Glenmalure Race report

By Barry Dempsey


My first Experience of Team Adventure Racing was in Glenmalure, Co Wicklow

Hi, I’m Barry and I have been a Solo Adventure Racer in Ireland since 2011 and over 50 races in, I’m still going. It’sfor the physical challenge, the amazing locations, the sense of achievement and of course the people involved are ok too! I also might take the odd photo during the races 😊I could talk all day on any of the above topic but that’s not what I wasasked to share today. This is my race report, on my first Team Adventure Race in Glenmalure a few weeks ago.

Over the years, I was always aware of International team events going back to the Eco Challenge on tv and thought, wow that’s unreal. I would like to do such an event and to represent your country would be even better. In the past I never really had any idea where to even start and now because of a doggy knee, it will only even be a dream for me to even think about entering an International Team Event, but in the future you could have the opportunity.

After 12 years on the solo scene, I finally got the chance to enter a team adventure race this year. Over the last few years especially and after recently making even more new friends on the solo scene, I started to hear more about the team adventure races in Ireland and thought ok, I would like to give a team race a go. I was afraid of the distance because of my knee and would I have to do an orienteering course first? But I was wrong on both accounts and entered the trial team adventure race in Glenmalure and there was nothing to be afraid of once I had a little more information on the eventafter talking to experienced racers like Paul Mahon and Lorraine Horan.

I teamed up with Ollie Kirwan from Quest to form team Red Quest, we were like minded on what our aims were and that was, to enjoy the event and finish in the time allowed of course. We all like to plan our solo races in our own way depending on the event, is it bike heavy, is it run heavy, what is the distance, what gear will I wear and of course, what will the weather be? So preparing for the team race was just like any other race, just needed a little more of everything and we had to plan the route on the map so we didn’t get lost in the Wicklow Mts. We were doing the endurance 6 hour event and planned to hit all the mandatory checkpoints with a few bonus checkpoints were possible. Arriving in Wicklow we got our gear together, sorted out the bikes, and a first for us, was using the mountain bikes and not the road bikes which was a great novelty and something very new to me and Ollie only picked up his bike the day before. Once we had the extra gear ready to go, we were on the start line and it was time to start.

Once all the teams headed off for the first mandatorycheckpoint and transition area, I had to remember, we had to stay together, which was new for me and watch our time to see how long it would take to get from one point on the map to the next. We got through the first 3 stages without too much difficulty. Stage 4 started at the Shay Elliot recreation area, it was going to be the first big challenge and the first big decision on whether we could make it to the summit and get 2 bonus checkpoints. We made it and there was a lovely moment, when 4 teams hit the summit together, we all slightly spread out heading south through the heather and as we headed over the brow, the silhouettes of the teams stood out against the sky and with the mountains in the distance it just looked amazing and possibly my moment of the race(and I did get a picture) once we got back on the bike we had our first off road section which was great fun but then we had a killer of a long climb up Slievemane, which on mountain bikes did feel like it went on forever. Once we arrived at TA 3 after making the decision to miss 4 bike bonuses to make sure we hit the mandatory check point on the highest point of Croaghanmoira at 664m it would turn out to be a very wise decision.

Michael Dowling was half way up the climb to give us some much needed support and he had the camera to get the action shots. We were working really well together and now the advantage of been in a team was really going to pay off to get through the last hour. I had helped Ollie on Slievemane but this time on the climb I needed Ollie to help me get to the top as my quads started to cramp. It was very wet and windy at the summit and so windy it actually almost blow me over as the legs had worked so hard to get there.

But now we were on the home stretch as we got back onto the bikes and heading into an amazing downhill section to Glenmalure before we had our final decision to make before the finish line. Can we get the 3 bonus checkpoints on a very teasing optional final loop in sight of the finish line? We had time and went for it, we got the first one and went for the second, as the clock counted down to the 6 hour cut off, the race was on. It was all uphill, so we knew we could get down fast so we went through one gate, then another and then at the third gate it was decision time … risk it and push on or go to the finish??? Could we get it on foot??? Was it 20 meters or 100meters away??? We looked at the time and decided we had to go fast, back down the hill, opening and closing alternate gates, would we make it in time??? Yes with 4 minutes to spare we made it 😊 😊(We learned after we were only meters from the checkpoint aaahhhh)

What a day, what an event, I did think I wouldn’t be able to do 6 hours and would it be a long day??……but no, the time flew and we would have stayed out all day. The orienteering part of the event was very enjoyable and being out in the mountains exploring made it even better.

Will I do another Team Adventure Race? Most definitely YES and would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of entering a race, to just go ahead and do it, as soon as you can, especially if you are a Solo Adventure Racer.

A huge thank you to my team mate Ollie on team Red Quest. Paul Mahon, Michael Dowling and everyone who helped run a great event.

Adventure Racing Competitor

Barry Dempsey