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Blackstairs Adventure Race – 5th May 2013

Blackstairs adventurers, PJ, Mike, Barry, DavidT, Alan and Jim. Click for more pics.

[Report by David Tully]

This was a fantastic event. Yes the memory of the pain has faded and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The day started off early, heading straight towards the bike drop near Ballymurphy, then back to Rathnure for registration.
Rathnure GAA complex was base and was well set up. There were nearly as many marshalls as entrants, with an array of motorbikes and quads at the ready.
795 out in force, with our own personal team motorbike rider James along for the day!

The race was 7 steps: 10.5k run, 9k cycle, 3k kayak, 25k cycle, mountain run 6.5k, 11k cycle, 1k run
After looking at previous results, I thought 4:30 was achieveable. Then looked again – 4:30 would’ve been 8th overall last year – not achieveable!
4:45 maybe..

Jim had a plan – Alan, Jim and I would run the first 10.5k leg together, then cycle into Graiguenamanagh as a group.
We lined up at the start line – announcer blamed the Germans for the state of the roads and we were off!
Mike and PJ went off like bullets. Team795 stuck to a steady pace. Barry saw the logic in pacing ourselves for what was going to be a long day and stuck with us. James was cruising up and down the road, giving us updates on Mike and PJ’s progress as well as encouraging us along the way.
Barry ran with us for the first 8k of climbing, until the track started descending. Off Barry went like a mountain goat, gaining 500 metres by the time we were at the bottom!
On the bikes then for the 2nd step and Jim, Alan and I ate up the road, passing 3 on the open road and another one at transition, which was 500m from the kayaks. Quick run over the bridge and down the quays and a team were there to don lifejacket, helmet and set you on your way in the kayak. Great to see Kate, Lorraine, kids and James all there in support!
Mike and Alan had the edge in the kayaks, bringing their own and a bit of previous experience made up valuable time. The lack of a turning buoy caught out most of the field, but it affected all, so no odds in the grand scheme of things. What was a 3k kayak turned into a 5k kayak.
Mike out of the water first and leading overall! PJ next, then Alan who had blitzed the kayak times and overtaken Barry. Jim and I were next out.

The 4th step was a road cycle from Graiguenamanagh to near Kiltealy, around the roads south of White Mountain. Jim warned me to take it easy on the climbs and not to push it. That worked until James came up alongside me with the update from the entire field, as well as pointing out that I was on the last big climb – so I stood up on the pedals drove it on. I saw no one on the 25k stage, hoped I hadn’t taken a wrong turn now and again also..

Arrived into transition – the only one with water. This race (maybe all adventure races ??) demands self sufficiency – can’t be handed food or drink. I deliberately finished off the second bottle coming in knowing this. off the bike and started to run. I could see someone a few hundred metres up the road, walking. Passed him and on up the road. On the steeper sections of fire road, I met another competitor who was struggling – passed him too. Such a novel feeling, passing people!
Up on the open mountain then and a 3rd, down with cramp. On I went, the long distance MTB spins paying dividend now that I was approaching 4 hours. On the toughest part of the run/climb I noticed it was 1:42 and Joy should be wrapping up her marathon in Limerick in the coming minutes. Great distraction thinking about how the marathon was going, what the finish line would be like etc. Anything but climbing this bloody mountain! 4th competitor in my sights now, trying to stretch out a cramp! On to the top now and across lumpy heather and hidden rocks, then down through fields to transition again. James at transition with a load of marshalls and well wishers. Update from James – where’s Alan – gone, where’s Barry – gone.. I get the picture.
Alan had a strong cycle and had kept ahead of Barry, who found a group partner on the road and powered over to Kiltealy. Barry had a strong run and had passed Alan on it.

6th step and back on the bike – so good to be sitting on a bike again! Only thing was a headwind to contend with. James encouraging on the motorbike alongside as I reach Rathnure. Land in Rathnure GAA, drop the bike and the run is around their pitches.
Wasn’t sure the legs were going to work but there was no way I was walking – I could see the 795 colours at the finish line.
Big 795 crowd there, with the organisers laying on an array of activities and bbq. Great to run down the home stretch with the kids running alongside.

Mike 3rd overall – fantastic result!. PJ 5th and would have been on the podium if he had used Mike or Alan’s kayak.
Barry finished strongly next in 13th, followed in by Alan in 15th. I finished in 18th overall, in a time of 4:38 – delighted with the time and overall race.

Thanks to the organisers for putting on such a well run and enjoyable event – I’ll be doing this again next year and am looking at other adventure races also.
Thanks also for all the support on what was my first adventure race. First multi disciplined race actually – never did anything involving changing from run to bike to whatever before.

To answer David Furlong’s questions – we all wore runners, mandatory kit is a grey area and Barry can run down a mountain the same as he can cycle down one.

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