Thursday, 4 September 2008

Gael Force 2008 Report - Part 1

Well, I've been putting off writing this for a while now. I'm going to follow the format of my preview of the event. The results are up here. I finished 436 out of 682 finishers (just over 700 starters).

Registration: Day before
Went down to the bike transition the day before the event with one of the lads. Spirits were high and the hour trip was pretty much taken up with talk of how we'd do things in the event the following day. Arrived at Delphi around 2pm to find that we were one of the first few to register, so all things were going well. However, this was to end soon enough when we were told that the guy we were renting the bikes from hadn't arrived and that they had no idea when he'd be arriving! We'd been debating what to leave with the bikes all the way down in the car, as this would mean less weight we'd have to carry, so we weren't impressed to say the least.

We hung around there until 3.30pm or so and decided we'd have to leave. I knew I'd probably be back later that evening with one of my friends so it'd probably be alright, but we left our gear with the organisers to put with the bikes when they arrived just in case.

On the way back, we done a recce of the bike course...more on that later...

Registration: Day before (part two)
Got back to the registration area with my friend around 9pm. Met one or two of the other lads who were doing the event. Thankfully the bikes had arrived, so set them up for the next morning. Got back home pretty later (around midnight), considering I'd to catch the buses the next morning at 6am.

Buses: 6am
My brother woke me up at 5.10am (thankfully as I was out for the count) and dropped me back to Westport. Didn't see any of the lads I knew as I arrived as a few of the buses were already loaded. Just hopped on the next available bus. As I mentioned previously, I was in the Elite\Runner section and to say that I was out of my depth was probably a bit of an understatement. The lad I was sitting beside was a regular mountain runner but he was very encouraging and passed on some good info.

Settled in for the 1hr trip to the start line. Had a bottle of energy drink and an energy bar (this was breakfast after all). Arrived at the start line and met up with the lads. It was starting to drizzle a little bit, but weather wasn't the worst. We hung around at the start line for a while (no more than 10-15 mins and after a brief race briefing and prayer, we went down to the beach and the start line.

Stage 1: 12km beach\road\trail run
There was only about 100m of beach running (hardly worth starting it there I guess) and we got onto a small but hilly road for about 3km. I was determined to take it easy on the hills, so when the first hill came almost immediately, I slowed to a walking pace to conserve energy. I wasn't the only one, but I was definitely at the back of the group.

I got to the end of the road section as probably the third last person in the wave. The next section was quite a steep and slippy x-country hill section. This was immediately energy sapping and a slow walk was the best I could muster here. I caught up with two people here.

Going down this steep hill on the opposite side was actually worse than the ascent. It was treacherous in places, really muddy, slippy, etc. Eventually made it down, again catching up with another two people.

Most of the remainder of the run was a relatively flat off-road run along Killary harbour which I found extremely enjoyable. I kept pace with the people I'd caught up with and persisted with my walking up hills strategy.

By the time we got to the kayaks I'd caught another few people and I was really enjoying myself. Overall, I could have probably pushed myself a bit harder on this section, but not knowing what was to come, I felt it best to take a cautious approach.
Estimated time: 1hr 24mins
Actual Time: 1hr 37m 29s

Transition 1: Run -> Kayak
I'd a very short transition here as there was a lad ready to go, stopping briefly to refill my water bottle.

Stage 2: 2km kayak
I had hoped to keep my feet dry on this event, but that was already out the window on the previous run section. It was certainly out the window at this point...I had to drag the kayak into the water.

My friend for the trip was a guy called Dan. Very nice guy and had obviously kayaked before. I hope I didn't annoy him too much. I found this pretty tough, especially on the upper legs and had to briefly stop at least once. We kept bearing to the right which didn't really help. Was glad to get this over with.
Estimate time:
Actual time: 9m 32s

Transition 2: Kayak -> Run
As you can see below, I saved a considerable amount of time over this section that what I was expecting. I was probably a bit slow getting out of the boat on the opposite side though. I also got a bit confused as to where we'd to go after we got off the kayaks, in the end simply following my Kayaking buddy.

Stage 3: 3km road run
This wasn't a road run for the first km, that's for sure. Stayed with Dan for most of this but he seemed to be struggling a bit and overtook him. Came to a dead end in a field and he caught up to me again. We eventually figured out the way up to the road. It was around this point that the first of the next wave started to pass us!

Got on the road and got into a run \ walk strategy. This section wasn't too bad, but I was looking forward to getting on the bike. A few more people from the 2nd wave passed at this point.

Estimated time:
24 mins
Actual Time: 32m 17s

Going to leave the report there for now. Hopefully the second part will follow soon.

1 comment:

Matthew James Stanham said...

Very interesting read! I can imagine it all very clearly. I am looking forward to reading the rest.