THE RACE WILL roll out of Gartan Outdoor Education Training Centre at 5am on Saturday for the third staging of Ireland’s first 24-hour endurance event.
In as grueling a test of mind and body as can be flat-packed into one day, competitors must complete the 250km course inside of a day.
Photo caption: Martin Christie and John Mulrooney from Sligo on last year’s first cycle stage of the Race. Photo: Paul Doherty
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 Glenveigh National Park.
Last year, Letterkenny native Sean McFadden won the Race in a time of 15 hours and five minutes. However, he will not be taking part this year and recently took part in a Donegal Sport Hub podcast on the Race with event organiser David Burns.
On the official entry list, here’s all the competitors from Donegal. Bios courtesy the Race.
The 47-year-old Milford native completed the Race in its first year but had the dismount last year near Meenlaragh on the second cycle. Since that night almost a year ago, McMahon’s Team Donegal Oil – where he teamed up with last year’s winner of the Race Sean McFadden, as well as Gavin Harris and Michael McGarvey – came third in the Race Around Ireland cycle.
When you live in Dunfanaghy the shadows of Muckish aren’t ever too far away and Sterritt as been building steadily up to the Race. He has built up quite a portfolio to date with events in Donegal like the Cancer Coastal Challenge, Gaelforce North, Inishowen 100 mile cycles and the Hills of Donegal 100 mile cycle, having also completed the Dublin marathon twice.
Good is from Ramelton and admits to be a late starter – his mid-thirties – before getting into serious training. Having started running six years ago, cycling came next. At 43, Good has seen a number of his contemporaries participate in the Race and admits he wants to test himself against what Donegal can offer, having completed in WAAR (the Wild Atlantic Adventure Race) last year in west Donegal.
John Magee from Dungloe watched his brother Alan take on the Race in 2014 – following him from early morning to the start of the marathon leg – and is trying it himself this time out. A grandfather, truck/bus driver and a part-time Student in North West Regional Ccollege Derry, Magee admits to being attracted to the endurance events having set himself the goal of participating ahead of training through autumn and winter.
The Letterkenny native is the owner of Adventure One Surf School, based out of Rathmullan, where Stage 2 of the Race will end and the daunting cycle on Stage 3 begins. Daly has taken part in a number of adventure races in the north-west, like GaelForce North, the Mulroy Bay adventure race and the Letterkenny 24/7 Gartan Triathlon and admits his goal this weekend is to finish the Race in his first attempt.
As one of the organisers of The Mulroy Bay Adventure Races, Hunter knows the local scene well. This time alst year he was nursing a hamstring injury going into the Race and by his own admission, it was a case of “thickness and stubbornness over fitness.” The Cranford native did make it around the course but was 31 minutes outside of the 24 hours. Therefore, he’ll be gunning for this year’s event.
Diver is based in Dublin but seeing he’s a native of Gweedore he felt the Race was for him having built his way up towards it for the last 10 years. In recent times, he’s taken part in events like Malin to Mizen cycle, which took place in September 2015, the Wicklow 200 cycle 2015, Gaelforce North, various half marathons, and the Jet Ski around Ireland in 2011.
Having lost his mother to cancer, Brian Ward, who is based in Letterkenny, began to concentrate his efforts into gather money for charity, namely Cancer Research Donegal Hospice. Ward has completed the Omagh half marathon, the Derry marathon twice, the Dublin marathon twice, the Letterkenny marathon twice. Standard triathlons. Olympic triathlons. Half Iron man and the Monaghan back-to-back marathons in 2015.
Originally from Ballyraine, Letterkenny, 42-year-old Callaghan originally took up adventure racing four years ago. Always a keen cyclist, he formed the Tir Chonaill Wheelers in the Race Around Ireland last September completed the two-man event almost single-handedly after his teammate Mickey Rodgers had an Achilles injury. He was sixth male in the Race in 2014 with 19 hours and 20 minutes and then 13th male last year in 20:24:43.
Rodgers has been road cycling, mountain biking, running and kayaking north Donegal for as long as he can remember and the native of Kerrykeel felt it was a logical progression to sign up for the Race. He has a high level of experience having completed primarily in numerous cycling sportives – Tour de Conemara and the cycle from Dublin to Milford in one day.
Kelly is taking part in the Race for the first time and as a native of Downings, he will practically be cycling past his front door on Stage 3. Having watched on for the last two years, he has decided to take on the challenge this year himself. A fan of the outdoors, Kelly has taken part cycling sportive’s including Alps Brevet in Switzerland and Marmot in France.
Harris, from Convoy, has completed the Race in both of the last two years. Last year he clocked 20:08:11 for a 13th place finish and in 2014 it was ninth in 19 hours and 54 minutes in more favourable weather conditions. Helped Sean McFadden, Arthur McMahon and Michael McGarvey to third in the Race Around Ireland. Admits to being 18st 5lb on the scales in 2007 and began cycling initially just to lose weight.
Milford native Coll was another man who originally began taking up things like cycling and running to simply lose weight. In 2011, he went from 18st to 12st in only six months as he got the bug. That was proven in when he clocked less than three hours in the first of his three marathons – two Dublin and one in Manchester – and he’s also cycled the 250km from Dublin to Milford. A first go at the Race.
With an address in Downings, Boyce will be looking for better luck this year and he got in 2015. Then, on the first cycle he was forced to retire when the chain on his bike broke. It promises to be a busy year a few adventure races pencilled in. He has also entered the Belfast and Dublin marathons and hopes to do an ultra marathon over the summer months.
Like many of the Donegal competitors, Connaghan felt the need to sign up for the Race because of the closeness of it to his homeplace, which is Arranmore Island. A member of Letterkenny 24-7 Triathlon Club, he was nominated for the Triathlete of the Year award at the recent Donegal Sports Star awards. He had huge experience, ranging from from 1,200km Audax Paris Brest Paris, marathons, 24-hour time trials to ironmen.
Kenny O’Donnell from Convoy is a member of Finn Valley Athletic Club, clocking 90-minute times for half-marathons as well as being an reasonably accomplished cyclist. For the last two years he’s stood on and watched the Race and that’s been enough to plant the seed and enter for the first time.
Lynch would’ve seen the kayaks being stacked in his hometown of Ramelton in each of the last two years – although last year the Stage 2 onto Rathmullan by water was shelved due to abnormally high winds. Like the other Donegal competitors, Lynch has worked his way up through the local events such as the Donegal Half Marathon and Gael Force North – as well as the – Dublin Marathon – and sees the Race as the ultimately challenge.
Kilmacrennan’s O’Donnell had kept himself in good shape since his college years but is now more interested in the endurance events. WAAR 2015, Donegal half Marathon 2014, Mulroy Bay Adventure Races, 23k and 46k have laid a good foundation for O’Donnell, who has also joined the Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club recently ahead of his biggest challenge to date.