I completed my first adventure race in my 49th year – and what a choice I made by taking on the inaugural Gaelforce West. I had never taken part in anything like this before. I completely understood the idea of the ‘first step of any expedition’ being the hardest mentally to overcome and didn’t really think I could keep running/cycling/climbing mountains for 6 – 8 hours so never put myself in that difficult place.
However, with all the discussion of the route, the logistics etc. that was happening in our house, in one moment of madness I suggested that perhaps I would do the race myself and having uttered the thought I couldn’t back down. I didn’t run much (maybe twice a week at that stage) and I’m not fast, but I do keep going – the tortoise and the hare – and I don’t like giving up. My kayaking was very rusty and very basic but it never really leaves you does it? Lastly I had to get up on the old bike which hadn’t seen any action in a long time and in the weeks before the event Ijust completed five or six 15 mile cycles for my preparation. What was I thinking……
Standing on the beach waiting for
the gun (on that race we were all lined up together, elites & the also rans) I was pretty much in awe of those around me – especially a very fit 17 year old girl. Heading off up the first hill from the beach I was at the back and thought there I would stay. However, I kept going & started to even overtake a few people on the hills as they gingerly leapt from rock to rock and I just went for it with gay abandon. The kayak past uneventfully and whilst the run through the bog to Dephi wasn’t pleasant, the torture of cycling up the hill to Drummin will stay with me forever.
Somehow though, my second wind arrived once we hit the main Wesport Road before the long haul up to Croagh Patrick & once again I started to pass the odd competitor – mind over matter. Even my leaden legs when I got off the bike couldn’t stop me from climbing slowly to the top of the mountain. From there it was all downhill – the Scalp seemed like nothing as adrenalin took over and peddled me into the grounds of Westport House and the last run through the trees.
I wasn’t a pretty sight as I crossed the finish line but what a sense of achievement – 7 hours 1 minute – and I beat the 17 year old athlete among quite a few others. There was still life in the old dog…….