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.



Swollen Knees!

Race Report- Connemara Adventure Challenge 2014

At last I have a few minutes to put a few words together about my race on Saturday.

I arrived at 8.15am to a rain drenched Leenane with the rain sheeting down off the mountains all around Killary Fjord. As I boarded the bus to take us to the start line in Killary Adventure centre I could feel an air of gloom about the weather yet plenty positive thoughts flying about too. To add to this some guys on a stag with the main man dressed in drag were doing the race and they entertained the bus as we waited to leave. Preparation may have been a slight issue in their case and I’m not sure they realised what lay ahead!

There were approximately 100 in my wave and some familiar faces got me thinking straight away that this was going to be a tough race.

The countdown began and we were off at about 5 ! The first obstacle after 5 feet is a bog drain and we all scrambled up and onto the wet bog to get the legs moving. I had decided to go at my own steady pace from the start and to my amazement I was out at the front very quickly. I would go on to hold this lead until 5km into the cycle when I made my first mistake.

The first 4.5km is along the bog and some bog/forestry track, over a few streams and wow was it soft. On more than one occasion i went into mud up over my knee and slipped in all directions. My Salomon trail runners were getting the ultimate test today, as were my dodgy ankles. I reached the first dibber in just over 12 minutes and hit for the mountain run/hike/crawl/scramble. I reached the summit in just over 12 minutes again followed very closely by two more competitors. These mountain runs never get any easier.The downhill mountain run was as scary as they come. I had two little falls and one bad tumble . I went for it as I knew the ground was soft enough that a fall wouldn’t be too sore. It took me 6.38 minutes from the summit to the bike transition. This included a run across a river in a decent sized flood. I reckon this is just to clean us off before the bike !

I grabbed my bike, a mountain bike this year, and set off on a tough 8km trail cycle. The cycle included another river crossing and some dangerous downhills but all in all I was feeling ok and felt my speed was decent. Let me mention that feeling ok in these races basically means there are no major muscle problems. Mostly you are in pain from pushing hard. At around the 5km mark another biker approached and overtook me but we agreed we could work together for a bit. That was when I had a minor chain problem and had to stop for 30 seconds. He took off and even though he was only 100 metres ahead I couldnt reel him in. My mountain bike choice was coming back to haunt me. But I was having fun! I reached the road section, which is about 9km on main roads and would take us back to Killary for the next dib. The road section was ok with a head wind for the first 2km and then you turn towards Killary and the wind was from behind. This would prove to be the easiest section of the race in my view.

I reached the bike transiton and ran about 1km across bog to find the Kayak starting point for our paddle across Killary Harbour.My time was at 1.16 at the kayak transition and I was feeling good . This would change rapidly in the coming minutes. My muscles of course were at tiring point and the combination of sitting in the kayak and the cold water took its toll. The kayak was a good 2km in very choppy seas. At the half way point another competitor overtook me and he was to be the eventual winner. The man in second place was just ahead of the two of us so the race was well and truly on.

On reaching the end of the Kayak section I was burning oil. I hopped out and could barely stand. Had my muscles seized or was I going to cramp? Or worse was I going to have to drop out. All these thoughts raced as I saw my rivals tear away up the hill. I slowly started to move and YES the feeling was returning. Within 500 metres I was into a stride and after 1km I was running at 4km/minute pace. My only problem was I couldn’t for the life of me run any faster. I was burnt from possible too fast a start to race. I kept the lads in first and second in view for the entire 9km run which includes 5km up hill. There was rain, wind and the occasional trip hazard and stream to navigate. At this point in the race a little stick can be annoying as the body really doesnt want to go on!

I kept my steady pace right to the end and crossed the line 1.40 minutes behind the winner Chris Caulfield and just over a minute behind Alan Kearney. Well done guys, ye were top class. As was every competitor that took part because the conditions were awful and it takes guts no matter what. It was great meeting all the competitors arriving home over the next 45 minutes. Unfortunately I was too cold to hang around to cheer all 400 people home.

A great day and a good race to start my 2014 Adventure racing series. Results can be seen below and I will post some photos during the week!

Race prep. Connemara Adventure Challenge.

Saturday is race day so after a nice bike and run session yesterday it is mostly rest today and tomorrow. I had a good bike session yesterday testing out a borrowed mountain bike I am using for the race. This race includes a 16km cycle 9 of which are very rough and I have punctured 2 years running so this year for the sake of losing a few minutes I am going heavy duty! My run yesterday was a steady 10km in 38 minutes , not pushing full pace but feeling good after my week of beach training.

I hope to challenge seriously but all in all I just want a steady time (around 2hr15min or so) with it being my first real race of the year. It will be fun too. The course can be seen in this link

I will post some pre race pictures tomorrow at registration. Let the games begin!

Below is a link to my training sessions in the last week with emphasis on running. The real bike work begins from next week onward.




Mountain times and some Football to throw me off track.

I finally got the chance to upload some stats from my mountain run last week!

I had a marathon football session yesterday between a match and then a 5 a side tournament. All in all I am wrecked today and a good rest evening is needed. No better time to reflect on some tough challenges ahead!

Next aim is to get some biking in this week and then a 10km race on one of the Aran Islands at the weekend. We are getting some great weather in the West for a change so I hope to make the most of it around a busy work schedual.

The Big race is Saturday week. The WAR wicklow adventure race. 72km in total. Followed by Connemara Adventure Challenge race 2 weeks later to get the racing season underway! Links below..

Carrauntoohil. Ireland’s Tallest Mountain.1038metres.

A nice leisurely start to the trek!


Myself and my friend Colin left Galway early this morning and 3 hours later we were climbing towards the clouds in Kerry on Carrauntoohil mountain. I write this post while warming up in car after the finish. The first 3km were easy with a very slight gradient. Perfect to warm up after the long journey.


After this nice start came the area known as the Devils Ladder. As you can guess this is s very steep stretch.  basically navigating a waterfall on the side of mountain! 


This is the very bottom of ladder and this the view looking down from a small distance up the ladder. 


At this point the weather started to close in. I was happy with my pace and the Devils ladder was easier than I expected. I came to the top of the ladder and turned right for the Summit climb. Visibility was awful and rain and wind cold. No better reason to go faster so I stepped it up. The last couple of hundred metres to the top were relatively easy with a steep but manageable incline.


After a quick stop at summit I turned for home. I could see very little apart from the cross. Not being a religious man I reckoned I would be wasted hanging out with a cross so home and heat sounded good. I descended quickly and all in all I was up and down in around 2hours and 15 minutes including a few stops for food and chatting to some hikers.  12.51km in total.
Carrauntoohil is definitely worth a hike/run.  I will be back on a day with no cloud!
I will post garmin times later.  Now time for some re fueling !

Hill training with friends

Back to a bit of hill training today at my favourite training spot pre mountain season in Castlehackett. I brought pace up a small bit today and trained at a higher BPM. It’s time to get back into hard training after recent set back with illness. I was very lucky to have the company of my girlfriend and two other friends today. Bumping into them along the 3 loops of the circuit was fun!

Have a look at the link above and the great things you can do with this Garmin site.


Mountain running Training

Two very interesting mountain running clips. The Woods seminar and the Fat Dog Race above. They both show how in training the uphill and downhill sections are equally as important to train for. In my experience in past I have trained hard on uphills and have been caught out on downhill sections.

These clips do show how much fun mountain running can be and how the scenery can help a little when suffering a tough climb!