It was an early start for two of the Swag Hut crew (Ger and Patrick) on the morning of Saturday 9th September, as they loaded their bikes and gear into their respective cars and headed to the beautiful shores of Lough Derg to embark on the Quest Lough Derg adventure race.
The importance of training (and organisation)
Ger will tell you that an important part of such events is the training leading up to it, Patrick would add that a good breakfast is also paramount:
Despite been up early for last year’s event I was rushing to get organised the morning of so the breakfast of toast and scrambled eggs was deposited into a plastic container to be eaten at the start line, a plan that heavily relied that I remembered to bring it with me (along with my water and gels) as I cycled the 2km from the event car park to the starting line.
With better organisation on both parts, the two met at the event car park (with plenty of time to spare and pre-fuelled) and rolled down the hill to the start line at Flanagan’s by the Lake.
As the two watched the waves ahead start they were eager to get going despite knowing the first half of the race on the Tipperary side included the formidable cycle up towards the Graves of the Leinsterman, a very, very steep incline.
It's not even 9am yet and there's some heat in that sun.
As noted by Ger, a warm day it was, having reach the top and dismounted the bikes to transition for the first running stage there were concerns all the sunscreen had been washed off by the copious amounts of sweat. Nether-the-less the two made it to that first running stage in very good time.
After that looped run the two found themselves back at the bike transition and it was time to start the third stage, or second cycle. Respite was offered in the form of gravity assistance, for the hill they previously climbed now presented its decline and a gradient that was realised by the speeds achieved freewheeling down.
By comparison to the previous climb up on the bike, which took approximately 35 minutes, the descent last only 4 minutes before the two were back on the rolling road which took them back to the starting area where they now had to disembark the bikes and run with them across the temporary pontoon bridge put in place for the event.
Once across the lake they now faced their fist stage on the Clare side of Lough Derg, a short cycle up the road to the next transition at Twomilegate - this time a 1km Kayak.
Stepping into the lake and wading out the board the approaching kayaks offered a chance to cool the legs down as the day had truly got hot at this stage.
After the 14 minutes paddling it was time to cross the road and start the penultimate run of the day up the Ballycuggaran trails. The Quest website tells no lies when it states:
This is a varied trail run on fire track, forest, and bog trail. It will be the toughest section on this route.
After a long grind up the hill (mix of walking, speed hiking and jogging) the two finally got to loosen the legs out and build up a bit of speed running down and back to the bikes.
At this stage the two were very close to home, with only a short cycle back to the bike area near the pontoon and a 1km run back across the bridge.
Knowing full well there were photographers and crowds (including some of the Swag Hut crew morale / support team) at the end of the bridge the two pulled back the shoulders, held their heads high and tried not to look as exhausted as they felt. Leaving enough in the tank for a sprint across the line, the two finished strong (it would appear - for the photos and video).
After collecting their medals (which they're still wearing - kidding! we told them to take them off!), they high fived colleagues and wasted no time getting stuck into Pizza's.
Fruit on Pizza FTW.
Looking back on the event Patrick said:
It's was my second time participating Quest Lough Derg and this year it was fantastic to be raising funds for Silver Arch, thank you to everyone who kindly donated to this cause.
Ger, for whom it was inaugural Quest (but having participated in similar events before) was very impressed by the location and organisation of the event:
There was a great buzz about the place...the location was spectacular, all the uphill sections reward you with their views from the top.
Fast forward to today
Ger and Patrick visited the team at Silver Arch FRC for a post event chat and to learn a little from about the team. Over coffee, tea and scones the two exchanged stories about Quest and learnt more about the Silver Arch team and how the funds raised would help their organisation provide essential services to its users.
Pictured aboved (left to right) Ger (Swag Hut), Rachel (Silver Arch), Patrick (Swag Hut) and Claire (Silver Arch) - and a big cheque thanks to all the kind donations.
Thanks to the supporters
Once again we'd like to thank everyone who donated to the fundraiser for Silver Arch FRC, we'd also like to thank the crew who turned up on the day to support the participants, we're hoping to put a team in again next year!