Blackwater Triathlon Club member, Kay Quirke, recently took part in two long distance endurance events that pushed her to new limits, covering over 200kms of cycling, kayaking, running and walking over consecutive weekends. Fortunately, she still had enough energy afterwards to write a report of her experiences in the mountains and hills of West Cork and Kerry:
It would be true to say I’m not known for my swimming skills. That said, the Triathlon Club has given me a good base and the confidence to take on other events. I was lucky to have signed up for two events that both went ahead in recent weeks; the first was Quest 12 Beara on August 28th and the second the Kerry Way Ultralight on September 4th.
Quest 12 Beara is an adventure race based in and around the Beara Peninsula. The route was a total of 152 kilometres, divided up over 7 stages (trail run 41 km, cycle 108 km, and kayak 3 km). Weather conditions were dry and calm, although quite hot. I knew from the start that the midway cut-off time was very tight, and that it would be touch and go whether I’d make it. On the day I got there by the skin of my teeth, discovering that there are a lot more hills in west cork than I had bargained for. Mountain and sea combined to give dramatic scenery and tough climbs. The final 3 stages were unique, going out and back to Bere island by kayak, with the final trail run up to the Martello tower and cross on the island. The kayaking was done in double kayaks with random partners depending on who turned up next to you. This variety is a great addition to the event, and there was good camaraderie among the competitors. I was delighted to complete the course on the day, and finish in one piece. This was the first running of Quest Beara, and the only race of the Quest Series to take place so far this year. It gave me a great introduction to West Cork, and I would love to return another day, this time at my leisure and with no cut-off in sight!
The second event was The Kerry Way Ultralight. This is a trail running event which takes place every year. The main event is 200 km, and my event was a reduced version totalling 58 km, from Sneem to Killarney via Kenmare following the Kerry Way hiking route. (The 200km version consists of the entire Kerry Way, starting and finishing in Killarney, taking in the full peninsula). Ground and weather conditions couldn’t have been better: dry and calm, though again a bit too hot for comfort. There was one transition point for our route, located in Kenmare; our drop bags (food and water supplies) had been transported there ahead of us. I’ve heard that longer distance events require a slower pace and more food. That suits me just fine. I was very well stocked! I also made a point of staying hydrated, making sure to include plenty of electrolytes, along the way. My strategy generally is to walk most of the uphill parts, then trot once I reach level ground and heading downhill. The Kerry Way takes you through remote territory, with not a house in sight for miles, and in places, not many sheep either it is so barren. If you want a far-flung location, look no further.
It was a great sense of accomplishment to finish and to be part of the buzz of the whole weekend’s activities. In the past, I would never have thought about taking on these distances, but I have discovered that, when I can go at my own pace, and have a reasonable base of fitness, I can give it a lash!
Well done to Kay for completing two such challenging events.