The Challenge

Where do I start? In a moment of madness last December, Colm, JJ and I agreed to take on the Gaelforce Events 2018 calendar in the hopes of raising vital funds for Pieta House. This includes all 10 events, from adventure racing, to night cycling and even swimming across Killary Fjord! I knew it would be challenging, but I’m not sure I understood quite how much!

Gail with JJ and Colm just before the Bray 10 km Cliff race

The Charity

Pieta House is a charity close to our hearts. Mental health issues and suicide has effected both family and friends,  and so if we can raise enough money, and awareness to help just one person, just one family, from suffering then this will have been all worth while. We have set up a fundraising page here https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/gailforce-adventure-challenge-2018 but we also have sponsorship cards if anyone would like to donate to our cause. Sponsorship of any size if greatly appreciated, every cent counts!

The Charity

Pieta House is a charity close to our hearts. Mental health issues and suicide has effected both family and friends,  and so if we can raise enough money, and awareness to help just one person, just one family, from suffering then this will have been all worth while. We have set up a fundraising page here https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/gailforce-adventure-challenge-2018 but we also have sponsorship cards if anyone would like to donate to our cause. Sponsorship of any size if greatly appreciated, every cent counts!

Where are we now?

We started out this challenge in February with Gaelforce Dublin, not knowing quite what to expect I found this race pretty tough. Our fitness levels were pretty good, but I got my nutrition all wrong and really struggled to finish out the 10km run, honestly I thought I would never get to the top! Lessons were learned though and I have definitely improved nutrition wise race on race. (although I’m not sure jelly tots count as nutrition).

Next up was the Gaelforce Mountain run. This required a pretty early start for us and we headed from Portlaoise to Killary Adventure Centre and there was talks of divorce and defriending on route. Suffering from a chest infection, I took the ‘easier’ Introductory Mountain Run. I’ll be honest, I found this a really enjoyable race, I took it handy and didn’t put myself under any pressure time wise and I finished feeling strong. JJ took on the Intermediate route and didn’t speak to me for some time after.

At the end of March came the Bray 10km Cliff Run. I was really looking forward to this, a 10km run – ‘easy’ I thought, in comparison to what we had previously done! Roll on my 3rd work trip to the USA in 3 months and arriving home the morning of the race, not so easy now! This was a stunning course, and had I been able to keep my eyes open (I look like I’m sleep running in the photos) I’m sure I would have enjoyed it immensely.

 

Then we had the Night Rider Sportiff. Unfortunately, at this point Colm was injured and no longer able to join us on our challenge, so JJ and I took off on a sunny afternoon and made the long drive to the West. What can I say, from the course to the weather, Killary Gaelforce got it spot on. 70km whizzed by with beautiful scenery, hills, mountains, lakes and the icing on the cake, a starry sky and beautiful bright big moon.

Following swiftly after the Night Rider Sportiff was the Connemara Adventure Challenge. As parts of this bike course were off road the amazing Connemara Adventure Tours kindly stepped in and got me up and running on a trail bike so a huge shout out to those guys! This was an excellent course, and having done the Mountain Run back in March I was well prepared for the challenge ahead. Again Killary Gaelforce pulled out all the stops and the weather was perfect racing conditions. This time my nutrition was slightly out, I may have eaten one too many Jelly Tots, I woke with a sugar hangover the next day, I do love my Jelly Tots though.

Finally, I’m happy to say I have just completed our 6th challenge – Gaelforce West! Colm is still out of action and JJ unfortunately had other commitments for that date so I headed off to the starting line alone. I had previously shared my nerves with Bridget around this and she said ‘You will not be alone, we will be there with you’ and this couldn’t have been more true. From the moment I got on to the bus I felt part of something special. The comradery, friendship and kindness displayed by the Gaelforce West participants was something to behold. Everyone was in this together, crossing the finish line was the goal, and we would all get there, eventually!

Gail and her team at Gaelforce Dublin 2018

Gaelforce West has been my toughest challenge to date. The weeks leading up to the race were not ideal, training took a back seat as I travelled to Wales for a family funeral and then to the USA for another work trip. Arriving home on Friday morning, body clock all out of sync, sleep evading me, I was nervous. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy, nerves kick in and I can’t get outside of my head. Driving up to Westport that Friday I was speaking to Colm about my nerves, how I was starting to feel sick, emotions were running high, when my 7 year old told me, ‘Sometimes I feel like that too Mummy and it’s OK. You know you’re able to do it, and we’ll be there to cheer you on’ He got me to the start line on Saturday morning!

Once again, Killary Gaelforce pulled out all the stops weather wise, what a smashing day! The scenery on route was amazing and kept us going through the first 13.5km run. Kayaking up next and this lovely guy from Newfoundland joined me as we crossed the Fjord, I’m not sure what his name was, but a big shout out to him, his words of encouragement got me to the bike transition. Connemara Adventure Tours supplied the bike for me again this time, sincere thanks to them! By the time I got to Croagh Patrick I was exhausted. I doubted if I could complete the challenge and was extremely tempted to skip that section. I knew my husband was tracking me and so text him to tell him I’d had enough, I wasn’t sure I could go on. He phoned. Himself and my two boys (6 & 7) had climbed to the top of Croagh Patrick to help encourage and motivate me to finish it out – I have an amazing family! 7hours and 40mins later I finished my first Gaelforce West Adventure Race.

Gail during Gealforce Dublin

What’s next?

Up next is Gaelforce North. This time there will be no travel beforehand, I aim to get my training program right and proper nutrition (not Jelly Tots) will be key. I’d love to set myself a goal for this race, but I’ll be honest, have completed 6 out of the 10 challenges with no goal in mind, only to cross the finish line, has been pretty liberating!

If anyone would like to join us on the remaining challenges we’d love to hear from you, you can follow our progress over on Facebook / Instagram or Twitter and remember you can sponsor us here https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/gailforce-adventure-challenge-2018

 

Best of luck to Gail and her squad from all of us at Killary Gaelforce!

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