Sunday 25 February 2018

In summertime race preparation means get ready to party

Electric dreams: the Picnic can cap a well-planned season.
Electric dreams: the Picnic can cap a well-planned season.

Deirdre Hassett

Time was; you were guaranteed weekend satisfaction as long as you got hold of the magic ticket. You can date yourself easily by the first coming-of-age music festival.

Féile (the Trip to Tipp), anyone? Twenty or so years later and instead of clutching a warm can of cider while watching little-known Mancunian bands pogo in the rain, you're at home cleaning the drivetrain of your very expensive bicycle with a toothbrush. Okay, so things aren't as dire as that.

Once you get over the age when it still seems like fun to eat cornflakes with beer and have emerged unscathed on the other side, triathlons or adventure races are great ways to spend your weekend working up an appetite for a party on Saturday night.

For years now, I've based many of my summer party weekends away in Ireland around romping through an adventure race or triathlon with friends, usually with a celebratory dinner, drinks and often a bit of dancing afterwards (flat shoes a must).

Choose your race wisely for the best post-race parties. There are some events held in towns where it's always party season (the Galway Aquathon, or the King of the Hill Triathlon in Kinsale) and some which nicely coincide with a summer festival in the town (the Salmon Run triathlon in Ballina).

And every off-road adventure race seems to have a rip-roaring after-party; Gael Force in Westport being of course the Daddy of all Irish adventure races and associated parties.

The Hell of the West triathlon in Kilkee, which has been running since 1985, is the quintessential Irish triathlon festival. Maybe because it's in a small seaside town, there is always a party mood the day before as athletes arrive into town, a sense of anticipatory convergence to a great weekend of fun.

Once the small matter of the race, an Olympic distance triathlon with glorious views, is done, athletes converge to the old-school after-party in the Kilkee Bay Hotel, complete (wedding style) with band, DJ, and hordes of men in Hawaiian shirts.

Of course, if you plan your race season correctly, you can finish it with a weekend at the Electric Picnic, without a single stroke of swimming or hill climb needed to earn your gourmet burger.

Twitter: @Deirdrehassett

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