Gaelforce West – Sense the Adventure. The Gareth Presch Rough Guide to GFW 2011.

Gaelforce West - Sense the Adventure

Gaelforce West - Sense the Adventure

So we’re just over 8 weeks away from Gaelforce West 2011.Lets look back 12 months ago and see what I’ve learned from last years event to ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes.

12 months ago I wasn’t really doing enough to be honest. I decided last year that I would take a few months off during the summer, so preparation for Gaelforce West at 8 weeks out hadn’t even started for me! So the lesson I learned was to start training early. Gaelforce West is a real physical challenge. This year my training for Gaelforce West started with the Connemara Adventure Challenge in March. I followed that up with the Kildare Half Marathon, Dublin Adventure Race, Gaelforce North, WAR and some training runs. I’ve also been cycling in an out of work 3/4 times a week with one trip to RAW gym per week. As a result I’ve lost a few pounds and I’m beginning to feel the benefits of getting my basic stamina levels up. If like me and you’re in the position I was in last year don’t despair. Just sit down and work out a training schedule for the next 8 weeks.

Training and Nutrition go hand in hand. They say it’s around 70% food and 30% training. So what you put into your body really does count. Treat yourself like an expensive sports car. You wouldn’t put Diesel into a Bugatti would you? If your diet isn’t great, try to do the basics right. Eat breakfast and drink at least 6-8 cups of water a day. Stay away from the takeaways (But don’t cut them out completely – I love a takeaway, even go for a healthy option from Kanum Thai ). People generally know what’s good food and what isn’t. If your shopping, stay away from the frozen Isle. If you need to wash your food before you cook it, then your on the right track.

Gaelforce Bikes

Gaelforce Bikes -

Bike Choice
Now last year I completed Gaelforce West on a Mountain Bike. It is a lot slower, there’s no doubt about that. This year I will be on a racer for sure. Reason being is that the majority of the course is on Road. However, if you want to get around the course without a puncture then it may be wise to go with a mountain bike or a hybrid. There is a good 6km before you get to Croagh Patrick that is off road. Also the decent after Croke Patrick is completely off road for around 2/3km, and not really suitable for road bikes. It’s really your own choice. It’s just the risk you run with choosing a road bike. A puncture is a possibility.Gear to wear
I actually got the gear part of last year right in my opinion. Definitely go with trail runners. The run is about 70% off road so a good pair of trail runners are essential. A pair of tri-shorts is what I recommend. They’re comfy and also dry quickly if they get wet and of course they have padding for the bike section. On top, a good under armour with a cycling top is what I’ll be wearing. You can carry food/gels in the pockets of the cycling jersey. Finally you’ll need a camelback. Last year my camelback was way to small and during the run section it actually broke on me which was a disaster. This year I’ve invested in a decent one that fits comfortably on my back when running. Your mandatory kit will fit into your camelback.
My advice for gear/bike and a service is to head into Cycleways on Parnell Street. They know exactly what they’re talking about and always look after me well.
Gaelforce West - The Beach Start in 2010

Gaelforce West - The Beach Start in 2010


Last year the event started on the beach. Very nice I hear you say! That’s what I thought. But once the horn blows and you set off , your faced with a nasty hill climb. It’s about a 10minute pull before you head down hill at speed. You hit the bottom and bang it’s up hill again. Half way up you head off road and begin your route in around Killary Bay. I remember coming around the corner of Killary Bay with the Sun on my back and the view was just spectacular. I mean breathtaking. Make sure to take it all in. Anyway back to run. This part of the run last year was very wet underfoot. There’s a few tricky sections so watch your footing. After about 50 minutes or so you will come back onto the road section. There’s another pull on the way up before a decline down towards the Kayak section.

