On the 1st of March 2014, 54 competitors from nine countries stood on the start line of an endurance race in Northwest Donegal. It was 5.59am, One minute before the race began and
one hour before sunrise. The crisp morning air blew in from the Atlantic mixing with an air of expectation that hung over the assembled athletes. World class ultra endurance racing had come to Ireland.
The course took in some of Ireland's most spectacular and rugged landscape as competitors did battle along the Wild Atlantic Way before traversing the full expanse of Glenveagh National Park.
By 6am the following morning 35 competitors had completed the course. The winning time of 15 hours 22 minutes was recorded by Canadian athlete, Bill Wells. Wells competes in endurance races around the world but felt the first cycle leg of The Race “was the toughest 100km I have ever done on a bike”. He was closely followed by Irish competitors Sean McFadden and Micheal McCarron who completed an impressive top three.
This event however was not just about the battle for top spot. Indeed many of the gustiest performances were by those who finished at the back of the field. Heather Bamford was the final competitor to complete the whole course. Her time of 23 Hours 53 Minutes made all the more impressive by the fact that she had completed over the half the course in darkness.
Heather’s daughter Emma also completed the inaugural event, upon finishing she said “I never wanted The Race to be easy. I thought the wild Donegal landscape and the unpredictability of the Irish weather could break me but I didn’t appreciate that it would be the competitors and marshals that would make me. The Race was the most challenging event I have done but also one of the most enjoyable.”
Incredible!! The only word I can think of to describe the Race route. It was perfect!Challenging, breath-taking, beautiful. The volunteers were fantastic. The venue was great. Definitely the best race I've participated in. - Una Hall, Competitor 2014