Our Club athletes for "The RACE"
What is the challenge ?
To finish competitors have to complete 15km of kayaking, 166km of cycling, 5km of mountain running and 64km of road and trail running. Crucially, they must complete all this in under 24 hours. It is aimed at providing the ultimate 24 hour test of endurance.
North West Donegal has been chosen for The Race 2016 as it provides the perfect blend of beauty and more importantly, difficulty. The Race is held in early March to increase the chances of challenging weather conditions during the event. It is the toughest of courses at the toughest of times. In many cases it is how an athlete deals with the wind, rain or snow that will determine if they have what it takes to finish.
There is no typical competitor. Competitors come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. You do not need to be an elite runner, cyclist or kayaker. Those who compete in and complete The Race will be those who refuse to give up.
The focus of the The Race will be on the quality of experience rather than quantity of participants. The field will be limited to 150 participants to protect the local environment which includes Glenveagh National Park. The intention is not to exclude but rather to create an experience that will be one of the toughest but also most memorable of a competitor's life.
The Race is a not for profit event will all proceeds going towards the work of Self Help Africa. It is organised by Sand2Snow Adventures and Gartan Outdoor Education Center.
An absolute juggernaut of a challenge physically and mentally. Not just on the day but from the day you sign up for it. - Daniel Cottell, Competitor 2015
Awesome event, put on by an amazing team, in an incredibly beautiful county. Definitely one for the bucket list. - Rose Leith, Competitor 2015
Who is taking part ?
Paul Tierney - Team leader & club captain
Paul has a world of knowledge in adventure racing and has taken part in The Race before finishing a fine 5th place overall. Paul has gathered a great team of athletes in the club who all want to take part and finish this great challenge.
"I competed in the inaugural event in 2014 finishing in 5th place. I guess like a lot of people The Race took me by surprise, and not everything went my way on the day, but the overall experience is one that I will never forget and I think I learned a lot about myself on the day and it has made me a more resilient person. Since then my partner and I have welcomed our daughter Emma into the world so my time for training has reduced but even with fitting in more family time I'm hoping that I can improve on my time from 2014. I'm also leading a team of friends from GoTri Adventure into the race so I'm looking forward to the camaraderie and banter during the training and for the race itself. This will be by far the biggest challenge our group will have faced to date and we'll be preparing as best we can to get every single one of us over the line. GoTri Adventure was born from a philosophy that people are capable of a lot more than they think if they can just shrug off the shackles and go for it and where better for us to embody that than at The Race!"
Numerous multisport one day adventure races, marathons, ultramarathons, The Race 2014.
I want to challenge myself to complete one of the most difficult endurance challenges. I’m very fortunate to train with several previous participants as part of GoTri Adventure, and I’m looking forward to training for, and competing in the event.
I was in Donegal for the 2015 race supporting a friend, and I was very impressed with how well organised and supported it was, but being there opened my eyes to how tough it will be to complete the course in the time allowed. I was inspired by the abilities of the competitors, and made up my mind to enter then and there.
I have completed a couple of half marathons, duathlons, a range of adventure races (Gaelforce, Achill ROAR, Killarney Adventure Race, Sea2Summit, Dingle Adventure Race), the Wicklow Glacier Lakes and Ballyhoura Mountain Marathons, and the Art O'Neill Challenge. On the bike, I have done many long events of 100k plus. I enjoy the longer events, but I have never done anything like “The Race”.
I've been based in limerick for almost 2 years, working with Northern Trust. I decided to do the Gaelforce Adventure Race in 2013 for the craic, I wanted to see what all the hype was about adventure racing. Although I really suffered for a lot of that race (cramping from the descent of Croagh Patrick to the finish), I also enjoyed the atmosphere and format and began looking around for similar events to compete in.
I like challenging myself and 'The Race' will be my biggest challenge to date. I'm looking forward to the event as it will be an entirely new (hopefully generally positive) experience.It will really help that I'm training with the GoTri Adventure Team and there will be a group of us taking part who will be training hard and racing together in the lead up to the Race.
Gaelforce West 2013, 2014, Killarney Adventure Race 2014, Killarney Adventure Race- Paddys Weekend 2014, 2015, WAR- Sugarloaf, Various Half Marathons, Duathlons, Mountain Runs
I played team sport most of my life and when I injured my knee 4 years ago my friend introduced me to cycling . I ran my first marathon in limerick last year but it's when I got involved with a group call Gotri Adventure I started to do multisport endurance races . I'm entering "The Race" to test my mental and physical capabilities and improve myself as an athlete.
