The story begins
The story of Killary Gaelforce began in 2006. Director of Killary Adventure Company and lifelong adventurer Jamie Young, supported by Failte Ireland and others, brought his dream of hosting the largest one day adventure race in Europe to life. Gaelforce West as it is now known came to be the number one adventure race in Ireland to complete. Over 3000 participants crossed the line in 2010 alone.
An adventurous story
Having sailed single-handed across the Atlantic and retraced Shackleton's journey to St Georgia among other ventures Jamie understood the need for adventure that burned in many people. Not every effort Jamie and his team made was successful but undaunted they continued to innovate and expand the calendar of adventure events. A longer team version of Gaelforce West (Gaelforce 12) and a 24hr cycle race were tried and deemed too ambitious at the time.
Gaelforce Events is created
2009 saw the inception of Gaelforce Events to bring the events under one umbrella and to create a strong and recognisable brand and each year from then new events were added to the calendar.
2010 - 2012 Busy times
2010 saw the Connemara Adventure Challenge (a sprint adventure race) and the Turf Guy Challenge (an obstacle race through the Connemara bog) take off to great success. These were unique events for the Irish adventure scene at the time.
2011 was the first year of another major adventure race, this time in Donegal. With a stunning setting and fantastic natural challenges Gaelforce North was another chance for the growing community of adventure racers to test themselves. A sprint distance event was added to Gaelforce North in 2012 to cater for the less experienced racer.
In 2012 the Bray 10km Trail Blazer brought runners on a trail and beach run along the cliffs of Bray Head on a spring evening. This unique 10km run, now the Bray 10km Cliff Run, has proven a sell-out event. There was even a party afterwards to inject that sociable feel to the evening!
Later the same year Gaelforce Events went in a new and daring direction with an open water swim event in October, The Great Fjord Swim. Lucky to have the majestic setting of Killary Fjord on our doorstep we could not ignore the opportunity. This event now includes 3 distances and wetsuit and non-wetsuit options and continues to grow each year.
The mainly female management team at Gaelforce Events created two women-only adventure races in 2013 in Galway and 2014 in Wicklow. They understood what it would take to get more women to try adventure racing and they created the perfect environment to make this a reality. These are 2 very special events to this day which bring us back to the reasons we started all of this.
The Turf Guy toughened up in 2013 as it became the Turf Warrior and much ingenuity and expense was invested in making this a superior obstacle course, now featured on Ireland’s Fittest Families.
Killary Gaelforce - part of the Killary family
We rebranded in 2015 and became Killary Gaelforce emphasising the position of Gaelforce as part of Killary Adventure Company. Yet another event was created, the Gaelforce Mountain Run, taking place in the mountains surrounding the home of Killary Gaelforce in Connemara. Experienced mountain runners were attracted by the unmarked routes and generous prize money.
Last year (2016) saw two very exciting events take place for the first time – a night cycle and a regular triathlon - both in Connemara. The Night Rider Sportif took place in April on a beautiful moonlit night and the Connemara Triathlon was launched in September.
The present and into the future
Already 2017 is looking action-packed with a total of 12 diverse events now scheduled to take place. Killary Gaelforce has also taken on the task of bringing a major adventure race to the capital city with entries already flooding in for Gaelforce Dublin on February 18th.
This has been a non-stop, whirlwind story of change, innovation, bravery and adventure through a recession and out the other side bigger and better than before. Killary Gaelforce has always had the aspiring adventure racer as its focus – the first timer, the person who just needs a little encouragement and self-belief, not just the experienced athlete. We have always wanted more people to get up and get out there; to improve their physical and mental wellbeing and achieve something amazing for themselves.
We are very excited about the future and we look forward to seeing you at one of our start lines soon.
Killary Gaelforce aim to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation. Read more about how we work with our competitors to protect the environment and leave no trace.