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Tyrone Trio Reflect On Westport Sea 2 Summit Challenge
On the 12th November this year three well known Tyrone Gaelic footballers took part in one of the toughest most gruelling adventure races in Ireland, The Westport Sea 2 Summit. Enda Mc Ginley, John Devine and Stephen O’ Neill took up the challenge in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Westport Sea 2 Summit gave the three friends the opportunity to raise money for charity. They chose Marie Curie Cancer Care a charity which provides support to individuals and families which are suffering and dealing with the devastating effects of cancer. Donations can still be made online by logging onto www.justgiving.com/red-hand-racers or by texting stos63 followed by the amount to 70070.
The event consisted of a 4.5km run through Westport, onto the bike for an 8km cycle to the foot of Croagh Patrick. Next up is the 5km ascent and descent of Croagh Patrick followed by a 35km hilly cycle back to Westport. Finally to round things off is a 4km run with an obstacle course and sea run thrown in for good measure. The total distance covered was 56.5km. A gruelling and very demanding course which required intensive preparation and considerable training.
The training was something new for the three boys. Gaelic football training is based on short sharp drills to improve speed and running ability over distances of 100-400m. Training for adventure races is more endurance based and involves training the body for 3 to 4 hours of intense exercise. Over the 12 weeks prior to the event all three had to increase their endurance in running, cycling and hill-walking/running. At the start training was very tough, like the first club training session in January after the Christmas break. However things started to improve as did the aerobic fitness levels. After 3 weeks Stevie, Enda and John moved onto brick training sessions which involves mixing cycling with running. Enda completed most of his training in Belfast cycling up Divis Mountain. John did his around Ballygawley and was an expert on Croagh Patrick having completed it 6 times before the event. Stevie completed most of his training in the very familiar surroundings of Gortin Glens and running “the moat” in Aughabrack.
On the morning of the event the weather was great and created perfect conditions for all who were there, adding to the great buzz of excitement around the Castlecourt Hotel. Over 1000 participants entered the race so tension, nerves and atmosphere at the start line were there for all to see. The toughest part of the race was probably the climb of Croagh Patrick. The descent was certainly one of the most dangerous parts as the athletes are running down on extremely rough terrain whilst meeting other people who are still ascending the climb. The last 4km run was very hard on the competitors because at that stage the body is depleted of energy and the legs can begin to cramp during that final run.
At the end the joy of finishing was written across the face of each and every competitor! The sense of achievement was great after all the hard work and the three lads had achieved their goal of completing an adventure race on their first attempt. The intrepid trio have talked about competing in next year’s event already and if anyone is looking for an end of year challenge, you’ll find none as well organised and as enjoyable as the Westport Sea 2 Summit!