I did my first adventure race in 2009 at the age of 41. I had been doing triathlons for 5 years and my background in sport before that was horses. Running was not something I enjoyed but I loved swimming and have ridden a bike forever. Triathlon was getting a bit too serious for me and I liked the comradery of the adventure races.
I am still doing adventure races and last year I did Quest 12. A training buddy, Bernie, wanted to do a long-distance event and had thought of Ironman, but her swimming was not up to scratch and it does take a large chunk out of your day to train. I told her about the 12-hour race and she thought ‘Why not?’ We live in the middle of the hills of Wicklow, so we have the perfect training tools on our doorstep. It also makes the training more enjoyable and you are more likely to stay committed if you have a training buddy.
We didn’t have a set program we would just increase the hills and miles on the bike as time went on and do one long trail run a week and hiked up and down a few mountains. We had hoped to get a day on the lake to kayak but that didn’t happen. That is the one thing that is very forgiving in adventure racing you don’t have to be an expert in any one discipline.
We traveled down to Sneem on the Friday to register that evening. There was a great buzz about the place and everyone was all chat and anticipation. It was an early night as the 24hr lot were off at 6am and we were to go at 6.30am. We couldn’t have asked for a better day weather-wise, sun rising to clear skies and light breeze.
We took it handy for our first 48km cycle a couple of hills to warm us up and the day was perfect for clear views of Carrauntoohil. I was a bit stronger on the ascent so I went ahead of Bernie as I knew she would pass me on the descent which she did. I unfortunately took a tumble on the way back that slowed me a bit more but just before the steep climb of the second bike section I caught up with Bernie. It was a tough hill and the legs were feeling it at this stage. We both walked the hill and were happy with the recovery of going down on the other side. For me this was the toughest part of the day, Carrauntoohil had taken a lot out of me and the last 20km into Waterville was a struggle, but we pulled each other along.
When we got to transition we got plenty of food into us and headed to the lake for the Kayak. We had originally planned to take a boat together but we were told to take one each so our results would not have penalties for doubling up. I know Bernie was a bit concerned but I knew she had the strength to do the two laps. I had done a race earlier in the year with 25km of kayak so I would be a bit stronger, but not by much. The kayak also gave the legs a rest for the next 14km cycle. It was a gentle drag out of Waterville and I went ahead of Bernie and arrived just a few minutes ahead of her at Caherdaniel.
We got ourselves organized for the last leg of our race. The 18km along the Kerry way back to Sneem. At this stage we knew we wouldn’t make it under the 12 hours but we knew we would finish. We hiked the ups and jogged the downs and most of the flat. We had never been on The Kerry Way before and the scenery was spectacular. There were a few little climbs and the body was giving out, but the finish line was getting ever nearer. It was also great to do this race with company as we pulled each other along. As we got into Sneem we could hear the cheers of finishers ahead of us crossing the line. We emerged through the woods to see the finish line and supporters cheering. We crossed the line at 12 hrs 45 mins, very happy and pleased with ourselves. The medals placed round our necks were well deserved.
It was a fantastic day out and what a way to see that part of Kerry. We made friends along the way, encouraging each other. It was great to do this race with a friend as it doesn’t make it feel so daunting. As women, we often underestimate our capabilities and often play ourselves down. We need to have more faith in our ability.
The race organisers Quest delivered an amazing race. Well marked, super friendly and helpful marshals, lots of goodies at transitions and a fantastic post-race breakfast the next morning. This was a great opportunity to relive moments from that great day with fellow competitors.
Quest 12/24 2019 takes place on Saturday 31st August 2019.