Limerick and Dublin marathon, Art O Neill ultra marathon ,Wicklow Glacier Lakes, a few duathlon and triathlons, Gaelforce West ×2 Dingle, Achill and Killarney adventure races and a few bike road races this year.
A competitor in the race 2015. Stopped with an injury at the second last stage. Need to complete it in 2016 for myself.
Marathon x4, Ultra x1, The race 2015, Gaelforce west 2015, Killarney Adventure Race 2015, Wicklow Adventure Race 2015, Waterford Adventure Race 2015.
I always had a general interest in keeping fit but nothing too serious. In 2014 I decided to start pushing myself more, I wanted to expand beyond the 5km and 10km runs, and when I completed my first adventure race I was hooked on these events. I train with Go-Tri in Clare and the support to push and train beyond your comfort zone and to train with similar minded athletes is terrific.
I was hesitant on taking on this adventure but looking how I have developed from 10k runs to challenges I have now completed which I previously taught impossible and with the encouragement of my club mates and the want to challenge myself to a new level has brought me to here my biggest challenge to date. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
I'm a full time electrician, married with one son and I love a challenge! I have been doing adventure challenges for a few years now and really enjoy the camraderie. I recently joined the GoTri Adventure Group. I think 'The Race' is one that will live long in the memory.
Coast to Coast Ireland, Gealforce x 4, Dingle AR x 3, Killarney AR x3, Keeper Challenge x 4, Waterford AR, Moxie AR, Joey Hannon memorial Triathlon, GLR half marahon x 3 and loads of solo trail and hill running (Slieve Feilim Way, North Kerry Way, Dingle Way, Ballyhoura)
Brendan Cross -Bio to come
(bio's will be updated as they are released online at - www.therace.ie)
Cost of taking part
The Race is a not for profit event. All proceeds from The Race will go to charity. Upon acceptance for The Race you will be sent a Sponsorship Pack from Gorta - Self Help Africa. The pack is will include useful information to help you raise the sponsorship fee necessary for registration.
Entry fee - €600
Besides the cost of energy, mental toughness and hours of preparation time, the to complete the race athlete must raise 600e for charity and with this in mind our club are going to organise a 12hr endurance session taking place in the GoTri club house ( date to be confirmed )
This will be a great way to support the team of avid adventure racers in our club and to get some fantastic training in for yourself. To become part of this life changing event for these guys, will help to spur them on during the dark hours of racing against not only the competitors but also themselves !!!
We look forward to keeping you updated !!
Check back soon
An athletes view of The RACE
The Race 2015 – Race report by Kate Kelly
Bear with me. This may take some time.
I warn anyone considering this race, that from the comfort of your sofa, reading a website, nothing seems that hard. So you hit submit nonchalantly, and think how much fun it’s going to be. If you are considering this race, before hitting the button, walk away. Get counselling. Think twice... no, three, maybe four times, before you enter. It is quite possibly the worst trauma I have ever been through, and I've been married and raised kids.
The run up to the race was an incredibly stressful week. Family and work issues piled on so much pressure that right up until Thursday I didn't know if I was doing it. And I was getting over flu. It all felt very rushed and panic stricken. Definitely not ideal. But on Friday at 5.30 am I was heading out the door with my support crew of best mates and a boot full of boxes and bike. Road Trip! We had fun, coffee stops and chat, and made a pleasant morning of the trip, which stripped away some of the stress I had been under. Arrived at Rathmullen pier at midday, where I sat in the car and said my first 'fook'. The car was rocking from wind. Sand was whipping across the car park, and the sea was wild. Oh bloody dear. I didn't even want to get out of the car. But we were here, so nothing for it but keep going. Stowed the bike, met Dave the organiser and the fab Markus from South Africa (who came 4th) and began to feel happier. Over to Gartan for the box drop, more happy marshal faces to greet us, and you know what, it was like being part of a family. A warped family of strange overachievers, but friendly and welcoming.
Race briefing later in the day made it clear that we were in for a tough day on Saturday. Lots of talk of the weather, and the question mark over kayaking. I came out feeling a little scared, all times and plans scuppered, just wondering if I would survive this event.
Race morning started for me at 3.15 am with my alarm going off. Into my first set of kit of the day and off to have breakfast in Gartan. More chatting to wide eyed but calm co-racers, and finally the bittersweet news that there would be no kayak today. Some were happy, others not so much. I had mixed feelings. I would not have coped well in rough sea, but the longer run was daunting. The last few minutes were crackling with tension but it felt like we were all starting a battle together, such an atmosphere. Then 3...2...1... and we were running up the hill, head-torches and hi-viz spread out like Christmas lights. It was a happy crew heading out, lots of chat and laughter.
