A couple of years ago, I was going through a rough time in my life. I was stuck in a place where I didn’t really want to be and I couldn’t use my usual outlet for frustration – sports. I had been doing karate competitively, even on an international level, competing for Switzerland, but then I joined the local police-force and training regularly wasn’t an option. Worse, my knee had just been operated on for the third time. The doctor told me that he wasn’t sure if I’d be able to play sports ever again. I took up running, going from 5ks to 10ks and doing some small trail-/mountain-races as that was the only thing my knees seemed to be okay with. Yet, something was missing, even though karate had not been a team-player sports, there had been funny and caring people around and I missed that at the races in Switzerland.
I signed myself up for the longest route on Quest Killarney in the middle of a night shift one night when I was bored. To this day, no idea why I did that. I had been looking at the race for some time always thinking that it wasn’t for me since I hadn’t been on a bike for nearly two decades and I was known for my ‘anti-bike’-stance. Yet after a good night’s (well, day’s) sleep, I realized I really wanted to go through with it. It gave me something to set my sights on again, something to train for, a new goal and a chance to change my life a bit and also stick it up to the people who thought I would never do something like that. So, I intensified my running, bought an old bike resolved to train for it. I have to confess though, I only had been on that bike a handful of times before the race. I thought kayaking would go fine, having had some experience with canoes, so I decided to wing that.
Race-day came closer and I packed my bags, traveled all alone from Switzerland to Killarney, and found myself being very nervous in the morning of the race. I didn’t need to be nervous, the race went fairly well considering my cycling-skills (didn’t fall off, just stumbled on the way down from Mangerton while running downhill). I wasn’t the fastest, yet not the slowest either as I am a fairly good runner and the kayak-section was just a blast. The best thing about the whole day: I ended up with a medal that had the date of my 30th birthday engraved on it. Other people would get drunk and party real hard on their 30th birthday – me I was having the best day of my life out in in Killarney!
That race had started something; I ended up returning every year to Ireland and the Quest races since that day. As my times and my abilities on the bike improved so did my life and I think that was also down to the experiences I had during these races. I even bought a road bike with cleats and was brave (or stupid) enough to sign up for The Race 2018 in Donegal. Like the Killarney Quest, I really questioned myself the next morning and was close to backing out. I was glad I didn’t it was one of my best race-days.
Adventure races aren’t known here in Switzerland, triathlons and Ironmans are more common and ever since I started doing Quest, people have been trying to get me into those things. Yet I don’t think it’s the same, the races give me the atmosphere I crave; the camaraderie, friendliness and support. It begins with the registration and getting the bibs – everything is uncomplicated! Then on the actual race, I was kind of shocked when other competitors ran/cycled up to me, asked me how it was going or generally having a nice conversation; or that the runners already running down the hill cheered me on while I just plodded upwards. I have had the best and craziest conversations out on the course. One year I had a serious fall on the bike in Killarney. Right away about two people stopped and wanted to help me. Medics soon arrived and advised me not to finish, but I can be really stubborn. I did finish and I even managed to make up for some lost time at the running section. Now, imagine my surprise when at Quest 12 a guy came up to me and asked if I was the girl that fell that day, nearly a year before – he had seen me later on all bloodied. He actually remembered me! Yeah, not normal for races in my opinion! And don’t get me started on the finish line…. my boyfriend came with me on the last Killarney race and he liked it too, the conversation, the hot tubs, the food and yes, the beer!.
For 2019 I’ve made some more stupid decisions that I hope turn out good. I signed up again for two Quests (Glendalough and Killarney), The Race 2019 in Donegal and because I enjoyed Quest 12 so much, I signed up for the Quest 24 not really realising that I have to cycle even more. Me and cycling, we still have a love/hate relationship.
I plan to build on the basic training concept that I had last year with The Race. I don’t want a training-plan because every time I try to plan, work, and sometimes life, gets in my way and I end up feeling guilty. So, I plan kilometres. By the end of a week I have to have completed so many kilometres on bike and on foot. The warmer it gets the more cycling I do as I hate running in the heat but love snow-running. I aim to do 30-40k of running and building up from 20-30k cycling to hopefully 40-90k and more come Quest 24. The cycling that’s what really, really scares me but I guess I just have to saddle up and as long as I take it hill by hill, step by step and breath by breath I’ll be fine. Kayaking…well winging it has worked so far!
But all in all – the thing is to have fun. As soon as I don’t enjoy training I’ll stop or change. Because enjoying yourself, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? It’s not about racing, about the fastest time or anything, it’s about having fun, about this feeling of being blessed just to be out there and on the move. That’s what adventure racing is for me.