Laura O’Driscoll is a Dundalk native, who has recently moved back home from Canada. A consummate athlete, she often features on the podium at Quest events.
I’ve been doing triathlons for a while, starting back in 2006. Inspired by some of the local legends from around here, the McCabe brothers. I competed in my first adventure race in 2007. Having focused on triathlon for a few years. I qualified for the 70.3 Ironman World Championships in 2012. Training was going to plan and then a car accident stopped me in my tracks. With a torn meniscus in my knee I let ego take over, competed injured and realised after that I needed a bit of a reality check. With the help of yoga and strength and conditioning, I slowly got back, but started to take it more off road, finding the lesser impact easier on the knee and the mountains easier on the head.
A few years spent in Australia and more recently in Canada, trail running became my first go to, having had come from a predominantly running backrgound, but I was always game for long hilly adventures on the bike with friends. When I was home on holidays, I’d always try to fish out an adventure race, Quest Achill being one of these last year.
I recently moved back home and am loving the adventure racing scene. It’s great to see so many people getting fit and taking part in these challenging, fun events. I love to compete and there’s plenty of opportunities to do so here, on and off the road. I find adventure racing very inclusive and a lot less about the gear – don’t get me wrong I still love my bike and my Garmin, but there’s nothing like just hitting the trails and being surrounded by the mountains.
Growing up we would hike and bike a lot with my Dad. I think that cemented my love of the outdoors. My training really depends on what event is coming up, although it’s been pretty unstructured this year. Really I’m just enjoying being back, embracing what our wee country has to offer and catching up with friends. I train twice a day most days, I teach yoga and swim as part of my conditioning. Otherwise I’m out running the trails or on the bike. It’s great to get out and train with others. If you’re starting out , you don’t have to kill yourself. Put in the miles for sure, but enjoy it. Power hiking can be as beneficial as running, and helps with the hills. It’s always good to mix it up.
Adventure racing in Ireland is great to be involved in at the moment. There’s fantastic camaraderie and we have the perfect setting for it – good mountain roads for biking, runnable mountain trails, beautiful lakes, and the sea is pretty accessible from most spots, not to mention the breath taking scenery. Having competed in other countries, some of my favourite courses are still here in Ireland.
Quest events are great for the social side too, the post-race atmosphere is brilliant. You get to chat to people in the hot tubs or in the massage queue. Some other events it’s straight into the car and home. The after parties are great craic also, where you get to exagerrate on the highs and lows of the day.
Best piece of advice I can offer…check whether it’s a single kayak before two of ye jump in it …(true story!) 😉
Learn more about adventure racing and Quest here.