Monday, June 22, 2009

Kilbroney Challenge

Off they are!

When the cat's away, the mice will play...

Well, my coach was out of the country, so I took this opportunity to take part in one of my other favourite sports: adventure racing. I love adventure racing, but my coach is afraid of me injuring myself on the run, which is often on open mountain and technical terrain. And he is kinda right, especially since I don't really do any running. After a bit of last minute juggling, I teamed up with friend and fellow MADster Sean Downey. I knew he'd be a great partner, and that we'd be well matched on the bike and run, mainly due to college committments having slowed him down recently.

Sean leading the run through some tough terrain

The race was a bike (16km) - run (2km) - bike (14km) - run (10km) - bike (7km) - kayak event, over open mountain, fireroad and sheep paths and with the kayak section in Carlingford Lough. It was mostly waymarked, but a little bit of navigation was required to not miss any of the control points. The plan was to go hard on the biking sections and try to contain the damage on the runs, which would always be my slower discipline.

Pushing the bike

We started off at 10:30 with a neutral start and then almost straight into a hike-a-bike section followed by some fast fireroad. With Sean doing all the navigating I concentrated on just riding fast. We made it into the first transition in 3rd position, but lost a good few places in the run, with a few of the male teams catching up with us. The run was straight up a steep mountain and straight down on another side, mostly off road over technical terrain. Sean was leading on the climb and descent, while I gingerly navigated over the open mountain terrain, careful not to trip or twist my ankle.


We got back onto the bikes and went really hard. We started catching up with all of the guys who had overtaken us on the run, so that we came into the 2nd transition again in 3rd place. A bit of a blip of not listening to the marshalls carefully meant we ended up at the wrong mast, but master navigator Sean figured out the mistake fast enough and we hadn't lost too much time when we reached the correct mast. The next bit of run was a great descent along the top of the mountains on an easy path. This was then followed by a more and more technical descent to a river and a traverse to an old farm yard. At the farmyard we had to solve a riddle which we managed in OK time (well, we weren't as slow as the first team ;)). This was then followed by a long boggy and energy sapping section uphill and back to the transition.

Sean riding along the beach

I was soo happy to be back on the bike at that stage! A little bit more of a boggy walk-a-bike section, and we arrived at the top of the mountain to start the last long descent. This descent more than made up for all the suffering before, it was great singletrack on sheep paths between ferns, and a really cool twisty proper mtb singletrack section in a wood before dropping us out back onto the road. A quick trip to the beach before returning to the race start, where we had one more transition to the kayak. Due to strong winds the kayak section had been shorted to a few hundred meters only, which was great, because I was so scared out boat would capsize, such high were the waves. The way out was hard against the wind and the waves, but on the way back you only needed to catch a few waves that brought you back to the start. With a smile on the face (on my part) we reached the finish in 1st position of the mixed category and 8th overall (out of 35 teams).

Carrying back the boat

I love the after race atmosphere and watching the other teams coming in. A good time was had by all afterwards in the yacht club, with food and drinks. Thanks to Rowan MacMahon and the Not the Sunday Run crew for organizing such a great race. And of course thanks to Sean for teaming up with me and not killing me on the runs and for being a great navigator and just an awesome teammate!

Arriving at the finish :)

More info about he Kilbroney Challenge can be found on their blog.

All pictures from here.

Results can be found here.

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