David Power gives his thoughts on the contenders & final preparation for one of the biggest adventure races of the year, Killarney Adventure Race.
Check out the course
If it’s your first time doing KAR (like me), it’s well worth checking out the route maps and videos. I was surprised at how helpful the videos were. I’ve heard of pros “visualising” a race, and after watching these videos it really helped me understand the terrain, hills and scenery. Given that I’ve an awful record of taking wrong turns or getting lost on IMRA races, I’m going to watch them a few times on wide-screen HD to be sure.
For me, I love the mountain runs, so hope to make up time there. Strickeen looks ok (although the fab weather conditions last year might tint my judgement a bit). I’m really looking forward to the ascent of Torc and Mangerton – it’s a long slog, and in the past I’ve lost a bit of time on the descent, so going to just let myself go. The cycle sounds spectacular, going through the Gap of Dunloe, the Black Valley and Moll’s Gap. Just hoping the American tourists in their “stick shift” rental cars don’t block our paths!
They say that “the table never lies” – if so, Chris Caulfield is the man to beat in KAR, as he’s top of the National Adventure Race Series Expert Points Table. He’s had 4 top 3 finishes, so Mr. Consistency indeed. However KAR should attract a top, top field. Experience counts for a lot – so previous winners such as Tim O’Donoghue and Adrian Hennessy will be there. Tim’s missed a lot of races due to injury (but destroyed the field on a roasting day in Dingle in June) and Adrian has been off form at times, but don’t discount them. Aidan McMoreland has 2 wins from both Gael Force races, but one man I think could do well is Killian Heery, who won the Achill ROAR and is a strong cyclist. If people like Paul Tierney, Diarmuid Collins or Peter O’Farrell show up, it’s gonna be hard to get into the top 10, not to mind the top 3.
Take it easy this week
Honestly, all the hard work is done now. You’re not going to fly up Mangerton next weekend if you run up Carrauntoohil tomorrow. Your body needs time to rest and recover from the hard training, so you’re raring to go on Saturday morning. I’ve done a few marathons, and that’s the hardest part, resting the week before. You’re eager to go for that last extra long/hard run. Don’t. Keep running and cycling this week, but don’t push it. Just keep the legs fresh and enjoy your training.
Sleep is also underrated – our busy lives mean we cut time of resting, but it’s a non-negotiable for me. Aim to get 7-8 hours sleep a night. Also, stop looking at your Twitter, crappy TV shows or your phone late at night – it’s a fact of life now, but I really believe we need to leave our brains relax and switch off. The world won’t end if you don’t read what Joey Barton thinks about world politics.
Pack your bags
If the mild sunny weather continues this week, it could be a spectacular weekend in the Kingdom. The photos from last year, of the runners rising above the low cloud cover below Strickeen, was one of my motivations to race KAR this year. Pack your bags early – check the mandatory kit, fix your bike so that all the gears are working smoothly and you have your pedals/shoes/helmet ready. Be ready for cold/wet weather – it can change quickly down an Ríocht (Trust me, I’ve spent enough wet summer holidays down there!)
The night before, try to get to Killarney early. As for nutrition, I think people make too much of this and eat TOO much before a race. Listen, just eat good food on Friday, drink plenty of water and Saturday morning have a light breakfast. Beetroot juice is my only tip (legal EPO they call it!). The best marathon training advice I got was to go easy on breakfast, so you’re not bloated or wasting energy digesting food during the race. By 7am, be done with your breakfast – I’d recommend something like scrambled or poached eggs, coffee and a slice of toast. Maybe a banana and some honey before the race, but that’s enough. On the course, water on the bike and a few gels or bars, but you’re not hiking up Mount Everest, so don’t bring enough for a picnic. That’s for after!