Gaelforce - Sense the Adventure Kayaks

Gaelforce - Sense the Adventure Kayaks

The Kayak section is enjoyable. I took some time last year before getting on board ot take in some gels and drink. I’ll be doing the same this year. Once you get off the Kayak there’s about 600 metres of a bog climb before you hit the road. It was wet and sticky last year so I’d expect the same this year. Off the bog and back onto the road for about 4km. Again last year when I got into transition I took my time and took on some water etc. This year I’ll be better prepared as I’ll leave my energy drinks beside the bike and just pop them in my camelback.
Gaelforce - Sense the Adventure- Cycle

Gaelforce - Sense the Adventure - The Cycle

So onto the bike section. It starts off on a nice flat road for a few Km’s before you hit a steep incline that lasts for at 4 km. This was a real test on the MTB, I still remember the climb from last year! Once you get over the climb there’s a nice decent. Just be careful on this as the road is narrow and there’s a very sharp turn at the end of the hill that goes over a bridge. Go wrong there and you’ll be in trouble. The rest of the route to Croagh Patrick isn’t to bad. About 6 km or so from Croagh Patrick you’ll take a left and head up a lane way. It’s a steady incline and soon you’re off road. This is the section that is definitely not racer territory. I remember seeing a lad who had passed me on his racer on the road section with not one, but two punctures. Once you get to Croagh Patrick it’s now when the tiredness begins to set in. Your judgement fails you. I remember last year standing at the bottom and looking up at the summit. I could see everyone was following the trail to the right, I remember saying to myself that’s the long way up. Sure I’ll just go straight up! Big mistake. I’ll definitely be going up the right side and following the trail. I can safely say if you make the mistake I did last year you can add another 25 minutes onto your time. It’s just to steep to climb. Coming down is a different story. Again strangely I came down the route I should have come up. I know this just doesn’t make sense! But I won’t make the same mistake this year. Up on the right and just come straight down. The option of coming straight down is a faster decent but it is also a risky option. If your not comfortable running down a hill at speed I’d go with the marked route. Once you get down your back on your bike for about a km before you again head left up a narrow off road path. This off road section lasts about 3km. There is one section at this point that if your on a racer you will probably have to get off the bike and walk. It’s basically a mountain bike off road section that’s completely downhill, and attempting it on a road bike seriously increasing the chance of you getting a puncture. My advice would be to get off the bike and walk it. It’s about 400 metres. You’ll see what I mean! Last year on the MTB I just flew down it, but this year on the racer I’ll just walk down it. Once you get past this section it’s all road until Westport. I remember last year just thinking about cycling over the line at Westport. Wrong… to my horror when I got to Westport I had to dump the bike and finish with an 800 metre run. Trust me it’s the last thing I wanted to do after 5 hours was a short run. But this year I know what to expect so I’ll have something left in the tank for the last run. Once you get the short run out of the way it’s over the line to a well deserved cup of hot soup. I remember being totally shattered last year and that was down to a few errors I made. Firstly, the night before I didn’t get down in enough time. Leave yourself plenty of time to get down and register etc. We didn’t get to Westport until after 10 pm. We hadn’t eaten, and by the time we got to bed it was near 1am and with and early start of 5am. It wasn’t good prep. Secondly, bike choice, I should have done it on a racer. Finally, Croagh Patrick, I should have stuck to the route on the way up and come straight down.Finally what I intend doing this year is to be in a position to really enjoy the course. If I can get myself fit and ready and get the preparation right then it will be an event to remember. Not saying last year wasn’t. But I certainly didn’t do myself any favours!
Gaelforce West - Sense the Adventure Challenge for the Tania McCabe Foundation

Gaelforce West - Sense the Adventure Challenge for the Tania McCabe Foundation

I hope you find the information above of interest. This year I hope to complete the Gaelforce West Challenge for the Tania McCabe Foundation –

 if you would like to sponsor the foundation or wish to Sense the Adventure on the Gaelforce West challenge just pop me an email at
Yours in Sport,
Gareth Presch

Gareth Presch

Gareth Presch
June 2011


About Sense The Adventure

Bringing the world of adventure to life
This entry was posted in Gaelforce West and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Gaelforce West – Sense the Adventure. The Gareth Presch Rough Guide to GFW 2011.

  1. Sinead says:

    Great tips there Gareth ! Am training for my first Gael Force so glad of the overview!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s