Over the next few months we’ll be profiling lots of different people who do our events, looking at their personal stories of motivation and inspiration.  The following story is a great one from Laraine Creed on how her first venture into the world of adventure racing proved quite fruitful.

On booking Quest Kenmare last year, I fully launched myself into the 12-week beginner training plan which, admittedly, seemed daunting in week one. I had never committed to a training plan before so this was new territory for me. I was so glad the plans were available as it kept me focused on what needed to be done. The training was enjoyable and manageable for a beginner like me. The weeks flew by as I relished in the satisfaction of ticking each workout off the plan.

The night before the race I was giddy with excitement opening the race pack – race number, dibber, Quest Kenmare-branded top – it all suddenly became real. Then the fear crept in. I had broadcast to my friends and family that I was taking part in this adventure race…what if I couldn’t finish? Was I mad thinking I could do this? I decided to trust the preparation I had done. I ate an extra load of carbs to be sure – I certainly wasn’t complaining about all the food I had to eat.

On the morning of the event, the weather wasn’t ideal. Far from ideal really. My lasting memory of the starting line was clenching my fists to try and get the water out of my gloves before I started. Saturated would be an understatement. Once the race began, the weather was the last thing on my mind. Adrenaline kicked in. My competitive streak also reared its head. I knew the bike would be my better stage, running was never my strong point, so I tried to start as strong as I could on the bike. The scenery was absolutely stunning- waterfalls, mountains, never ending landscapes- certainly enough to keep my mind off my burning legs. Before I knew it, the stewards pointed me towards the bike rack transition point. They were so encouraging and positive which gave me the boost I needed to start my run. What a difference it makes to hear, “You’re nearly there, well done!”. 4 more stages to go, more running, more cycling and kayaking. Before I set off on the bike again, I grabbed a quick snack out of my bag. Here’s a tip – don’t try and cycle with 4 Jaffa cakes stuffed into your mouth! As if I wasn’t thirsty enough, my mouth was now as dry as Gandhi’s flip flop. Rookie mistake. Thankfully someone didn’t grab a photo of me trying to prise my tongue from the roof of my mouth. Although, admittedly, it would be funny to see now. 

The kayak stage was the part I had been looking forward to the most. I had been out on kayaks before but never as part of a race. ‘How hard can it be to go in a straight line, turn around and come back?’, I thought. It was a huge help that my new-found kayak partner, who I had met thirty seconds prior to getting into the kayak, was well able to steer. We didn’t head straight for a rusty old boat or anything, I swear.

Onto the last leg, the homeward run. I could hear the music in the square in the distance and that spurred me on to keep going. I was soaking from the kayak, fatigued and wondered why I signed up for this in the first place. Once I entered the square and saw the finish line, I heard the DJ calling my name and congratulating me. Then, right there, that was the reason I had signed up. It sounds ridiculous to say it felt euphoric, but having spent weeks preparing and having gotten through the tough parts, it really was incredible to cross that line. I was approached then to inform me that I was the third female home. I laughed and presumed they had the wrong person, but no, unbelievably, I had far exceeded all of my expectations of myself.

I caught the bug. Straight away I went and signed up for the next Quest adventure race I was able to attend, Quest Killarney. Having heard that this one was tough, I was apprehensive but excited. I had continued to train and to try to push myself, I decided to enter the Sport category. I followed the plan once again, enjoyed every minute of the training.

As this was my second Quest race, I felt more at ease with the registration and preparation for the event. As always, the staff were excellent and everything ran smoothly. Killarney is one of my favourite places in the world and getting the opportunity to race up the Gap Of Dunloe, run up Torc and kayak on the lake was unreal. The race itself was tough. There were times when I questioned my sanity for putting myself through it and wondered if I’d ever reach the summit of the trail run. ‘You’re nearly at the top’, they said, so I kept moving, and on my way down I passed on that nugget of hope to fellow ‘strugglers’. The stewards were all so positive and encouraging, as if you were the only person to pass by them.

Crossing the finish line was again, in my mind, a huge personal achievement. Having never envisioned myself being able to complete those distances, I was so relieved and delighted to have made it. It really is impossible to explain the feeling to people who haven’t done it – so if you fancy the idea of challenging yourself in ways you never thought you could, give this a go- you won’t regret it!

Quest Kenmare 2019 is now sold-out and takes place on 2nd March. Quest Glendalough follows on 6th April with spaces going fast.