Last time out, down in Killarney, I walked across the finish line. Different circumstance in Glendalough, but same slow saunter under the Quests gantry. Shoulder to shoulder, chatting away to the man who’d been my target for the entire race.
I finished just 3 seconds off 3rd place, behind adventure race “veteran” Peter O’Farrell. That was after 3h13m and 57km of racing. We’d a super race down in Wicklow up and down mountains on roads, trails and water.
The build-up was good, with races every weekend for 5 weeks now. That left me a bit tired this week, so I eased off the intensity to let the body recover. I’d one bike recce last month so knew it would be a tough course, but with lots of running stages I was hoping to pull back time.
We headed off at 8am on a bright, fresh morning 2C in Laragh GAA field, so I wore my jacket and gloves. Sun cream too. My goal was to finish top 5 – I knew Dessie and Peter would be strong with Barry and a few dark horses sure to pop up. Cycling up Shay Elliott I felt good – probably off the bike in 6th and delighted to move up to 2nd on the first run. This felt good, with only Dessie out ahead.
I knew Peter would catch me on the bike. But it took a while. Brendan flew by going up Slieve Mann but Peter only flew by going past Augavanagh. He was in my sights throughout the gradual climb, so I felt happy. I thought I’d catch him on the second run but he held the gap – his descending beat mine on the mountain run. I knew the 17km bike ride back to Laragh would suit the cyclists – so I was happy that I held my position in 4th and still thought I’d claw back time on the 3rd run to the Upper Lake. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a sniff of Peter until the lake. I thought it was too late, he looked about 1 to 1.5 minutes ahead. But I went like a bullet on the last 1km down to the finish at Glendalough Hotel.
Suddenly I was closing fast. Remember Phil Healy in the 400m during the week? Well I’m not that fast, but with 400m to go I thought I have a chance. Peter didn’t look back so I hoped he’d plod along blissfully unaware of the danger. Yet at 100m to go he heard my loud footsteps and jolted forward. We reached the final dib station within seconds and he hung on. I was happy with my race – it’s always fun to have a battle.
I definitely could have made up seconds lost – getting my feet into pedal straps; racking my bike quicker; getting the dibber to bleep first time; or kayaking that little bit faster. But hey I’m sure Peter could have saved time too. No excuses from me.
After the race, the atmosphere was great. We got well fed wit hot stew, fruit, coconut water and non-alcoholic beer. A brutally painful massage on my calves was tough love, so after the hot tub and a chat I headed for home. Looking forward to the next race and happy we live in such a beautiful country. Wicklow really shone and Quest’s staff and volunteers did a super job. Full info on Quest Glendalough & Strava activity here.