Misty Mweelrea

After a lot of hours training last week and increasing my mileage, I finished with a relentless hike on connaught’s highest peak of Mweelrea on Sunday. David and I arrived at Doolough near the base of the mountain at 9.30am and sat looking at a heavy mist descending on the valley above. To go or not to go?!

First selfie of two, no more I swear!

I had never been up Mweelrea for some reason so a day like this could be tricky but no better way to try learn more on my navigational skills. I had my map, compass and all gear to stay warm and dry, well as much aa possible on a wet January day in Ireland.

We started the hike with a river crossing and then a long valley awaited. The ground was soft but less so than that on the Turk’s or Ben’s. We hiked to the base of the mountain range.Mweelrea lies a few kilometres away from the top of most climbing on this hike.After an hour and a quarter we reached 750 metres and there was a peak of 795 and 790 on both sides as we made our way through a narrow gap. Mweelrea peaks at 814metres. A wee bump on the ground to many of you mountain hikers and runners.  I will let the photos talk for this post as my time is limited today. 

As you can see the weather was worsening at this point. I knew if we followed a flat section on the top keeping the ridges on either side and taking a left southerly turn after roughly a kilometre all should be ok. In saying this visibility was extremely poor and conditions just nasty. A slight error saw us go too far to the west and we ended up at 640 metres. At this point i knew the safest thing was to use the gps and get out exact location on map. From there it was possible to reroute and find the base of Mweelrea. This added an hour to hike but when the cold and rain is that bad the gps is essential. I found the map reading fun and had it almost bang on. Using the gps was a safety and shows respect for such conditions. As you can imagine the terrain was soft and slippy so we were hungry at the top. A two second inhalation of a sandwich and we were off back down the mountain. 

On the top and fed. 

The descent was slippy but navigation across the coll went well and we took our time in the tricky descent. A round trip of just over 5 hours had us back to the car. Nearly two hours slower than I expected. the original plan was to do a two hour cycle but we hadn’t factored in needing lights so this will wait for another day. The conditions had us flattened anyhow.  This goes to show to always give yourself plenty daylight and never go up without a map,compass, lots of food and extra dry clothes, especially in January. 

Finally on the top. 

A day to toughen the body and use the mind. 

For anyone that hasn’t checked out Gavin hennigan’s adventure/row, check out the link to his blog below. Phenomenal stuff. 


My First IMRA (Irish Mountain Race Association) Race

My preparation before yesterday hadn’t been what I may have planned but it turned into a good day. The results and times are not up yet and I managed to forget my watch for the race too. All this said I held a good pace throughout and felt I even competed well against some really good runners. The main thing I had in my arsenal yesterday was my lack of any knowledge as to what was ahead of me or where on earth I was on the course in terms of distance to go! I think these things actually worked to my advantage.

I arrived at registration early and hopped on the bus for the spin to the start line well on time. Only five minutes into journey I looked down at my watch, to find out that it wasn’t there. This wasn’t a good start but I decided to try and use it to my advantage. The race was ten minutes late starting, due to a funeral, at which the president was present. I thought as a fellow Galway man that he had come to support my IMRA debut!!

I really had no clue how high the hills would be or how much climbing would be involved. As it turned out there was around 980 metres of ascent but this came over a few rolling hills. I reckon the downhill running was most challenging, both technically and physically draining. The West of Ireland hills are certainly steeper and in general the ground underfoot is much softer.

The distance was my main concern yesterday, 26km, but this didn’t really become a factor as I had no idea how far I had run until I crossed the line. The first 4 km of the race were a slow uphill drag on both gravel and boardwalk to just below the summit of Djouce mountain. This was followed by a few km downhill, which was fast. The next section was through forestry with a few sharp uphills but the majority of this was gravel track and rolling up and down quickly. The scenery was stunning and I managed to take some of it in between breaths. After about 16km the day had warmed up alot and next came a 4km uphill drag, which was very tough. I hiked some of this section in order to give the muscles a chance to switch over and rest. At the top of this hill a group of scouts shouted some encouragement and told us we were 6km from home. A fast descent back towards the main road, a little uphill drag at the bottom and then a cruise/stumble home and I had ran my first IMRA  I received a great welcome from my friends and my sister who came along to support. Thanks guys!

The weather was amazing with sunshine and 12 degrees, almost perfect for running really. The competitors were so friendly and encouraging throughout and all in all I reckon I will return to try out a few more races in the East. I hope to post full results and times later.

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 !


Good support after a wet and windy Saturday!



A soaked and tired figure but it was nice to be greeted by my nieces on return to my car! I knocked my final long session on the head and feeling good after it. about 60km on bike and a 9km run. Weather has been crazy but all in all my last week before the race next weekend has gone well. A taper this week and hopefully some half decent weather next Saturday should see me beat last years time. Fingers and toes crossed !

