An epic battle is on the cards as the Continental National Adventure Race series heads to WAAR in the beautiful Donegal this weekend! The first of the new events in the NARS 2019 sees over 600 adventure racers head to west Donegal for the Wild Atlantic Adventure Race where they will run on what’s been voted the most picturesque runway in the world, kayak in Mullaghdearg lake, cycle along the Wild Atlantic Way (including a ‘small’ climb up Tór and hike An Croghan Mór. The weather looks favorable and we are expecting some serious competitive racing!! This event is part of the Sport series only and competitors in the Full WAAR course will collect points towards the series standings.
In the women’s race, current Series leader Niamh Garvey has made the trip north to try and extend her lead at the top of the table. Two good results so far have put her in a commanding spot and a few more podium finishes are very likely before the season is done. Siobhan Gallagher had a super result here last year and finished second and looks to us like she will be very hard to beat on Saturday. Sharon McKenna is also back this year and no doubt will be in contention for podium spot. We are going with a win for Siobhan, Niamh for second and Sharon for third.
The men’s event looks like it could be the race of the year! Current Sport Series top 3 of Philip Smith, Niall Smith and Bernard Smyth are all on the starting line and hoping to pick up some valuable points, its close at the top and a point or 2 might make all the difference come November when the final tallies are in. A good win at the Shannon Blueway AR last weekend and victory at Quest Glendalough a month ago should make Niall the firm favorite out of this group…but the field also includes former winners, course record holder and current National Expert Series champion…as wel las a host of accomplished local racers who all will have a say in the matter! It will be interesting to see how this race works out, it’s not often that there is an opportunity for a mix of Sport and Expert competitors all racing in the same event so expect a cracker of a race. It is looking most likely that the battle for top spot will be between Shaun Stewart and Marty Lynch. Eamon McGee ran Shaun close at Sliabh Liag a few weeks back so won’t be holding back, last years WAAR top 6 are all returning and will be hoping the bit of prior course experience will help on the day. Damien McBride, Peter Gaffney, Edward Harkin, Michael Flood and Peter O’Donnell should put in a good shift and won’t be far off the mark.
There shouldn’t be much between the top 10 here after the first run and you’d expect a good grouping for the first 20k or so on the bike before the climb at TOR and the 2k run at An Croghan Mór by which time the field should have opened up. Got a feeling this will come right down to the wire with Marty and Shaun to take the honors (really is too close to call between these 2….so tossed a coin and going for Marty by about a second)…and it would be no surprise if we see a new course record on Saturday. Our bet is for Niall Smith and Eamon McGee to shoot it out for 3rd….with Peter O’Donnell and Philip Smith pushing for top 5 also. A decent first run and not dropped off the back of the bunch getting in to T1 might give Bernard Smyth and Michael Flood an outside shot of top 5 as both are strong on the bike and could put in a decent stage here. It’s going to be a cracking day on Saturday!!!