The South Coast Adventure Race – Review & Report!

South Coast Adventure Race


After driving from Dublin city, we arrived at the South Coast Adventure race registration at about 9pm to be greeted by an efficient and friendly team of organisers. Within a short time we’d received our goodie bags, numbers and champion chips and were ready to go. Registration was easy to find (after a bit of the usual navigation), open until approx 10:30pm to accommodate late arrivals and there was a good buzz while we were there. The next step was getting our bikes racked at the transition area!

We were given directions at registration on how to find the transition area, which was located about a 10 minute drive away. Unfortunately as were weren’t from the area it was hard to remember all of the directions given and we found ourselves driving lost in the dark. Eventually we spotted another car with a bike on the back and followed it into the unknown wilds of west cork. Luckily our faith was well placed and a bight light emerged in the distance. We’d arrived at the bike transition. After a bit of fiddling with wheels, break and pumps our bikes were racked and we headed back for a good nights sleep.

Race Day

Howling winds and waves of rain battering the window of our accommodation. It appeared the weather gods had ignored my request for bright and dry conditions and instead decided the South Coast Adventure Race would be more interesting if the entire course resembled a marsh. As we packed the last of our gear we had to laugh, we’d signed up for an adventure race and this weather was just going to add to the fun. BRING IT ON!!

Our wave started just after 10am and we’d no problem getting suitable parking for the cars. The facilities were very well matched for this type of event with ample toilets (although we heard a few panicked comments about toilet paper), showers and shelter. As the previous waves had already left we’d a short wait in the rain until the bus arrived to pick us up. The coach drove us away from Skibbereen town and into what can only be described as the middle of nowhere. Fields and trees surrounded us and as we stepped off the bus there was the increasingly familiar ‘squealsh’ sound as feet sank into the water logged earth. It was time to race.

The organiser gave a short and clear briefing of what to expect, then it was a quick countdown and we were off! The rain was still falling heavily as the group began to run down the narrow and flooded tree lined track. After 20 yards the unexpected happened. Emergency! I’d lifted my left foot but it had come away minus my shoe. My left Asics runner was still firmly lodged in the mud 12 feet behind me. I hopped like a maniac on one leg through my laughing competitors and released my shoe. As I moved back up through the ranks I was greeted by various comments including “Ah so you got it back then!” and “you know you’ve got a little bit of muck on your runner!”. You’ve gotta love this sport!

The first leg took us up and down a mixture of forest trails and fire roads. The ground was slippery and uneven but everyone was smiling which was a good sign.

As we finished the first section we arrived in transition and found our bikes. Helmets and gloves were put on and then off we went. The first cycling section was the longest single portion of the race and required competitors to be conscious of nurtrition and pace. The roads we’re a mixture of quiet secondary country roads and small portions on the main roads. As we cycled we found our rhythm and began to watch the kilometres melt away. The rain and the wind were still coming down but our hard work kept us warm. At the end of one descent we found ourselves staring at up the impossibly steep Coomb Hill. The hill is a badly tarmaced monster reaching up into the sky as though it was a cliff reeling backwards from an upper-cut. In the grand scheme of things the climb was short but steep and we charged into it. I managed to get almost all of the way to the top before having to admit defeat and push my bike up the final 20 feet. At the top I could see every other cyclist doing the same thing. The South Coast Adventure Race is worth it for this hill alone!

After the coomb hill we descended back the sea level and continued the bike section. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves at the bottom of the Lough Hyne climb. For those who are unfamiliar with this hill, it’s a muddy, forested lump of steepness, sitting watch over the stunning lake of lough hyne. The climb to the top was tough and slippery. Big steps, mixed with slick slopes and sheer drops made the ascent a test of both concentration and fitness. As we climbed we were treated to spectacular views of west Cork as the clouds finally parted the sun poked it’s head out for the first time. Once at the top the landscape changed and we found ourselves in a dense wood. We ducked under fallen tree’s and over moss covered trunks. The trail began to wind down the other side of lough Hyne, passing through woods, along fire roads and then back through fields and country roads. Finally we emerged back at the startof the run section, where we grabbed our bikes and got back on the road.
The weather continued to improve as we arrived at the Kayak section and quickly completed the looped course. Next we had one final bike section ahead of us. As we arrived at the final transition a marshall directed us in. We were greeted by the vista of an assault course, the last obstacle between us and the finish line! Initially there was a bit of confusion as we weren’t sure where to start and couldn’t see anyone to tell us. Nevertheless we worked it out fairly quickly and were on our way. The assault course was great fun as competitors clambered over bales of hay, scrambled under cargo nets and negotiated the balance beams! At the finish line we were congratulated and provided with a very welcome selection of food. Hot soup, water and bananas helped to refuel our tired bodies!

Having done quite a number of races I would put the South Coast Adventure Race was up there with some of the most enjoyable I’ve taken part in. The South Coast Adventure Race was well organised, with a friendly and supportive atmosphere from start to finish. The race is definitely one which beginner adventure racers could do, but there’s no doubting that they should put in adequate training before taking part. This is a great race, situated in a stunning location and I’ve no doubt that if the dates work, we’ll be back for more next year!

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