. I held with the lead runners over the first 4km, completing this split in 14 minutes before hitting for the mountain on the bike. Unfortunately the lead pack lost me on the bike but I soon gathered a new chase group and was happy to stay with them until the mountain. I knew I would be able to gain some ground on this section. I felt good on the mountain both going up and coming down and was delighted to see I was the fastest athlete on the day over this section.


Chasing pack just before the mountain.


Heading up Croagh Patrick.


Just at the base heading for my bike. Disaster almost struck at my bike when I couldn’t find where I had left it. Rookie mistake but thanks to Emma standing close by taking photos I was redirected and was soon on the bike ready for off.

Once again the bike section turned out to be my downfall. I lost about 8 to 9 minutes on the top three during this section. Gear, bikes, helmets and years of biking experince all come into play, along with international triathlon elete athletes in the field. I am still only learning. Hopefully I can narrow a few aspects down and shave some time off my biking in the next few years. This is also a very hilly course with some crazy steep sections zapping every last ounce of energy from legs already screaming after the mountain.

The final 4km run went alot better than previous years and I managed to gain one place during this split.


Crossing the finish line. As always an amazing feeling. In particular it was great to see my parents and Emma cheering me across line. Even better they thought I was third, having missed a few guys cross a few minutes earlier ! A minute shaved from last years time was good and considering the quality of the field ahead of me, 8th position was very respectable.


A really nice medal, a well organised event and I look forward to giving next year another whack. Thanks to the massive amount of volunteers for making this a super event in the race calender.

Wet and windy bank holiday weekend!

The last few days training were tough. I decided to push it, especially in my session today, and with weather conditions becoming more and more testing it wasn’t easy. It is less than two weeks to the next adventure race.  I plan to taper next week to give myself the best chance of beating last years times. (3.04 hours). I reckon it will be my last long race for a while as the off season comes around. The plan will be to bring down my times over 10km during winter and work of speed on bike as well as throwing in some longer trail runs when the weather isn’t too crazy. I will give the football a few months too, as I have missed it of late. It is possible to train in any weather but when there are mountains and tricky, technical trails involved I have to be careful too.

A snippet here about an irishman who ran 50,000km in the last 4 years!

My training over last few days can be seen in stats below. My 10km hill run was my best time on this course so far!

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 !

Gaelforce North, 1 week away

A week tomorrow to my next big adventure. A trip up to Donegal for a race that went well last year and I hope I can improve on my time this year.

Training has been good all week, apart from a little niggle in my hip while running. Hoping the foam roller will help. Today was a good brick session, with a 6km run thrown into my usual hilly 45km cycle. Possibly the hardest session this week was the interval running on wednesday. Intervals never get any easier. I just keep telling myself it is short term pain for long term results, or something like that anyhow!

This weeks training can be seen in this link.


Twelve Ben mountains last Tuesday.