It’s Q minus 4 days.
All roads truly lead to the Kingdom of Kerry this weekend. And in particular Killarney.
At this stage you’re probably dissecting the race, stage by stage, hill by hill, from energy gels to water intake, every possible variable right up to the after party. Should I be carb loading. How much water should i be drinking. Should I squeeze in another sneaky training session, when should I go out, how long should I go out for and what level of intensity I should go at, do i have all my kit ready. when should I register…
All these thoughts and more, are the usual ones that go through my head the week leading up to a race as I begin to focus and get into the zone. It’s all part and parcel of doing one of these races. No matter how many I have done, I have always said, when you sign up for an adventure race, the initial cost is not just an entry fee, it covers much more than that. You start to get every cent back from the moment you put on your trainers or dust off that cobweb ridden bike that has laid dormant in the corner of your shed. It starts the months and weeks prior to the race.
For me the race is a reward. A reward for the hard work I hopefully have put into getting me to the starting line.
So Quest Killarney is but a couple of days away. Last October I competed in the 57km route. Longer than my usual Sport Route but come reaching the finish line, it was, absolutely, the right route to choose. After a not so successful outing in my previous race 2 months prior (I went in unfit after a 6 week chest infection) I set myself a massive goal and put myself through a training regime that would rival any army fitness boot camp.
The Race Breakdown
The 57km course roughly broke down as follows;
40k cycle, 1k kayak, 9k Hill run, 6k cycle. This year’s course is pretty much the same. The initial cycle starts after a short shuttle bus run from the Glen Eagles hotel to where the bikes are kept. It’s a cracking bike ride. Lots of challenging corkscrew hills to climb and the uncompromising dark valley descent. Word of caution coming down there. It takes no prisoners. Don’t try and be a hero. I topped speeds of 70km/hr and had a few extremely close calls, nearly was the undoing of me. Other fellow racers were not so lucky.
Another word of advice is for the last km or two change your cycling pattern. You will be in the saddle for about 1hr 45mins to 2hrs and to avoid that feeling after transition that your legs are now weighing heavier than 2 tree trunks, get out of the saddle, change your gears to high/quick rotation and pump that blood back into those running muscles. I didn’t do this and paid the price.
There is a short 0.5k jog down to the kayaks. Use this opportunity to take fuel on board and stretch out those legs. Getting any lactic acid build up out. You will be in the kayak for anywhete between 12 to 15 mins depending on your technique and fitness level, and you do not want to seize up.
When you reach the running section after the kayak, for me this was the hardest part. My legs had seized up. The steps going up Torc waterfall were grueling to say the least because I hadn’t prepped myself as mentioned above come the latter end of the cycle. It took me till 3/4 way up Torc to finally shake out the stiffness. Another note of caution is that, if it is at all wet, the steps are like an ice rink. Very greasy, so display caution on your way down.
But once I got fully mobile again, I was off. I flew down and couldn’t wait to make up for lost time. I got back to my bike and ate the last 6km up, overtaking everything in sight. I was pushing 30+km average all the way back to the drop zone and sprinted over the line to finish in a grand old time of 3hrs 42mins… exhausted but definitely exhilarated.
What a cracking race. I had learned invaluable lessons which I have carried to this day. Unfortunately I couldn’t hang around too long that day to soak up the post match atmosphere as I had to make my way to Killorglin as i was staying in my cousins house and more importantly had an ill-timed All-Ireland replay to watch.
But what I will say about this particular event is that of all the events I have done, from a scenery point of view, it will blow you away. Unbelievable. You will have to go a long way to top these views. So if you get a chance, slow down, lift your head up and take it all in.
If you know of anyone partaking in the 57km route (or any other route for that matter), share this with them, it will hopefully be of use.
I hope, if you are taking part, that you have a cracking day and be sure to share your experience and any photos you may have on our Facebook page. We would love you to hear from you.
For a full list of the differenty Quest Killarney routes and race details, Click here.
Best of luck