Western Way Galway

The highlight of last week was a training session on the Western Way with my good training buddie Sinead Keogh. Sinead is taking part in the Wicklow Way Race so no better person to talk strategies with over a long run.

20170517_202449Sinead Keogh cruising on the Westrn Way.

After a long days work, starting at 4am and finishing at lunch time, I managed an hours sleep before setting off for Oughterard. The Western Way is 179 kilometres in length and someday I may take this on. It goes from Oughterard in Co. Galway to Ballycastle, Co. Mayo. Last Wednesday was more of a “time on the legs” training session. We decided to tackle 21km of the Western Way from Oughterard to the end of the boardwalk between Maam and Maamcross. We would return on the same route to Oughterard. A total of just over 41 kilometres on my garmin in the end but I didn’t count the first 500 metres walking at the start and the finish!

The full route and stats can be seen here for those interested. The course took us along the Gleann road with Lough Corrib on our right all the way. The evening was gorgeous and the anglers, enjoying the peak of the mayfly season were staying on the water a little later than usual. We would follow the road along the shoreline for 15km before a short bog run and then a few miles on the boardwalk. We met sheep, lambs, lots of flies and the odd local wondering what we were at heading out the road this time of the evening. Everyone was really friendly although one car did stop suddenly thinking we were larger than we looked. After leaving the road the boardwalk was tricky and our pace dropped considerably. Keeping in mind we were running slowly as pace was not important on such a run. I tripped and saved my fall about three times on the boardwalk, while Sinead only had one mini tumble. We were proud of our saves rather than the expected face plants. We followed the boardwalk along the river, passed some mini waterfalls and through the forestry meeting two people and their dog at one point, as surprised to see us as we were them.

As the western way meanders around the Maam Turk’s and leaves Galway it passes through an old haunt of mine on the Erriff Fishery at Aasleagh Lodge in Leenane. The Aashleagh cottages have recently been taken over by friends of mine. Joanna and Richie are setting out on an adventure of their own as they will take care of the running of the cottages and hope to attract fishermen to stay there during the fishing season and over a longer season hikers, mountain runners and adventure enthusiasts. The place is a perfect location for setting out on day trips to the Ben’s, the Turk’s, Mweelrea and various other mountains, not to mention Killary Fjord and it’s adventure centres at Delphi and Killary. The area is so beautiful and a few days holiday here ereally does take you into the wilds.

Check out the link below for all the information needed.

Aashleagh Cottages

We reached the end of the boardwalk in around 2 hours, refilled our water bottles from a local stream and turned for home as a shower rolled in across the Maam Turk’s. The rain left a nice film of water on the boardwalk, which went from trippy to slippy in seconds!

20170517_202548Coming off the boardwalk and onto the trail leading back to the Gleann Road.

The Hill of Doon is in the background of the photo above. Some of you may remember this from my training sessions last summer before the ITERA adventure race. My kayak training took place here. It was, quite ironically, also the exact location where the race finished for us, competitively at least, during that stormy night.

We began to slow a little around the 30km mark and were amazed at the amount of hills on the way back. I never realised that a seemingly flat road going one direction would be incredibly hilly in the other. Then again we had done 30km already in the middle of a weeks training. We ran all the hills, some slowly and Sinead mentioned screaming calves once or twice, but we kept moving nicely. I ate one mars bar during the run and drank nearly three bottles of water but generally felt good. Our tactical race chats were great as well as general random stories. The time flies when you run and chat. As we both said, there is no way we would run 42km alone on a Wednesday evening without good company. The topic of racing disappeared and the idea of food and getting home began as we saw the finish wasn’t far off. I mentioned soaking the legs in the Corrib before we went home and Sinead agreed it was a good plan. We arrived at the car as the light faded and popped down to the pier for a freezing soak before heading for Galway. Not a bad Wednesday evening.

As my manager said after we got promoted on Saturday. “sure your going alright, a marathon between soccer training on a Tuesday and Thursday isn’t too bad”. A massive shout out to all involved with Maree Oranmore FC on our promotion to the Premier division. What an effort by everyone. A proud day for myself and a few of the older lads as well, we have fought long and hard to get back to the top after 5 years in the first division.

 

All Alone

There are times when we all like to be alone, however, this tends to happen quite alot when putting the hours in for adventure racing. With an unusual work schedule and everyone working and living busy lives we have to make the most of our free time. In saying this I spent six hours in the wilderness yesterday, not a very long time, but long enough to think alot. These sessions can be great for focusing the mind on both training, goals and everything in life really. It is not for everyone but for those of you out there who like to rough it, you have to give this a go.  One thing is for sure, there is an adventure playground only an hour from everyone living in Galway and it is going almost unnoticed. There are a few people out there, but apart from my mountain bike section yesterday, I never saw a soul.

20160402_093655

I set off by water from the Gleann shore just North West of Oughterard. A steady 6km paddle brought me to the Boardwalk at the Failmore River on the Western Way. The lake was calm and the cloud was low over the hills, making it almost eery. I decided this session would be more about putting the time in than speed, as most sessions will be this year, but in saying that I need to strenghthen in certain areas so will push harder at some points. Yesterday I decided to give the kayaking a good bash and enjoy the trek and the biking sections a little more.

20160402_115243

The end of the hiking section. I hiked at a good pace from my kayak to Corkog Mountain.A round trip of 14km. If you look closely at the left hand side of the photograph you will see a track in the forest where the Western Way boradwalk and my route back to kayak can be found. The majority of the hike was on boardwalk, with a very tricky and slippy ascent and descent of Corkog. I decided not to summit as the cloud was extremely low and being alone it would be a bad move to start exploring up there.

20160402_105219

No I didn’t kayak this piece, but it was one of the nice sights along the trekking stage. Real wilderness.

20160402_130538

This is an unusual sight in Connemara. Yes it is dry, but also having the support of a boardwalk while trekking over the bogs of Connemara is a strange but nice change to my usual routes. This was just before I hopped back into kayak to head back to the bike. I didn’t take any pictures of the biking stage but my mind was too concentrated on not crashing and taking on the hills to take out my phone.

My base for the day was right beside a back entrance to a great mountain biking trail called Derroura Woods. http://www.derrouramountainbikehire.com/trail.htm

This trail was a fitting end to the session, with some technical biking and some good hill climbs mixed in. There is no doubt this course is going to be a regular training ground this summer so anyone in the area feel free to get in touch and Il lead the way into this great wilderness. Camping trips are definately an option up here too, both on the islands and up the mountains.

For the real AR enthusiasts out there I presume ye are following Godzone at the moment. If so keep a keen eye on Team Sneaky Weasel Gang. Our Teammate for ITERA, Byron Munro, is on the team and they are going well. Good luck Byron and your team.

http://godzoneadventure.com/