The Quest Glendalough 2023 Form Guide
We are used to spending half the year Adventure Racing up and down the Wild Atlantic Way but come April there is only one place to be…Laragh in Co Wicklow for Quest Glendalough…the East Coast Grand National in the garden of Ireland…an absolute must do event.
After the shambles of a form guide for the opening event of the ARI Solo National AR series (Quest Kenmare) the work experience young lad has been docked a fortnights pay and been locked in a room with the start list, a Ouija board and the threat of no supper for a week if he doesn’t come up with the goods this time round!!
Quest Kenmare gave us a bit of an insight to who is going well but as usual Glendalough brings out the best of the best and the list of contenders is long…and of course “…there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”
Womens Sport: Returning 2022 winner Sinead O’Reilly will be looking to make it 2 in a row but Rhianna Henaghan romped home 3 weeks ago in Kenmare and on that form suggests that she may well be the one to beat, we think we may not have seen the best of her yet. Strong performances by Orlaith Smith, Gill Heery, Denise Molloy and Sharon Martin can’t be discounted either but it looks like Rhianna/Sinead….but if it’s close by the kayak stage then Sinead should have enough on the final 4k….and then Orlaith for the podium.
The most competitive line up we have seen take to the start line for quite a while
. Team West almost had a clean sweep in Kenmare and will come to Glendalough with a solid plan to maximize their haul with at least 3 of the party well able to take the win here. Donnellan, Hickey, Renton, McCarthy all in with a shout. Feeney, Smyth, McGuinness, McKelvey, OBrien and McGibney are also flying and well capable of winning this. This won’t be a race for the faint hearted and we have no doubt as soon as the safety car pulls off that the attack on the Shea Elliot will start. Declan Donnellan who wasn’t at peak fitness in Kenmare and managed to secure second place has to be fancying his chances here and will have his card marked, reigning National Series Champion Bernard Smyth has always done well too. Paul Feeney we think might have a better chance on this course than he did in Kenmare and with 3 runs stages could be in with a shout to upset the TW party. Donal Stagg and Shane ONeill will be contesting too and Paul OBrien shouldn’t be ruled out…Hard to see beyond a Team West win here, there will be a plan for every eventuality….with David Hickey the man likely to claim the top spot, but will he be joined by a few more from west of the Shannon…We are going for Hickey/Feeney/Smyth if they all start….but realistically we think David Hickey for the win is nailed on and then really it could be any of the above to make top 3
Womens Expert: Back in the 90’s it was all about choices….Coke or Pepsi, Blur or Oasis…you were one or the other, pushed to choose between the 2 (obviously Oasis were better but anyway)… Well the womens expert is the same, with a monopoly at the top for several years it’s a case of pick either Laura ODriscoll or Ellen Vitting. In a league of their own they make the form guide a nightmare…who do we pick to win this week, inevitably it’s the form guide kiss of death, whoever we go for usually finishes second to the other!! A fine win in Kenmare for Ellen but then a great performance by both at the Maurice Mullins race last weekend offer no huge indication of how this might go, a very strong bike in Kenmare suggests Ellen might have the upper hand here. Outside of this the battle for too 3 looks strong too, Ger Kelly had a fine result in Kenmare, Ronie Rotherford and a Rosie Temple will do well, Aine Lennon could put up a very strong challenge and if Aine Mahony is match fit then she might lead the chasing pack. We are going to go with Ellen for the win, Laura second and Aine/Ger for third…although Ronie/Rosie might sneak 3rd if this go right.
Mens Expert: As expected QG brings a star studded field. One of the shortest expert courses from a distance point of view might fool you in to thinking this was a handy one when the reality is it’s a beast of a course, 8 stages so plenty of transition and plenty of vert both on the bike and on foot.
Seb Giruad got off to a flying start in Kenmare and has done well here before and will know where he can win or lose this. Local turf will work in favour of Niall Davis who should go well. Other to watch are Mickie Brennan, Johann Muller, David McArdle, Dave Power, Gareth Kelly, Dave Sheehy and Lonan OFarrell. A strong Donegal contingent will be anxious to make the journey worthwhile and Declan Ferry is main challenge, Charlie ODonnell is our one to watch and Paul McKelvey will be in the shakeup. Johnny Conway has been the ‘most improved young racer’ the past year and after hitting a milestone birthday in Kenmare a few weeks ago finds himself in a new category and might fancy picking up a little silverware and his local knowledge shouldn’t be discounted.
Very difficult to try and narrow it down and pick a winner….Seb is the man to beat but Niall Davis, Declan Ferry and Charlie O’Donnell likely the strongest challengers for top 3 and the win with Mickie Brennan and Johann Muller top 5