Weird Weather!

A couple of good outings the last two days with an 11km hill run yesterday and some spinning after, then a 18km road run this evening. What is most confusing is the weather. Heavy rain, wind and flooding one minute, followed by clear skies and even warm weather the next. It is impossible to know what to wear heading out! so tonight I put on my running tights and an extra running top due to stormy conditions outside. 5 minutes into the run the sun came out and before you know it I was swallowing flies running along by a lovely calm river! Good old unpredictable Ireland. On the up side my running seems to be still improving, especially these distance runs which are easier than I was expecting. Hoping to knock out a few miles on the bike over the next few days and give the legs a little rest from all the pounding. time now for some homemade apple crumble and a nice cup of tea.

Stats below from the last few days .


Sunday Session

The weather has really changed over the last week and we are finally hitting some winter conditions. It is that time of year when I have no idea what to wear, especially when going on a brick session like I was today. In the end I settled for a tri suit, under armour on top and a cycling jersey. Perfect for the bike, although a bit on the warm side while running.

I trained on my usual course, with a 19km cycle from Galway , a 10km run through bog, hills and forest trails and decided to extend the cycle home to 38km. All in a ll a good session, although the wind was really tough in sections. As always the wind helped in other sections as well. This 10km bog run always varies in time from my best of 49 minutes to about 53 minutes. Today was just over the 50 mark so I was happy enough, having saved myself a little for the final bike leg. I fueled throughout on some high five gels and a Clif bar after the run.

This training took me around 3 hours in total, which I need to do at least once a week with Sea to Summit only 3 weeks away. The intensity is just below race pace, leaving a little in the tank if possible. In saying that the rest of my Sunday was very slow!

The three legs of this brick session can be seen in the stats below.


Gaelforce West, here we come !

A long logistical day today, with registration and bike drop off along with lots of traffic and distance to contend with. Compared to some of those travelling from all corners of the country I can’t complain with this one though. All in all I am feeling good, a little tired but good. I will be up at 3am to head for Westport and catch the bus to the start line.
All I want tomorrow is an improvement on 2013 race, and wherever I finish will be fair after that. The weather looks decent, my training has gone well so fingers crossed for a good day.
Pre race formguide featured on MSAI website today.
Try not to mix me up with the othe O’ Farrell featured in report!
To finish I am posting last years times and splits so hopefully this time tomorrow there will be a few minutes shaved off.
Course: Gael Force  
Time Taken: 03:45:51  
Start Wave: 1  
Location Leg Total
Kayak Start 00:57:47 00:57:47
Kayak End 00:07:02 01:04:49
Bike Start 00:14:40 01:19:29
Foot of Mtn 01:15:24 02:34:53
Summit 00:30:30 03:05:23
Foot of Mtn 00:12:22 03:17:45
Finish 00:28:06 03:45:51

Mountains, Bike and Heat

A real West of Ireland training session today, apart from the weather. 25 degrees and sunshine! I decided to make the most of my day off and get a good bit of training in. I set off for the Twelve Ben mountains, 40 miles from Galway and threw the bike on the car to make sure I managed a bit on the bike today too. I arrived around 1pm, in some crazy heat but hit off with a plan to do 3 peaks and then a 30km  spin on bike from car to Clifden and back. I took a few videos as I went along and the session can be seen on Garmin link once more. The total for the hike, run and bog run finish was 9km, but man did it feel like alot more!

An evening of football is planned now, with Brazil v Mexico awaiting. First of all a dip in Galway Bay to cool down the muscles.

Enjoy the weather !!






Paddies Weekend !

I had an almost alcohol free Paddies weekend as the world around me seemed to go crazy. Two drinks with friends on saturday night was as mad as I went! I made the most of a free Sunday to get a good cycle and a hill run in. Details can be seen again on garmin links. All in all, 64k on bike with a 6.4k run at the half way mark. I haven’t been training at this distance on bike and I felt I clearly need to do more long spins in coming months. Paddies day was a rest day, although I was working and moving house! Into the gym today for some core, stretching, and a spinning session. I had soccer training straight after. I find this mix of training is working well for me at the moment.The plan for the rest of the week is to get an interval or two in running and another long spin on the bike towards the weekend. It’s great to see more light in the day and the prospect of some decent training weather.





West of Ireland

Orange alert: Coastal flood warning as 130km winds set to sweep country (via TheJournal.ie) http://www.thejournal.ie/storm-warning-ireland-winds-1282584-Jan2014/
This has been the ongoing story this winter in the West. There is no doubt it interferes with training and all sports. Wrap up well everyone and wait for the winds to pass before venturing out!
I’m just in from a few hours shooting with the dogs on the bog. Great exercise and fun for both me and the dogs!!  Weekends training will develop mostly depending on the weather!