Saturday 27 December 2014

Road, bog and river – an adventure race with a difference

Louise O'Hora previews a 40k race like no other – a unique shot at glory that utilises the magnificent, dramatic landscapes of Ireland's west coast.

Louise O'Hora

Published 08/07/2014 | 02:30

Tough: Competitors on the Race2Glory course
Gimme five: Louise Hora runs Race2Glory

Perhaps one good thing to come from the collapse of the Celtic Tiger was our newfound discovery and embrace of the world of adventure racing. There is no excuse for not participating as there are endless opportunities nationwide at any given time of the year to join in and see what all the fuss is about.

Finding an adventure race with a difference, however, can be a lot more challenging. Cue Race2Glory, a multi-disciplinary 40K adventure incorporating an unusual trilogy of roadway, bog and river.

This may sound like a bizarre combination but one which no doubt culminates in one of best adventure races this country has to offer.

As both a participant and spectator at this unique event in the past, I can safely say it is one you won't forget.

In its fourth successful year, Race2Glory is an impressive example of how community spirit, coupled with a very clever course design, can allow for a small town in the west of Ireland to host such a triumphant event annually with great success.

The brainchild of a small group of Kiltimagh natives who had the vision to exploit the local landscape, the course is designed by Ballinrobe native Padraig Marrey, a former winner of the well-known Gaelforce adventure race.

Each of the three stages offers something more intense than the last. The race begins with a challenging 10K run, which includes the infamous locally-named Spankers Hill. Notorious for its relatively short but steep ascent to 850ft, this is possibly the most testing part of the race, but the reward at the top is well worth the climb with spectacular views to Clare Island and the peak of Croagh Patrick on the horizon.

A quick journey across the bog – and rejuvenated by the breeze generated by the local wind turbines – sees a welcome descent and a chance for the more serious competitors to make up vital seconds. A couple of kilometres more and it is back to the second transition point and the start of stage two – a 23K cycle combining hilly and flat terrain and a second infamous feature of the course – Craggagh Hill. The choice of bicycle here could well be a deciding factor in succeeding to make the climb without dismounting. The third and final stage is a 7K run, some of which incorporates the local Glore River. Although some may be daunted by the thoughts of a river run, most competitors thoroughly enjoy this feature of the course.

If competing alone, one might deem the bogland of the West of Ireland a pretty lonely place. But this race is an example of community spirit at its best, and it is the collective effort of the Kiltimagh townland which makes this particular adventure race stand out. The sense of solidarity amongst this close-knit community is central to the success of the event. Coupled with some 80 official volunteers stationed at various points throughout the race, the remainder of the population come out in their droves to support the competitors at every given opportunity.

From the starting line, around every corner, along the roadside, in the bog holes, at the river bed and, of course, at the finish point, hundreds of locals, young and old, are proud to cheer on their own and strangers alike.

And those locals who are not cheering are busying themselves in other ways, from farmers offering their precious winter fodder as unwelcome obstacles on the course, to the local fire brigade and taxi drivers offering mini-showers en route.

A prize for the best water station is a nice incentive for families and young children to once again join together and design novel ways of providing that all important resource to the competitors.

And there is plenty to entice you to complete this challenge. In addition to receiving a specially designed medal, race participants can look forward to some well-deserved pampering at the finish line including massages and a tasty barbecue, all supplied and delivered free of charge by local professionals. Supporters can soak up the atmosphere too, with all ages catered for. There's even a bouncy castle and face-painting for children.

So if you are 16 or older and think you are up to the test, then register online at www.race2glory.com for an impressive €49 to receive your goody bag including a tech T-shirt and refreshments for the big race. For those of you who may be daunted by the length or nature of the course, a relay option is available at €120, which allows for up to three people to take part in one of each of the three different stages – an ideal opportunity for those new to adventure racing, or a novel way for friends and families to soak up the atmosphere of such an event.

The afternoon starting time of 1pm allows those travelling long distances plenty of time to get there that morning, sparing the expense of an overnight stay.

Just an hour from Galway and Sligo, two hrs and 15 minutes from Liffey Valley, and 20 minutes from Ireland West Airport Knock will see you arrive at your destination so excuses not to sign up are limited.

Come and witness the excitement and thrills of Race2Glory for yourself on Saturday July 12. It's an experience not to be missed.

Don’t forget to pick up FIT Magazine every Monday with the Irish Independent. And you can now join in online at www.FITMagazine.ie for all the tips, race reports, advice and stories from the fitness world.

And join us for the FIT Magazine City Series 5k/10k down in Cork on Sunday July 13th. Great prizes, goodie bags and all levels welcome. Sign up here

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