Gaelforce North 2011
“Are you ready” the starter says, and 5 seconds later off the air horn sounds… and we’re off!
The first couple of Kilometres are all down hill and we (again it’s me and my friend Alan) set off fast. Too fast to be honest, as after about 20 mins of hard running I’m beginning to feel the pace. 30 mins in and at this stage I’m actually struggling. I take on board an energy gel as we get to the Castle Grounds. The run down has been scenic, but having set off so fast I’ve hardly had time to take it all in. 40 mins in and we hit the turn, and the first hill. It’s a steady climb, and at this point I start to feel good. I keep my head down with one step in front of the other, and soon enough I’m passing a few fellow competitors, who, like myself, probably are feeling the pace of the start. Easy to get carried away when you’re running downhill!:)
I get to the top of the long, winding hill, and the trail begins to level out. At this stage I’m feeling good. Just one problem, I can feel a blister forming on my right foot. The trail then begins to slope downhill and towards the Kayak. We push on and get to the Kayak before our targeted 1hr 20mins. Two gels and more drink before grabbing my oar and setting off across the lake. The Kayak goes well as we have the wind at our backs. In no time we’re off the Kayak and onto the bikes.
The bike leg starts off with a nasty climb, followed by a nice descent. It’s a climb all the way to Errigal, but at least at this point the sun has come out. I have a look around and I can see Alan. We’ve definitely made a mistake choosing to do the cycle on a mountain bike at this stage as the roads are in good condition. My strength is definitely the bike. I decide to swap bikes with Alan as my mountain bike has road tyres and is easier to cycle. The cycle now is going to be hard as the mountain bike I’ve just got onto is not set up for me. We push on and despite being extremely uncomfortable we’re making good time. A few km on and I take a look up and realise we’re only about 4km from Errigal. I look at Errigal and I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of Errigal. Strange, I know!
Off the bike and a quick gel, and I look up at Errigal and the route. It’s clear to see we’ll be doing little running up the mountain as it’s so steep. We set off, and after about 20 minutes I can see why this mountain has such a reputation. The route is steep. It’s a real climb. I look around as we reach half way up, and the view is amazing. I’m a few feet ahead of Alan and he gives me the thumbs up. Right, so let’s get to the top. I push on and we get to the top. The view is awesome. Now comes the task of getting down the mountain. It’s going to be a tricky descent. I set off, and we’re making good time. At this stage the body feels good but the pressure is on the thighs with every step down. It’s taking its toll. 20 minutes or so later and we’re down. Now for the last cycle.
The first few kilometres are on the road, and then we hit the off road section, and at this stage I’m delighted we’re on the mountain bike. The trail is not suited for a racer. I pass quite a few people who have to walk as the terrain is too bad to cycle on. 4/5km of off road and we’re now 4km from the finish. With 18mins or so until the 5 hour mark Alan and I push hard. We get off the bike with a spring in our step, that is soon taken out of us by the run on the sand. There’s a sand dune 200 meters from the finish and it really does take it out off us. We’re not going to give up though. We get over the dune and race to the line. 5 hours on the button. Another one down, and now the focus really does switch to Gaelforce West.
The Tania McCabe Foundation Anyone out there who would still like to compete in Gaelforce West for the Tania McCabe Foundation and have not yet registered, please send me a private message. Or if you know any fit (athletic fit!) people who may be interested please share the info please! It will be a great weekend (for supporters also!) so join in in whatever way possible. Thanks very much.