Turn the clock back to July 2017 when something just hit home with me. That was registering 18 stone and 5 pounds. I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. That weight was literally pulling me down, emotionally, mentally and physically. A simple thing like wanting or needing to buy clothes became an ordeal and frustrating due to my size. I couldn’t even run 100m without feeling the need to heave. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was depressing me.

With reluctance, a fair bit of convincing, and a lot of support from my other-half, Yvonne, I joined Slimming World in July 2017 and set myself a target of losing 4 stone 5 pounds within a year. Gradually over this period of time I started to lose weight through food optimisation and getting my backside into gear by running. I remember my first 5km run in October 2017 and having to stop and start approximately 15 different times. But I kept at it, and eventually in November I was able to put together 5k without stopping. For some that may not be a huge event but for me it was a significant milestone considering the level of fitness I was coming from and carrying all that excess weight.

In around December 2017 Yvonne, who supported me throughout my journey, encouraged me to sign up with her for Quest Glendalough. That we did and with my target weight in sight I planned to hit this prior to Quest Glendalough. The big debate was what race distance to enter in, but we proceeded with the Sport 41 km event. I thought I was absolutely mad bearing in mind I could’ve gone for a shorter course event for my first race.

Now the pressure was really on. I had no road bike, no real experience of kayaking and on a good day I could run probably 7km, downhill! Ah sure, why wouldn’t you sign up to an adventure race? It was sort of like entering a formula one race without a F1 car.

So, let us deal with the easy part. I need a bike. Solution, buy a bike. A Giant Defy was what was bought and 2 cycles a week included in my weekly training plan and routine. Now I had to get my general level of fitness to a standard of being able to complete the race. In the intervening months there was seismic events happening more regularly, which was in reality me pounding my local roads and the poor Slieve Bloom mountains! I was increasing the mileage slowly and introducing the type of terrain I was likely to encounter to be able to complete my first adventure race. We paid a few visits to Glendalough in February and March to familiarise ourselves with the route but both times I was left questioning whether to change down to the challenge route. I ‘stubborned’ (yeah, I have just made up that word but that was a reflection of what it was) it out and decided to stick with the Sport route which we had booked.

The week of the race I went to my weigh-in at Slimming World on the Thursday and hit my target weight loss of 4 stone 5 lbs. Part one of my Quest was complete. Mission accomplished. The second part was now to complete Quest Glendalough.

I remember the morning of the race heading to Glendalough feeling somewhat nervous and anxious and hoping for one thing, and that was to simply complete the event and get home safe. That I did, in 3 hours 12 minutes. I was ecstatic. I had completed my first Quest Adventure race. Part two of my Quest complete. Mission totally accomplished.

Little did I know how I would feel the following day.  I was suffering from ‘PRSD’, Post Race Stress Disorder. I needed another adventure race. The calendar come out and in went a series of races including Quest Killarney and Quest Achill. In 2018 I completed 8 adventure races, 1 triathlon, a half-marathon and the great Dublin 105km bike ride in addition to numerous 5 and 10 km races.

My only singular regret for 2018 is not having started my first adventure race at Quest Kenmare so as to put together the quadrant of medals of which I have three parts. That’s why 2019 is going to be different. I’m not going to let that opportunity pass me by. My single, or maybe call it single collective aim, for 2019 is to complete all six Quest events including Quest 12, a 147km adventure race in South Kerry this August.

Quest 2019 events, welcome to my diary!

Ed Thompson