Friday, November 4, 2011

Killarney Adventure Race

I entered the Killarney Adventure Race on Saturday October 8th. This was my second such event and I was really looking forward to it. I was very familiar with the course as the cycle was over some of the route that the Killarney mountaineering club went when they did the Gap Triathlon.  The course was a run up Srickeen Hill (6.5 kilometers and 400mtrs climb) followed by a 35 k cycle with two good hills, then  run followed by 1.5k on the kayak and an 18k run up and down Mangerton mountain with a short sprint on the bike back to the finish in the grounds of Muckross House. A total of about 60 kilometers so it promised to be a tough outing.

I was in the third wave off and this meant that I could enjoy a full Irish at the B&B at 8am and still have two hours before the start. We were bussed from Muckross to the start at Kate Kearneys cottage. Soon we were off. The track up Strikeen was really turning to muck by the time we went up it. I set a steady pace and managed to keep running most of the way to the summit. The weather was a little misty and breezy but not too bad. Conditions underfoot for the descent were treacherous and I resolved to be careful but still despite my best efforts I took a tumble not long after starting down. I managed to give my left knee a good bang and I was sore and  limping for a while. Soon it loosened out again and after a stop to wash off some of the mud and the blood I was moving well as I got back to the transition area and started the bike section.

I passed a fair few on the initial section through the Gap but at the tough climb a Turnpike rock I dismounted for the steepest section. This was half by design and necessity but afterwards I was glad not to have bollixed the legs too much. The decent into the Black Valley from the head of the Gap was treacherous to say the least and I was super careful all the way down to the valley floor. Near the top I passed an accident which had the ambulance in attendance. I later learned that it was feared that the guy was paralyzed. As I said conditions were treacherous. Along the valley floor I pushed a good gear and another guy joined with me and we took turns at the front. When we hit the climb to Molls Gap I found that I couldn't live with him any longer and he gradually pulled away. Still he gave me a target to follow and I overtook many in the effort to keep him in sight. The descent and cycle to the carpark for Torc waterfall was exhilarating and enjoyable. Here I changed back into my running shoes and turned for Muckross lake and the Kayak section.

After the bike it felt a little strange to be running again but it was all part of the experience. About one kilometer later I arrived at the lake where I was given a flotation device and a partner and we walked into the lake with our Kayak. It was comical to watch a crew in front trying to get mobile after sitting into the Kayak too early and being stuck fast to the bottom. We set off at a nice pace and with neither of us being experienced it felt good to be able to steer a straight line and maintain a good rhythm. The course rounded a large rock before heading off at an angle for a bhoy and back to the starting point. Here we said our goodbyes and I set off at a steady jog back in the direction of Torc carpark again.

Now came the best bit of the day, the 18 kilometer climb of Mangerton. The access to the mountain from Torc follows forestry trails for a good distance before you emerge at the tourist route up the mountain. Previous efforts at running up Mangerton have started here and I have found myself able to stay running for perhaps a little more than half the way up. Now however, at this stage of the event the legs were not that strong and I had to walk more than not. Progress was still faster than most others. I was surprised to arrive at the summit check in , not at the top but at the lake about 100 meters below the plateau. This was because the top was swathed in cloud and I guess the organisers feared that people would lose their way. Now I was in my element and I really enjoyed the run back down the mountain. The knees were holding up well and I was able to pass many. At the forestry trail section I managed to maintain a jog for nearly all of it and soon I was descending the steps back to the carpark. A quick change of footwear and the short 4k on the bike back to the finish line soon passed. I parked the bike and trotted the final few meters through the finish line, really tired but very happy that I had given it my all. I entered the tent and collected my times print off. 5 hours and 3 minutes. I was gobsmacked and delighted to discover that I was in 22nd place overall. Roll on next year.
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