Sat 9th Nov 2013 Westport Sea2Summit Adventure Race Preview

with Donal Hughes. Follow @golfcentraldoc Sea2Summit; the name says it all. From humble beginnings this adventure race has reached the...

with Donal Hughes.

Sea2Summit; the name says it all. From humble beginnings this adventure race has reached the lofty heights of now being one of Ireland’s top adventure races. Whether it’s the Spirit or Supreme you are signed up for, you are in for a treat. Here’s my race preview

The Race

First Run

Both the Spirit and Supreme races start at The Castlecourt Hotel and proceed up through the town of Westport towards the greenway. Unless you are in the elite group, don’t get swept up in the excitement and sprint off at a frenzied pace like Usain Bolt; the best policy is to try to pace yourself from the start. Better to finish fast than start fast.
There is one hill on the first run after a 90 degree turn leaving the greenway before heading down to Roman Island, but don’t worry, it’s short and sweet and only a baby compared to the one that awaits you out the road!
Brave Enough

First Bike Section

After you reach your bike at Roman Island, it’s a short cycle out to Croagh Patrick but not one to be underestimated as your performance here will impact how you tackle the climb. The legs will begin to burn a little on the cycle out as it is usually against the prevailing wind and for the most part slightly uphill. The best advice here is to maintain a nice quick cadence (pedal rhythm) in a gear you can push with ease, especially for the last kilometre or so through Murrisk before the transition at Croagh Patrick; if you are pushing too high a gear and tyre the legs, it could come back to haunt you on the mountain.
bressie reek

Croagh Patrick Climb

At the second transition take a minute to get your electrolyte drink in, maybe a banana and your jacket on. You can expect some testing conditions here, it gets colder, windier and wetter as you climb.
mandatory kitMake sure your mandatory kit is with you heading up. Croagh Patrick is generally a safe mountain but getting an ankle nick from the loose shale or a trip is very possible and your kit with some gauze and plasters can be the difference between completing the course in comfort or not at all.
reek3For me the first section of Croagh Patrick is the steepest. It’s a hands on knees procession, with the odd bit of scrambling for all but the very best. Avoiding the people descending the mountain from earlier waves can be quite unnerving for many; I’m really hoping the organizers in the pre-race briefing request that everyone to treat the climb like the “rules of the road” and stay LEFT where possible! I’ve seen this done in other races, and it works very well.
Spirit competitors turn around at the shoulder while Supreme racers continue to the summit. Coming down the mountain will test the knees and quads and requires concentration as every step needs to be placed carefully, especially if you’re travelling quickly.
If you are not used to mountains it’s easy to let your legs get away from you and start to sprint down the hill; this is when trip accidents happen most, so lift the knees and apply the brakes where possible.

Second Bike

For the Spirit racers, exiting the Croagh Patrick transition you turn right and enjoy the downhill run back into Westport with the wind at your back.
cycleFor the Supreme Race competitors the fun is only starting. You will exit left from the car park and head away from the finish on another 35 km trek through some testing hills.
It can be a bit disheartening watching the Spirit competitors head for home after Croagh Patrick as you head the opposite way and once again cycle uphill into the wind, but that’s what make the pint taste sweeter at the end! Sea2Summit is the last MAJOR race of the season, so this is a real time to gather yourself, man-up and dig in!
Turning left off the main road at Lecanvey the gradient steepens for 10 minutes or so. There follows a very fast descent on a poor surface so be very careful here. Local farmers will know the race is on, but life has to go on so always be wary of the odd Land Cruiser with trailer in your way, especially here.
The next turn is left again at Killsallagh and it’s between here and the village of Drummin you get into the real meat of the cycle. The grizzly bit is Maum climb; there’s no dressing this one up with flowery words, it’s bloody tough, but take it at your own pace and make your goal to cycle over it without touching your feet off the ground! Over the top it’s downhill to Drummin where on turning left, you first start the run for home.
The section between Drummin and Westport is a well-used route, and competitors from Gaelforce West will know it well. Don’t let anyone tell you it is flat; from Drummin back out to the main road is full of sneaky little 200 metre drags that will have those calves twitching!
Again as you get back to the transition at Roman Island in Westport, pedal your easiest gear and stand up out of saddle frequently in the final kilometre to flush the lactic acid out of your system. You have been on the go now for hours; the legs will feel heavy and there’s still that 4 km run to the finish line left!

