Quest Glendalough

By | November 9, 2021

Adventure races have increased in popularity in recent years. For triathletes who find cycling and running on actual footpaths and paved roads just not quite challenging enough, these races are an opportunity to add a few extra hardships along the way. Mountain trails, bogs, forest runs, freezing streams and wildlife encounters are all part of a regular day for adventure race aficionados.  One such person is Blackwater Triathlon Club member, Kay Quirke. Kay has competed in several of these events over the years and on Saturday the 30th of October she headed off to the wild and beautiful environs of Glendalough to take part in the Quest Glendalough Adventure Race. For most people Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, renowned for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. One would have to wonder what St. Kevin would have thought of his locality being invaded by large numbers of lycra clad adventure racers? At the very least we can hope that he’d have said a few prayers for them as they crossed the hills and mountains at high speed.  It was a case of 3rd time lucky for the event which had been postponed twice in the last year. Kay took part in the 59km expert route made up of a 37km bike, 21km trail run, and 1km kayak. This was spread out over 7 stages. Kay has shared with us her account of her day traversing the hills, valleys and lakes of Wicklow.

“The route looked hilly on paper and it didn’t disappoint on the day. On the 2nd trail run/hike I was starting to fade on a climb that seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t help asking myself could I push a bit harder, and the answer was a definite ‘Yes’. And then I asked myself, would I enjoy it any more for pushing any harder? And the answer was an even more definitive ‘No!’ So I took a sandwich out of my bag and ploughed on as best as I could. Road conditions were generally good for the bike, with a few bumpy sections, and some wet patches after the heavy rain in the days before. Some segments were red flagged for steep descents and sharp bends. I have a healthy self-preservation instinct and didn’t wait to be told twice to take it easy. Perhaps you could say I’m always half expecting a worst case scenario around every bend – a pothole, a fox in flight, or more likely the case a stray water bottle from an earlier rider. On one bumpy section I was overtaken by a rider who seemed to be well in control. Moments later I came around a bend and saw him being assisted by a marshal and grass hanging off his handlebars (I think he was okay, he was standing at least). I was very glad of the disc brakes on my bike at that point. The highlight for me was the kayak section in the upper lake in Glendalough. Event organisers apply for special permission to use the lake as kayaking isn’t normally allowed there. The steep surrounds and autumnal trees made for a stunning backdrop. On the final run back from the kayak to the village of Laragh, the route was busy with tourists heading up to the old monastery and enjoying an afternoon stroll in the woods. I recall passing one runner whose quads were bulging as big as a Belgian Blue’s backside, but he was cramping badly and going nowhere. I trotted on past and hoped for the best on his behalf. In fairness to him, he must’ve managed to loosen up as he and his pal passed me again a little while later. (For those of you from a non-agricultural background, a ‘Belgian Blue’ is a type of beef cattle from Belgium, renowned for its rounded outline and prominent muscles)

The finish line was now in sight in the field by the edge of the village. I found the route tough going but managed to finish strong. My final time was 5 hours 32 minutes. I was somewhere near the back end of the field, but it makes no odds where you finish – everyone gets the same welcome and a hot meal after the finish line. I savoured every bite and counted my blessings to have the health to take part. Hats off to the Quest team for an expertly run event.”

Thanks to Kay for that entertaining account of her day out adventuring in the wilds of County Wicklow and kudos for completing such an arduous event with such good humour.

Adventure races have increased in popularity in recent years. For triathletes who find cycling and running on actual footpaths and paved roads just not quite challenging enough, these races are an opportunity to add a few extra hardships along the way. Mountain trails, bogs, forest runs, freezing streams and wildlife encounters are all part of a regular day for adventure race aficionados.  One such person is Blackwater Triathlon Club member, Kay Quirke. Kay has competed in several of these events over the years and on Saturday the 30th of October she headed off to the wild and beautiful environs of Glendalough to take part in the Quest Glendalough Adventure Race. For most people Glendalough is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, renowned for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. One would have to wonder what St. Kevin would have thought of his locality being invaded by large numbers of lycra clad adventure racers? At the very least we can hope that he’d have said a few prayers for them as they crossed the hills and mountains at high speed.  It was a case of 3rd time lucky for the event which had been postponed twice in the last year. Kay took part in the 59km expert route made up of a 37km bike, 21km trail run, and 1km kayak. This was spread out over 7 stages. Kay has shared with us her account of her day traversing the hills, valleys and lakes of Wicklow.

“The route looked hilly on paper and it didn’t disappoint on the day. On the 2nd trail run/hike I was starting to fade on a climb that seemed to go on forever. I couldn’t help asking myself could I push a bit harder, and the answer was a definite ‘Yes’. And then I asked myself, would I enjoy it any more for pushing any harder? And the answer was an even more definitive ‘No!’ So I took a sandwich out of my bag and ploughed on as best as I could. Road conditions were generally good for the bike, with a few bumpy sections, and some wet patches after the heavy rain in the days before. Some segments were red flagged for steep descents and sharp bends. I have a healthy self-preservation instinct and didn’t wait to be told twice to take it easy. Perhaps you could say I’m always half expecting a worst case scenario around every bend – a pothole, a fox in flight, or more likely the case a stray water bottle from an earlier rider. On one bumpy section I was overtaken by a rider who seemed to be well in control. Moments later I came around a bend and saw him being assisted by a marshal and grass hanging off his handlebars (I think he was okay, he was standing at least). I was very glad of the disc brakes on my bike at that point. The highlight for me was the kayak section in the upper lake in Glendalough. Event organisers apply for special permission to use the lake as kayaking isn’t normally allowed there. The steep surrounds and autumnal trees made for a stunning backdrop. On the final run back from the kayak to the village of Laragh, the route was busy with tourists heading up to the old monastery and enjoying an afternoon stroll in the woods. I recall passing one runner whose quads were bulging as big as a Belgian Blue’s backside, but he was cramping badly and going nowhere. I trotted on past and hoped for the best on his behalf. In fairness to him, he must’ve managed to loosen up as he and his pal passed me again a little while later. (For those of you from a non-agricultural background, a ‘Belgian Blue’ is a type of beef cattle from Belgium, renowned for its rounded outline and prominent muscles)

The finish line was now in sight in the field by the edge of the village. I found the route tough going but managed to finish strong. My final time was 5 hours 32 minutes. I was somewhere near the back end of the field, but it makes no odds where you finish – everyone gets the same welcome and a hot meal after the finish line. I savoured every bite and counted my blessings to have the health to take part. Hats off to the Quest team for an expertly run event.”

Thanks to Kay for that entertaining account of her day out adventuring in the wilds of County Wicklow and kudos for completing such an arduous event with such good humour.