This week our guest blog comes from Noel Dunne. Noel shares with us his Quest journey over the past six months, recently having tackled the unwieldy Quest Kenmare. Thanks to Noel and best of luck with the ongoing training.

My journey started late last year before I even knew what the Quest Adventure Series was.

It was when I knew I needed to lose some weight, I was 100kg and very unfit. I could only run a few meters and would be out of breath. I was also not feeling great about myself and would find myself feeling anxious for no reason.

I always liked cycling and had always done a bit, so I said I would start again to try and lose weight. I got my bike serviced and new tyres put on. It was around then I heard about Ultimate Conditioning in Trim who were offering various classes. I signed up and after the first class I was sore but I enjoyed it and found Bernard and the team very helpful and encouraging. It was also good to way to meet new people. I set myself a goal to lose 20kg before the end of the year.

As well as training they also gave me advice on nutrition and diet and over the next 6 weeks, I stuck to it. I started feeling better about myself and found I wanted to get out and run or cycle even on days I had not planned to. I wanted to train harder and go faster. As well as losing weight I set myself a goal of getting my average pace to 5min/km and getting an average speed of 25kph on a 50km cycling.

Aside from a few slips in the diet and minor injuries along the way I was doing well. I was running 7km at least 4 times a week and cycling 50k at least twice a week as well as working out 3 times a week and before the winter I got the 25kph average speed on my 50km cycle.

Just before Christmas I was talked into doing a duathlon to raise money for local charity. When I was told what was involved (5km run, 10km cycle, 2km run) I did not think I would be able to do it but I had hit my target of 20kg weight loss that day and felt excited so signed up in the moment.

Noel Dunne, far left, training with the Ultimate Conditioning team

The morning of the duathlon the weather was bad very wet and windy I was thinking of not doing it but I still did it and enjoyed it. I finished it in 1hour and 4 minutes, 25 minutes faster than the goal I set myself. I was happy I did it quicker than I expected but also disappointed because I knew I could have pushed myself even more.

Afterwards I was talking to few people who told me I should give the adventure racing a go but I was still not sure. In training the days after the event I felt stronger, went further and faster. I decided an adventure race was next and Quest Kenmare would be it. It was amazing how far I’d come, within the space of a few months I never would have even thought about doing an adventure race and here I was preparing for my first.

With great encouragement from the team at the gym training got well underway in the new year. On route to Kenmare for the event the countryside and mountains were just beautiful but the weather was getting worse. I didn’t get much sleep that night as the nerves were setting in.

I got up the morning of the race and looked outside, the weather was not great at all but I was not going to let that stop me at this stage. There was a smooth, rolling start but sadly I must have hit the first pot hole of the stage and got an instant flat wheel about 100 metres in. I got wheel off and thankfully I had packed a spare tube and did not have to try fix a puncture in the pouring rain.  So many people offered to help me so thanks to all of them!

I got moving again and every time I saw someone, I just thought just try get by them and on to the next one. When I got to the first transition my legs were hurting a bit from pushing them a bit too hard. Despite a stitch I managed it, the second lap was a lot better than the first, I got a second wind.

The cycle went fine and as the kayak was cancelled due to the bad weather, I racked my bike for the last run to the finish. It seemed a lot longer than it was but it really helped getting the encouragement from the spectators and marshals along the way.

I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I got my medal and I felt really happy with myself for doing it and finishing. I did it in 1 hour 28 minutes, which is great because I wanted to do it in around 1 hour 30. I did feel a bit disappointed because I would have liked to see how I would have done without the puncture but that is all part of adventure racing. Talk about stating adventure racing off with a bang!

One thing I know for sure is I will definitely be back next year even if you told me the weather was going to be the same. I have also signed up for Quest Glendalough’s Sport route and I am really looking forward to it.

I would just like to say a huge thank you to all the marshals and volunteers for the help and encouragement along the way making it a great day and to Bernard Smyth and Team UC for all the help with training and making it so enjoyable. I never would have thought I was able to do it, but did with their encouragement. Roll on Glendalough!

Quest Glendalough takes place on Saturday 6th of April and is completely sold-out. Next up is Quest Wales on Saturday 8th June which is open for registration now.