Run To Finish

The run starts with a diversion through the shoreline for about 100 metres. If the tide is in, you will have to run through the water. Then you face some Krypton Factor style obstacles before heading back to the Greenway for the slightly uphill run to the finish line. You will the noise and bustle about a kilometre from the end that will have your hairs standing on end before a huge surge of adrenalin hits with the realization that you’re almost there. Crossing the line, you’ve done it!

The Finish Line

As with everything in Westport, the finish line is organized to a tee, with food, drink, sports massage, your chip times, medal and a mega atmosphere. The fact that it’s the last race of the season adds to the occasion and the after race evening meal and party in the Castlecourt is an absolute must. People do tend to drift away after other races in the season but nobody leaves Sea2Summit without going to the party!

What To Wear?

kitThe best kit for Sea2Summit is cycling shorts and top. Some people wear an under armour depending on how cold it is. I strongly advise you bring a light windcheater/raincoat that you can fold down and pop in your back pocket. Last time out in the Killarney Aventure Race, having a raincoat was mandatory and was checked at the start line; at Sea2Summit a jacket is not mandatory, but because it is later and goes higher, not bringing a jacket, to me, is folly. Strong winds buffet the ridge of the Reek and the temperature at the cone will be much colder than down at sea level.
Other key pieces of kit to consider (especially if you are tackling the Supreme Course) are warm socks and gloves. If you come off Croagh Patrick wet (inevitable) your extremities can get very cold on the cycle stage as anyone who did Sea2Summit 2012 will attest to. We got sun, hail, rain and even snow. I felt like Ernest Shackleton; my fingers and toes didn’t thaw out until the following Wednesday!
nutritionThis is entirely up to you.  I bring three gels, three jaffa cakes and some electrolyte drinks.  It’s important to bring food that you can easily digest and most good quality sports gels are packed with the ingredients to help you through.
Make sure you take your gels in your last few training sessions though, just to get used to them. Some people find certain brands very hard to stomach! 


kanadiaTrail runners with protruding rubber cleats are a must. Saloman speedcross (runners with harder compound cleats) wearers be careful on the wet limestone at the start of Croagh Patrick and the shale at the top as they can be surprisingly slippy.


Any road bike can be used for the race but a racer is best. Good anti puncture hard compound tyres, like Gatorskins or Armadillos are very popular as many of the roads are bumpy, but ordinary tyres should be fine too. Always bring a spare tube or two just in case.

Bicycle Shoes or Toe Clips?

I’ve actually done Sea2Summit using both and still can’t make up my mind as to whether changing into cycling shoes or just wearing runners with toe clips on the bike is best. Both have their advantages. Wearing runners only, means quicker transitions, less weight to carry and none of the annoying trying to open laces and straps with frozen fingers. On the other hand, Sea2Summit is heavily weighted towards cycling and climbing Maum and its friends is so much easier with the pull-up and push-down energy advantage of cycling shoes.
I’m veering towards runners only this year, but that could change!


It’s very important to remember that Sea2Sudonalmmit is only a “race” for a very small percentage of those taking part. Irrespective of what time you do it in, by crossing that finish line you have achieved something great. So be prepared, be dressed for the conditions, be comfortable in your own pace and be safe.
Hope to see you all there. And don’t forget the party!
For full details of Sea2Summit check out



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GolfCentralDaily | Golf Parody Fun Gossip Jokes Betting Tips: Sat 9th Nov 2013 Westport Sea2Summit Adventure Race Preview
Sat 9th Nov 2013 Westport Sea2Summit Adventure Race Preview
GolfCentralDaily | Golf Parody Fun Gossip Jokes Betting Tips
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