It’s 6pm on the first Thursday of the Covid-19 lockdown. My wife is back home with the past hour and a half from her job at the Cork University hospital. That’s 90 minutes where I could take my eyes off the ball. For anyone with kids, you will understand how that ball can get into a world of trouble if left unattended. Our ball of joy is Roisin, a spritely one who has been recently promoted to a position of management three weeks ago. She bosses me around my own home, except for nap time and after 5pm!
I had to stop to think there about my introduction to adventure racing and how many races I’ve entered over the years. The answer to that is 13, and unfortunately no one knows the answer to when the next one will be. The purpose of this piece of writing is simply to applaud the people behind Quest for bringing their top quality events to the fore front of adventure racing here in Ireland and not only that, they continue to add and improve their collection.
On the eve of the famous Quest Glendalough, I speak for all of the adventure racing community in saying that both Boris Yeltsin and Joni Mitchell were absolutely spot on with their statements. I’ll leave you to google the Joni Mitchell song and let you in on the Boris quote; “We don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. Freedom is like that. It’s like air, when you have it, you don’t notice it.”
Ah yes, that very much applies to both our current life situation and the adventure racing calendar. We are going to miss the buzz of Quest Glendalough this weekend. We’ll miss the drive over the sally gap to get to Laragh on the day before. The registration and its electric atmosphere brimming with athletes and nervous excitement for the following day. Then you have race day and the big green field. The field always has more characters in it then the movie itself! You’ll see every square meter of it teeming with life on the morning of the race. Look closely and you’ll notice the sneaky urinator who thinks he’s well-hidden between two vans, or the desperate Dan asking around for a spare helmet. You’ll hear the cries of concern and the denial of training from the group of friends who now feel just like they did all those years ago on the morning of their leaving cert. Then there’s always the character who is a bit behind schedule and fumbling over their bike trying to remove the Quest sticker from its paperback. Is there any way you can make this process a little easier Quest committee??!
I personally love the way each wave is fenced off in the top bit of the field, making us feel like a pack of bulls about to be let loose on the streets of Pamplona. Don’t change a thing, it’s a great feeling.
The race itself has many faces. Of course, it depends on what route you’ve picked that day. Whichever one, if all goes accordingly, you will get to experience the truly amazing kayak around the upper lake at Glendalough. Your face is guaranteed to smile, even if it has grimaced the majority of the time on your way to this point in the race. To make another movie reference, two is not too many, the sport route passes Glenmalure lodge pub, the same pub used in “The Stag”. A classic Irish version of “The Hangover”. I’m watching more TV then ever with the past few weeks. Stuck into “The Mandalorian Star Wars” episodes at the moment, quality. I’ll stop now!
Quest Glendalough, like all of the other Quest races, is superbly organised in order to make it consistent, yet it is never consistently the same. Each time you race this race, it will always throw something new at you. Whether it be the weather, or maybe your competition/friends have switched tactics and made a run for it early on in the race and you have to play catch-up or the extra few pints the night before have allowed you to descend hills quicker than normal and ascend them slower than usual!
I can’t help but feel this blog reads like I am lamenting the loss of Quest Glendo forever. I’m not. With a bit of luck, it might be rescheduled for another date later this year. All is not lost, we, the adventure racing community, are getting the opportunity to gather for a virtual bike ride this Saturday morning. The good people at Kayathlon are organising a turbo trainer session for any adventure racers looking to spin their legs for a good cause. While the good people at Elite Events have set up a social and emotional movement called The Green Wave. So far, they have delivered over 3,000 cups of coffee and gratitude to our healthcare workers around the country. Give them what you can through their go fund me page, www.gofundme.com/f/the-green-wave
Long live Quest Glendalough!
John Phelan aka The BikeFit Physio