At 5am on the 5th of March, 87 competitors set off for The Race 2016. With a number of 2nd and 3rd time competitors taking on the event there was a tension and nervous excitement in the air born out of an awareness of just how tough the next 24 hours could be. Yet again the course lived up to all expectations. Brutal at times and relentless in ways only competitors can really describe.
"Nothing compares, those moments in the Race of utter madness when you can only laugh at how ridiculous the situation is - Ger Griffin, 2016 competitor"
For the first time our 15 km kayak was voted as the events toughest stage by competitors. A strong northerly wind coming over the tide made conditions incredibly difficult with over 10 competitors having to drop out before the end of this stage.
For those that continued, they were rewarded with a rare bit of sunshine as they rounded Fanad Head and Atlantic Drive. In three years of running the event this was the first time the sun has made an appearance and after our most difficult start it's presence was an extremely welcome sight.
With competition building throughout the day, so did the number of supporters and locals who continuously cheered the competitors throughout the 24 hours. The introduction of the tracking system allowed supporters to follow their family and friends throughout the course and was responsible for some tense scenes back at base where supporters eagerly watched their loved ones move closer and closer to the finish line.
Mariusz Olejniczak from Poland crossed the line in first place with a new course record of 15:01:45. It was just 30 minutes later when second placed Rob McDonald crossed the line in a time of 15:34:13, closely followed by Martin Lynch with a time of 15:41:01. Christina Mckenzie crossed the line in a time of 20:02:55 win the female category for the second time.
It was in the early hours of Sunday morning when we saw the final competitors exhausted faces coming in just before the 24 hour cut off. A total of 66 competitors managing to complete the course.
Mark Beaumont is a Scottish record-breaking endurance cyclist, adventurer, broadcaster and author. He has made a number of documentaries of his achievements with the BBC and we are thrilled to announce him as an ambassador for The Race 2016. We caught up with Mark to chat about his past experience, training for The Race and the difference between physical and mental preparation for an endurance event.
For a long time I have wanted to explore Donegal, and what better way than The Race! It will be a very different sort of challenge for me, as I am more used to expeditions that last weeks or months, so I am excited and rightfully nervous about the prospect. The Race will certainly be a good motivator to keep the training steady over the winter months.
Ireland’s leading cloud telecoms company Magnet Networks is set to partner with The Race for the third running of the event to be held in Donegal, Ireland in March 2016. The announcement is a boost for ultra-endurance racing in Ireland and will go a long way towards establishing The Race as one of the world’s premier endurance events.
Commenting on the partnership, Mark Kellet, CEO of Magnet Networks says, “Magnet is delighted to partner with The Race to support a great fundraising event for a very worthy cause and one of the worlds’ toughest endurance races. It’s a real test of human endurance and mental strength for elite racers from around the world”
I wanted to have an event over the winter period that I could train for. The long distance appealed to me as I have more of a diesel engine for longer events than a petrol engine for the shorter faster events. Even though I have never done a distance like this before I am feeling motivated and enthusiastic.