Off The Bloom Adventure Race – Sport Course
A last minute opportunity to take part in the Off The Bloom adventure race popped up on Friday evening and I jumped at it, and was I glad I did…it’s a cracking event which is sure to only grow and grow.
I packed up the car Saturday morning and headed off to Kinnitty in Offaly…although as Kerryman I’m still scarred since ’82 when a subtle ‘nudge’ from a certain Offaly man prevent Sam from heading to the Kingdom for the 5th year in a row….but we won’t dwell on that….its long forgotten, and we don’t care about it anymore…honestly ?. It was a cracking event, weather was perfect, a little windy but ok. The Sport course flowed really well, the organizers are obviously experienced racers and know what works and this was very evident in the structure and the transition points, the route was explained in great detail at the safety briefing, was very well marked out and the marshals are the junctions were excellent both in directing you and shouting much needed encouragement!
Registration set up was very straightforward, picked up number 13 ? and a decent few bits and pieces in the goody bag, plenty of parking at the GAA grounds, bike racks were good at all the transitions and dibbers fairly straightforward too! There was 1 water stop near the end of the run, I had my own with me anyway but if you hadn’t water with you maybe would have been good to have water at bike/run transition…but plenty of it near the run end. Loads of water and food at the end when I got in, good soup and bread too! And plenty of that coconut water.
The sport course was tough…Starting in front of Kinnitty Castle the first 300m is just running to the bike, I was in about 15th place going in to the transition but had left the bike in a good spot and I was first out and on the road and stayed there for the first km or 2, then Bernard Smyth passed me like I wasn’t even moving! The first 10-15km on bike was hard and fast, going as fast as possible on the more or less flat road, the HR was well up by the time we turned off at around 15k and hit the hills…at this stage I was in 4th position, the guy in 3rd was about 50 yds in front of me and although I left everything out there on the road I just couldn’t close that gap and kept that distance to the bike/run transition. The last 2km of the cycle before the transition was downhill, so a welcome relief to the legs before starting the run.
I was about 30 seconds off 3rd at the start of the run but it took a km or so for the legs to work properly and by the end I was about 1.5 minutes behind. The run was mostly on fireroad type surface, with a few nice sections through the woods, again the road markings and signs were very good, a few ups and downs and even though it was only 5 km I was glad to get back to the bike.
The final 6.5k on the bike is pretty much all downhill, there are a few sharp bends at the start of it where you need to be feathering the brakes but the organizers have painted a big smiley face on the road when the sharp bends finish to let you know you can let fly, empty the tank and give it hell for leather to the finish. There was no making up the time to 3rd at this point but I put what I could in to it and finished up finishing in 1hr 30mins so was happy with that, completely spent but enjoyed every minutes of it (more or less!!).
Overall this was an excellent event, definitely in the calendar for next year. I didn’t get a jersey but got a nice neck buff which will come in very handy for future events!