THIS SATURDAY MORNING will see the Race return to Donegal.
It’s a 250km event – that incorporates running, kayaking, cycling as well as scampering up and down Muckish – that must be completed inside of 24 hours.
The third staging takes place this Saturday, starting at Gartan Outdoor Education Training Centre at 5am.
- The Race - a stage by stage guide
- Stage 1 is a 22km jog from Gartan to Ramelton before Stage 2 – a 15km kayak on Rathmullan. Stage 3 is the first of two cycles, some 96km from Rathmullan over Knockalla to the Atlantic Drive, over Lough Salt and into the base of Muckish.
Stage 4 then is a 5km scramble up and down Muckish before Stage 5 means it’s time to get back on the bike for 68km from Muckish around the Bloody Foreland and back to Doochary. Then, to finish, there’s a full marathon back to Gartan via Glenveagh National Park.
One thing that everyone asks: “Who the hell thought that up?”
Coleraine native David Burns, a 31-year-old graduate in Business and Marketing from UCD, used to spend his boyhood summers on Eighter Island, just off Burtonport.
Since then he’s travelled the world for charity but when he and his friend and fellow adventurer Maghnus Collins from Limerick entrusted themselves with establishing Ireland’s first true endurance race, Burns could join the dots in his head.
“I would know Donegal fairly well having spent so much time there growing up,” he said. “I knew the Dungloe and Gweedore areas would be perfect. It’s a side of Ireland that not a lot of people know about and the westerly wind and hills made it the perfect place.”
In Janaury 2013, Burns and Collins completed the ‘Silk Roads to Shanghai’, a mammoth unsupported 16,000km journey that had started in Istanbul almost 11 months beforehand (pictured above).
They cycled to Kathmandu via Turkey, Iran, India and Nepal before trekking by foot over the Tibetan Plateau to the source of the Yangtze River and by kayak onto Shanghai.
The Yangtze stretched was understood never to have been passed by kayak before.
Watch the Silk Roads to Shanghai documentary below …
In 2010, Burns and Collins completed the gruelling 250km Sahara Race (pictured below) over five days in temperatures that reached 44 celsius.
The year beforehand, 2009, they cycled to Ireland from Cape Town, South Africa. It was a journey of 17,500km that took 11 months to complete.
Collins and Burns set off last June on the Swim 360 – Swim Around Ireland, which they plan to finish having completed almost three-quarters of the island (pictured below).
All these escapades were completed for Self Help Africa a charity that works with rural communities to help them improve their farms and their livelihoods.
“Maghnus and I have completed a few long expeditions made up of running, cycling and kayaking,” Burns added. “One of those was a run across the Sahara and with something like that, the real achievement in getting to the finish line.
“Ireland didn’t have an event like that so we thought we would establish one.”