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. 

Vancouver so far 

Just a quick post on amazing British Columbia so far! 

The second picture is from the fanzine at the women’s World Cup final today . Well done to the U.S. on a stunning win. To refer to my post the other day, how many guys can say they have scored from the halfway line..

My Vancouver family   


The next few pictures give an idea of the beauty of Vancouvers surrounding countryside and coastline. I also managed to run every day so far and did a few nice hikes and scenic walks as well. Just getting warmed up for the weeks ahead.      

What a view.


Me caught looling like a serious poser!
Bowen island trail.


Bowen island trail.
Deep cove hike.

Photo taken on the move.  


Never say Never 

To those of you out there yet to run a mile, check out this ladies achievement at the age of 71! Class!!​

On another note I found a new local run here along the coast and even managed to call in to my parents on the way past. It’s always nice to run somewhere new close to home. As you can see in picture below, we have some nice wild areas right on our doorstep in Galway. 


I saw a nice sight at work yesterday too! For those mink haters out there, they do a lot of damage to wildlife but I must say they are a great species to survive and have become part of nature in our country in the past 15 years. 

Next post will be from Vancouver , Canada! 

The joy of hills 

Finally a picture of the new mtb, the seat is up a little high I must add.     

This was where we spent a super few days last weekend, at a friends wedding. I even managed a run along canal to take in some of the Oxfordshire countryside. A Beautiful place.

This week has been crazily busy but I managed to squeeze in some good runs, mixing a 5km,9km and a 12km run in with a good session on mountain bike. The latter of the runs was on hills in knockma, a place I mentioned before, but is perfect for hill repeats. I really enjoy the hills, it’s just a shame I’m an hour from most by car. Today myself and a friend cycled a 55km route with some nice climbs included, far more interesting than cycling on flat busy roads I reckon. 

I have to mention the Womens World Cup, a very underrated tournament with some great games and top class players on show. 6 games left and if you haven’t had a chance try catch one at least. A great French team lost to Germany on penalties last night, or p.k’s as they call them in states. Very unlucky for French as they were top class throughout. I will be in Vancouver to soak up the atmosphere during thefinal! 

So Canada awaits this week as I hit for British Columbia for a month. I can’t wait to sample the hills/proper mountains out there! I will post photos as I go and hope to keep fit for gaelforce west in August after I return. 

Ah, it is nice to blog again

Yes I am finally blogging again. My apologies to anyone who enjoys the odd post here. To say the least it has been a crazy few weeks. I did, however, manage to fit in a few runs and cycles as well as a new purchase! Photos to follow on this one. A second hand Cannondale rush MTB. A new hobby in the making.

The highlight of the past few weeks was the Croi Cycle for charity. A loop cycle of 120km around Lough Corrib. Myself and a colleague decided to take part and it turned out to be a really enjoyable day. The cycle leaves galway with thousands of cyclists heading anticlockwise around Lough Corrib. The weather was fantastic. The only real moment of madness was when my friend David’s phone went flying while on a 57km per hour decent. Not a scratch on the phone and I really have no idea how!

I was really happy with my own fitness on the day and enjoyed some speedy group cycling which I rarely encounter in my own training. The different shapes and sizes of bikes and people on these charity cycles are incredible with every fitness level and every type of person all getting together for a common goal. To finish and have fun!


Just after the halfway mark we head for the final drag before turning for home at Maam Cross.

And finally, the finish and a big congrats to David who had, as he put it “never been so unprepared in his life for an event”


Training has been going well around work and sleep of late. I am taking part in an 85km cycle on Saturday and I hope to do a 10 mile run in Galway the following weekend before hitting the skies for Vancouver for the month of July. I hope to get lots of running in over there and more than likely take part in Gaelforce West after I come home.

Now as it is my afternoon off and the sun is out I think a quick interval session and then relax and soak up the rare occasion the sun comes out on this little island!