Is it possible or do I need to be an athlete?
The reality is you need to be fit. There is no point thinking you can cover 66km of countryside under your own power if you do not prepare. However you do not need to be a finely-tuned athlete, you need to be somewhere in between. Gaelforce West is challenging yes, but possible. Here is some advice on times involved and what you need to prepare for as a first timer:
The winners do the entire race in around 3.5 hours. The average time for contestants is approximtely 6.5 hours. You should be able to finish the race in less than 8 hours. If you take any longer, you will miss the cut-off time for Croagh Patrick (14:00), missing the last section of the race.
The first run - 13.5km
You must remember that this is an adventure race, so expect mud and lots of it. The mud tends to slow the pace down in comparison to other surfaces. If you are planning to walk instead of run you should be able to walk 13.5km at a continuous fast pace and complete it in under 2hrs.
The dreaded Killary kayak - 1km
This is a misplaced dread. The boats we use are called sit-on-top kayaks. Instead of sitting in to a boat you sit on top making them incredibly safe. They are also very easy to paddle even if this is your first time. They are two-man boats so there will be another competitor with you.
Back on dry(ish) land - 4km
Next is a 2.5 km run through boggy ground and then a final 1.5km on a narrow road. You should be able to do this section in 40 mins.
The first cycle - 32km
This cycle is through some of the most spectacular scenery you will see in Ireland. Expect steep uphills, scary downhills, winding corners and one or two pot holes! You should be able to do this in around 2.5hrs.
Mighty Croagh Patrick - 4.5km
This can be a technical downhill, if you are looking for a competitive time. But remember, people of all ages go up and down this mountain each year. There is a path up and down it which is recommended. You may think when you get to the bottom that going straight up looks quicker...it is not. It is very steep and will suck energy out of you which you will need for the sprint finish. You should be able to do this in 2 hours.
The final cycle - 11km
Finally the cycle into town. This section encompasses a tricky off-road bit (expect to walk your bike through some of this unless you are a skilled mountain biker) and then the mostly downhill cycle to Westport Quay. You should be able to do this in around 1hr.
The last few metres from the bike-drop to the finish-line. It may feel like the longest journey of your life, but think of the elation as you cross the line.
So that is the race. Are you fit enough?
Six months is enough time to go from couch potato to being able to do the race in under 8 hours. You will not get fit however by thinking about it - you must do it! Take a look at our training plan to get you started.
We recommend you contact your doctor before you start your training to ensure you have no medical conditions that may be aggravated by your training. Ask your doctor about your heart rate and what level he recommends you should train at (especially if you are overweight). Get used to taking your own heart rate or buy a monitor.
Finally best of luck and remember... Life is not a spectator sport!
It may be your first Gaelforce West but you can still dream big! Read 1st place finisher Luke McMullan Gaelforce West 2018 - A View from the Front for some extra inspiration.