Let me set the scene… It’s the night before the biggest race of my life. I’m racing twice the distance that I’m used to racing in a couple of hours. My first Ultra. Reality has kicked in. I’m lying in bed freaking out. The range of emotions and thoughts going through me would make your head spin. I tend to find comfort in writing. Before I know I have composed the following and posted it on Facebook. Initially it left me a little red faced as this type of behaviour is totally unlike me but the response, support and feedback I got, blew me away. Again, going outside my norm here, I thought I would share it with the greater Adventure Racing community as you may be able to relate to it. It maybe the eve of your first ever race or where you are stepping outside your comfort zone, and spiraling towards a meltdown. read on…

Pre-race Nerves

Time to get poetic folks because shit is about to get real.

I am consumed by the unknown. The fear of the unknown. What the unknown has in store for me. Thoughts and worries of whats beyond my control. How will I face the unknown? How will i champion the unknown and come out as victor? All these thoughts and more.

I have always in sport challenged myself. Pushed myself. Even when out of my depth. I always deep down battled with inner demons that would taunt me, saying your not good enough. These demons would patiently sit in the back of the mind, quietly banging their drums, rhythm-less, that you cannot silence.

I have had these drum beats for as long as I can remember. On occasion, they beat louder, even more irregular than others times but I guess I am not alone.

When I heard about this race, the beats were silent and instead, the humming of tranquil notes took their rightful thrown. I was bullet proof. I was training well. Eating well. Injury free. I signed up! The goal 11:59:59. To finish 146km around Kerry, taking in Ireland’s highest point on one of the stages, shy of a half marathon on another, a hilly 108k bike over 3 stages and a 5k kayak, in under 12 hours. That’s it. How hard could it possibly be. I had 8 months to make this happen.

Pain is inevitable. I would not have entered this, if I didn’t want to feel pain, discomfort, both physical and mental. I have found that when I have pushed myself outside my comfort zone, my comfort zone gets bigger. I am therefore more at ease with things that once seemed difficult. Is this the reason I continue to push my own physical and mental boundaries, to increase my comfort zone. Perhaps. I have no one definitive answer. It’s too wide a question to the eternal question “why do I do these races?” A question often thrown at me.

Kerry routes & Kerry roots
Another draw, was the location and the fact that Kerry has always held a special place to me. My dads side are all Kerry. As a young lad growing up in Dublin in the 70’s and 80’s, we used to pack up the car and head for Ballinskelligs. Summers playing under the shadow of the mighty Skelligs are fondly remembered. The fact the route passed right by the fields where I would have played, or by the farm where I milked the cows was too much for me to pass up. The start line is just up the road from where my dad’s brother Jim lives…Sneem. Was always the last pit stop before we hit Ballinskelligs if we were not taking the Cahirciveen road.

Tomorrow, at 6.30am, I will line up with 350 of my tribe, Friends, competitors, comrades, warriors, some more battle hardened at this level than others. They will no doubt relish this opportunity to take on the mighty kingdom where every stage complete would be like a mighty blow to your opponent. For those of us who are cutting our teeth in the world of Ultra Adventure Racing, I can only speak for myself, but have a feeling there will be a lot like myself, will most likely have a rocky sleep tonight.

I have trained, long and hard. Probably in better shape than I have been in years but probably could have trained more and with the race looming at sunrise, although quite now, I’m sure the drum beats will resonate load and will beat with an unmerciful clatter at my weakest, lowest point. And I expect and hope, we meet face to face, head on, for I am consumed by the unknown. The fear of the unknown. What the unknown has in store for me. Thoughts and worries of what’s beyond my control. How will I face the unknown? How will i champion the unknown and come out as victor? All these thoughts and more.

I have written this, even after lovely chilled evening, my head is spinning, thinking about the sound of the starters gun tomorrow morning at 6.30am, in an effort to clear my mind, put it at ease and it has done so. If you found this helpful yourself, or you can relate, I hope it was of some use but if you found it to be nothing more than just a boring rant-like, self-indulgent, pity-me everyone, piece of crap. I apologize, I cannot give you your minutes back but by reading it, you have given minutes back to me…which will definitely come in handy tomorrow.

Now, off for some much needed sleep. In case you haven’t heard, have a little matter of a race to do in morning. lol How do i get myself into these situations? ? If you want to follow my progress tomorrow, you can. There is live tracking in the race.

Here is the link http://live.primaltracking.com/quest12/ and I am number 259.



So how did I get on? Click on image below for my race report and it’s also available in the Septembers issue of the free monthly magazine.