I knew within a few miles that I was in for a long day. The less than ideal lead up to the race meant I was far from my usual self. I was finding the run hard, even when running easy, by feel (no gps today). I couldn't get into my happy zone, confidence was not high. But Just Keep Going. My motto for the day. Took some food from my kayak box at 20k and ran the extra 13k with company, chatting in the rain. The wind on this section was mild, but that was only because the area was sheltered. Oh, the wind was there alright as we would find out. Did the run in 3 hours something. Times were pretty irrelevant to me, it was all about total elapsed time, that was all I was watching.
Into the container for a superman-like kit change among a bunch of sweaty men. Dignity out the window, no-one is watching anyway. Even managed to down a cup of coffee here, and eat some more. Then out onto the 100k bike which we had been warned would be very, very tough. They weren't kidding. The first few kms were rolling and easy, but on the first short sharp hill I came to, both calves seized. Fook. It was far too early for this malarkey. I walked the next hill because the calves just wouldn't behave. The shame. Image But slowly the cramping eased, and hills were manageable. My only issue was that I was burning through far too much energy battling the headwind, and I couldn't get enough food into me. I would say I started to bonk about 70k into this. I can’t really describe how horrible it was, but at some points I had to lean the bike over to counteract crosswinds. The rain was sideways. When you had the headwind, it often stopped you dead. Thankfully, I stayed calm and just controlled the controllables. Ate as much as I could keep down, and kept moving forward by any means. I got progressively weaker, but the clock showed I had a comfortable window of time to make the cut-off. Though even when I could see the Muckish transition, I ended up standing in the stinging rain trying to eat so I could make it up the last hill. Just Keep Going.
I was so glad to get into that container at Muckish. It was cold and dark and crowded, but I sat and ate, got some dry kit on, and headed out into the climb. Muckish by name, mucky by nature. Between slippy mud and powerful wind, I ended up on my backside a lot of the time. When I reached the top, I sat down with the Yoda-like marshal and asked him who the hell he pissed off to get this job. A small snack here before heading down, and god, I was having fun for the first time all day. Slipping, falling, laughing. It was a respite and gave me a bit of recovery. I had been told the second bike should be easier. I hoped to god it was.
Make no mistake, I had got this far, but I was slowly falling to pieces. I did not think I would finish the race at this point. The second bike began with a descent and a tailwind, but that itself proved dangerous, pushing me across the road at speed. Another string of 'fooks' as I tried to keep control. This whole stage was difficult, with unceasing wind and many, many more hills. I was at my lowest point all day once it got dark, burnt out, walking uphill, unable to push at all. But behind it all the brain stayed rational and in control, moving on, knowing I have been worse at other times. I didn't break down and I didn't have to quit just yet. The light on my bike was crappy, and on the worst narrow mountain road I could hardly see at all. Some other competitors caught me up and, realising I was half blind, stayed with me on this section till we got back to lights and civilisation. Motorists helped too, flashing lights, honking, supporting. One guy pulled alongside as I struggled, peeled a banana, and handed it out to me. Image I don't know who he was, but I will love him forever. I overshot the last turn-off, only seeing the arrow as I passed it. I am so glad I did spot it, or I would have spent the night in Killybegs! I was walking every hill at this point, I had no energy. I didn’t think I would go out on the marathon, I was too exhausted, but I wanted the option, I wanted to make it to transition. I was offered lifts, but turned them down. I had been watching the km markers, but when I came to the transition I still had no idea I was finished, and sailed past the marshals as they yelled and beckoned me. They told me I was finished the bike and I didn't believe them. I was on autopilot, completely frozen, running on empty, I don't think I did anything but grunt and let them take the bike. It was 9.30 in the evening, and I had nothing left, with a marathon ahead.
I spent an hour in that transition room, with my friends doing everything they could for me, and Maghnus quietly keeping an eye on how I was doing. I got dry and warm, ate chips with sugary tea, and slowly realised I was going to go back out to try and at least walk the marathon. But before they would let me out they had to check my state, so I was led to the ambulance for an MOT. I think they were surprised at how OK I was, the raised eyebrows said it all. So with a fresh and bright headtorch, 5 layers of clothing, and a bottle of water, I set off into the pitch dark Glenveagh national park.
When I set out for my long walk, it was raining steadily, but with the wind to my back it was a lot easier than being on the bike. I tried once or twice to trot a little, but it felt like something alien that I had never done before. My feet were raw and all the clothes and rucksack were heavy and restricting.
