Achill Roar Adventure Race 7th September 2013

So we landed in Keel Sandybanks Caravan Park, Achill Island, on a beautiful sunny Friday evening. We explored our surroundings and took in the breath-taking scenery; both nervous and excited with what lay ahead of us the next day - The Achill Roar adventure race.  Adventure racing is still very new to us, so I suppose this adds to the anticipation as well.

BUT...the weather changed.

Tornado like winds howled down the mountain behind us and tsunami like waves swept up the beach in front of us. We were caught in the middle … in a caravan!!!

Very little sleep was had that night and the next morning we were just pleased that the van was still in an upright position. We opened the curtains and checked for signs of damage… nope… all was in order.  Phew!

We went to check out the transition area for the bikes. There we found out, to our great disappointment, that the water section was cancelled due to extremely high winds. (This was our forte). Ah well, thankful that the run and cycle were going ahead we got organised and put the waterproofs on, left the comfort of our sheltered umbrellas, then headed for the start line.

Quick race briefing and then the gun went for the start of the Sport Course which consisted of 1300m Kayak (cancelled), 8K run and 22k cycle.  

Stage 1 - The Run

Flora mentioned that in all her years running, it never rained while she ran a race.  I was hoping this was going to be one of those races too as the rain was particularly cold with a mean streak prior to the race start. (How did she get away with that anyway?) The rain held off for the start of the run, over the dunes then down along the beautiful sandy beach. The shortest route was along the shore so naturally we bee-lined for this course.  Feet were wet and a few girly whoops let out when the ground level underneath the pools of water were misjudged, but it was such a nice run this had no negative effect. The wind was at our backs too so we were carried along nicely and worked up to a fast pace. But then at around the 3k mark our confidence took a slight knocking … we saw the mountain in front of us.  Yes, we did have to climb it. A boggy, rocky, steep trail up to the turnaround point, the girly whoops turned to a more masculine type of grunt at this stage.   Then, it was if a switch was turned on after we faced back down the mountain.  Smiles returned to our faces.  A quick look at the view then back down the mountain and woohooo…. we bombed down the mountain like goats on red bull! One little mishap on the way down where a gentleman commented that the way Assumpta fell, you'd be forgiven for thinking she was a ballerina! (We still don't know whether that was a compliment or not).  Then we were back on the beach again and knew we only had 3k to go to the bike transition. Wind against us and the rain started again but no matter, we soldiered on with the end of the run stage in our sights getting nearer and nearer as we picked up the pace again.

Stage 2 - The Cycle

Where do we even begin?! Rain, wind, SLEET, hills, more rain, more wind, more SLEET, more hills. We had to peddle like mad to get DOWN the hills because of the wind and all the while dodging and swearing at the sheep who were looking at us like we were lunatics! (I learned a lot from Flora today.  I learned how to use profanities properly.  I was impressed the way they rolled off her tongue and equally impressed with the phrases she put together - girly whoops were a distant memory).  Soaked through, we thought we'd never get back and then a kind steward told us there was about 5k left (I know, that's what they all say) but we put the heads down and went for it anyway. Then as we got to the crest of yet another hill we spotted the finish line in the distance. We cheered and screamed the rest of the way back, dumped the bikes in the transition area and even though we couldn't feel our feet we somehow managed a sprint to the finish line - totally elated that we had made it. A hug (for warmth more than anything) and a big clap on the back and that was it - Our Achill Roar.

For anyone who's wondering why it's called the Achill Roar?

It's because you roar on the beach, you roar going up the mountain, you roar coming down the mountain, you roar for the entire cycle route and if there was kayaking we would surely have roared there too!

Would we go back and do it all over again? Yes of course.

Flora McKnight & Assumpta Feeney



10 years 9 months ago

Thanks Marie.  I'd try anything once. (even a race report - finally!)


10 years 7 months ago

literally, Assumpta.