On Saturday the 7th March, 3 Blackwater Triathlon Club members, Kay Quirke, Michael Mulcahy and Frank Kiernan, travelled to Kenmare, County Kerry to take part in the first Quest Adventure Race of the 2020 season. Quest Adventure races are one day, multi-sport events consisting of various run, cycle and kayak stages. Quest Kenmare had 3 different events on offer on the day that took the athletes on routes through the picturesque mountains and valleys of the Beara Peninsula and the boutique charm of Kenmare Town. The three distances available were the 28km “Challenge” race, the 43km “Sport” race and the 78km “Expert” event. Kay took part in the 43km “Sport” race, while Mick and Frank went the “Expert” route. Kay’s day consisted of 6 tough stages starting with an 18km cycle, followed by an 8km run and then a 14km cycle. The day finished off with a 1km run, a 1km kayak and then a final 1km run. Kay crossed the finish line in an excellent 2:52:25. Mick and Frank had to contend with 8 stages, starting with a 26km cycle, followed by an 8km run before taking to the saddle again for another 19km. This was followed by another 8km run and then a 14km cycle. Their day also finished off with a 1km run, a 1km kayak and then a final 1km run. Definitely a challenging start to the race season for everyone who took part. Mick Mulcahy wrote an account of his and Frank’s adventures on the day for us.
“It was a very tough day out. On the plus side the rain decided to hold off for the day. Unfortunately we had very strong winds instead to replace the rain. Fair play to the folks down in Kerry, there are always very welcoming. We started at 8:45am and kept a steady pace at the back of the large group for the 1st leg cycle of 26k. We didn’t want to show our hand too early. As was expected in this beautiful but mountainous part of the country, there were plenty of hills in the cycle. When we got to T1 the marshals told us there were soup and sandwiches at the top of the mountain. We were delighted to hear that and there was an extra spring to our steps as we jumped off the bikes, got out of the bikes shoes and put on the trail runners. Frank got a bit upset though when some lad who had just come down said he nearly lost his shoes in the mud. Frank was hoping to wear his to work Monday morning after only getting them 2 days earlier. At this stage Frank was determined to drop out, purely for the sake of his shiny new shoes! I persuaded him to carry on by promising to help him wash his shoes after the race. So off we went…and you’ll never guess what? There was no soup and sandwiches at the top!! After climbing for nearly 3km we were not happy! We decided to head back down and we had a word or two with the marshals, expressing our disappointment in a very civilised manner. I won’t repeat exactly what we said here, in case anyone of a delicate disposition is reading. The marshals were very apologetic and explained that they had made a perfectly understandable mistake. The soup and sandwiches were at the top of the other mountain! Fortunately, we had our own stash of sandwiches anyway, so back on with the bike shoes and off we went on the 21k spin of nice big hills. Strong wind stayed with us for company. We really put in an effort on this leg. We got word back the leaders heard about our efforts and got worried so they put in a big effort. A while later we got word again that they had made massive time on us. You’ll see their finish times and we like to think that we helped in our own small way by inspiring them. Myself and Frank had to rethink our strategy, so we called and emergency meeting and pulled over and had our sandwiches. Let’s not panic we said. So we called it as we saw it, we couldn’t do anything about the top of the leader board, so….let’s focus on the other end of it. Genius!!! Back on the bike and off we went. We had to get off and walk some of the climbs. Strong wind decided to mess about with us, hitting us from all angles. At 1 stage I think I was 30 degrees with the road side angled into the wind. We got to T2 ready for the next mountain climb of 8k. Whispers were flying around transition about the mountain conditions. They told us we would enjoy the descent, look forward to that. We looked across the valley from transition and saw all these yellow and orange specks miles away. Frank and I were looking at each thinking Jaysus, do we have to go there? Whose idea was this anyway? Off we went. The start of the mountain climb was nice and clean. Frank was thinking he’d still be able to wear the runners to work Monday morning. By the time we got to the top, there wasn’t a hope he would, unless they made some pretty extreme changes to their dress code!! Back down the mountain we tore, flying it!! Frank went off piste for a while, thinking he could get steadier ground. I was a bit higher and could see where he was going. No way was he going to steadier ground. That didn’t work, so back on trail he came. We got back to transition, it was then I realised that all the effort we put in to our training over the last fews months was really standing to us, and our decision to refocus our efforts on the bottom end of the leader board was paying off!!! There were about 10 bikes left in transition from several hundred! Then they told us there was no kayak section due to the increasingly strong winds! We were delighted to hear that! There were really strong winds all over Kenmare and they were playing havoc with us and the other athletes. It got so bad we could hardly stand in one spot. Fair play to the winds though, they give as well as taking away and helped us out on the last leg staying at our back all the way on the 14km cycle back to Kenmare. We weren’t allowed to go straight to the finish line, they made us run/ walk again for 2k to the finish line. By Jaysus were we glad to see that. It’s was only then that we got the soup……and no blooming sandwiches!!! They weren’t at the top of climb 2 either. We finished the race in a time of 5:28:14, missing out on a podium place by a mere two hours and 14 minutes! Obviously if they’d had the sandwiches at the first stop we’d have pit a little more pressure on the winners. All and all it was a great day out. The marshals were fantastic all the way around the course, soup and sandwich propaganda aside. There was great scenery and great craic. We enjoyed our coffee and croissant in the French cafe Frank loves after. Well worth it. Now all we have to do is clean those blooming runners for Frank!!”