The first 14k was monotonous tarmac road, passing roaring waterfalls every few minutes but with other no sense of passing distance or time. The rain never stopped, and it made interesting sparkles in the light of the headtorch that were almost hypnotic after a while. It was so slow. I could only run short bursts of 30 secs or so but I kept trying to do it, for warmth more than anything. I did get progressively colder though, utilising my foil blanket as a windbreak at one stage. It was one slow foot in front of the other, Just Keep Going. At the turn for the trail section, I was really chilled and finding it hard. A marshal gave me a spare coat, I allowed that with him being an official it wouldn't get me DQd! The trail was sore underfoot, but a welcome downhill rest. It was quiet and eerie, and strangely beautiful among the trees. I could see one or two torches way behind me so knew I wasn't completely alone out there. More waterfalls and waterlogged trails but the rain eased for a while here, thankfully. I kept an eye on my watch, doing rapid mental calculations of whether I would get in before the cutoff or not. It was soul destroying to not be able to run. The run stage is my thing, my best bit, and here I was, broken. But I had the words of a certain other boards hoochie in my ears: We don't quit. I knew if I gave up I would regret it forever.
I got to the castle at the end of the trail, and at that point caught up with a guy I sat beside in transition. We walked and chatted for a bit, and I asked if he was ok with company or preferred his own, he said he preferred company, so we became a team. Image The tarmac turned to trail again, stretching up along the dark outline of a mountain that made our hearts sink. The next two hours was probably the darkest and hardest I have ever spent. It rained so hard it was painful on your face. We were tired and cold and just wanted a warm duvet and some tea. The 5k markers took hours to come around each time. I coaxed, cajoled, bullied and even threatened to sing to my companion just to keep him going. Mostly he didn't even answer, but he was French so I didn't understand much he did say anyway. At one point, my backpack started to play a jingle... my phone alarm was pinging a 3.15 alarm call, just as it had done 24 hours earlier, and here I was, still 20k from home. I was so disappointed to have missed my own personal targets so badly, and to be so unsure I would make the cutoff. The trail twisted and turned but we could only see about 3m ahead so it was like a mystery, no clue what was coming next.
Eventually we came off the trail, thinking we were almost there, but there was still a long long way to go. At least on tarmac this time. My companion had developed chronic hiccups that worried me, somewhere in my mind I recalled hiccups being a sign of heart strain. I kept checking he was ok, he must have been sick of me asking. But I still made him run, a minute at a time, at regular intervals. Feck it. If he dropped, I knew CPR. He wasn't missing the cutoff after working this hard, not if I could help it. A few others jogged past us, and the gardai stopped for a chat at one point (they lied about how far more we had, we cursed them for that).
Eventually his pals came past in a car and told us 4k to go. We nearly cried. We had done it. We were within time. Yeehaw. It was a long 4k all the same, before we got to a marshal who told us to take the final turn back down to the centre. Tears were close all the way down that hill. Just before the final bend in the road, me and Sebastien, Team Awesome, had a final hug and we took off running. We had to make the finish look good. Hands held aloft as we crossed the line, I felt so proud, and glad and relieved, and wanted to bawl my eyes out. More hugs as we got our medals, and we parted company. They called out my time; I didn't care. I just wanted to sit down.
This was a race I was too exhausted to enjoy being finished. It broke me into little pieces that I am still trying to put back together. I get tremors of fear when I think about being out on that marathon again. I am in total awe of those who finished ahead of me, those people are stronger than I can imagine. Am I glad I did it? Hell yes. Will I do it again? HELL NO. I have one medal. I don't want another. I'll stick to safe, easy clean IM.
Some final observations. Donegal is stunning. Breathtakingly beautiful. You must go there (in a car if possible, not a bike). The experience of cycling around it in this race, though incredibly tough, was also an incredible privilege. I am glad I got to race with such amazing people. I loved meeting Eddie Brennan and his wonderful missus (cheerleader supreme). The other female competitors were beyond tough and amazing, and so unfailingly pleasant and fun to be around. My friends were such a support, I could not have done it without them, getting me there, and back, and staying up all night to wait for my finish. Donegal made me laugh with their thing of not so much parking your car, as abandoning it randomly in the road, and
I also laughed at the spooky glowing eyes of sheep as they stared at us from pitch dark fields as if we were mental. Which I suppose we were. I have so many memories that I will carry from this. Once the pain fades. Image
So as I said many words ago, if you want to do this, think carefully. Do not underestimate. Dave and Maghnus will test you to your limits, and then push you past them. I hate them and love them for that.