Abu Dhabi Wrap Up

Photos from Martin Paldan here

I am finally back in Zurich! Minus my favourite canvas bag, a leather jacket and some scarves which I left in the taxi I shared with some members of Team Abu Dhabi Triathletes to get to the airport. Bummer!

But its good to be back to the cold. I have been suffering since the middle of the race with a chest infection. It was seriously aggravated by the humidity, sand and the asthma I always neglect to treat but now I can finally rest and recover in my warm apartment and tackle blog writing and laundry!

What an experience was The Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. Where to start! I guess the beginning is as good as anywhere.

Thursday 3rd December

I arrived in Abu Dhabi on the evening of the 2nd of December without any hiccups (apart from the 320 CHF fine I had to pay for being 10kg over Lufthansa’s baggage limit)

We spent the next day at the hotel going through mandatory gear checks, kayak and bike inspection, accreditation and organizing our equipment for the race, we had to divide it into bags for different stages and prepare our food. I barely scraped by some of the inspections as my windstopper was underweight but as the organisers were French, a wink of the eye and a joke about Thierry Henry sweetened them up and they allowed me to use it if supplemented with a gilet. We also got our team pic taken, the last photo of our faces looking somewhat fresh and rested for a week!

Day 1

Prologue: 15km bike – 10km Run – 900mtr swim – 3km kayak – 4km orienteering – 4km kayak

RACE STARTS!

We work up early on Wednesday morning and treated ourselves to breakfast from one of the best buffets in any hotel Ive stayed at. They even had Bircher muesli and Emmi the Swiss brand of yoghurt (for all my Swiss buddies out there) We hopped on a bus to La Corniche at 5.30 am after separating ourselves from the two large bags we had prepared on the previous day with all of our kit for the rest of the week inside.

Eoin and Chris loading bags

The race would begin with a Le Mans start on bikes up and down along the esplanade overlooking the beachfront. The bike leg was only 15km we then transitioned to foot for a 10km run, a  900m swim followed by a kayak, an orienteering challenge on an island and back by kayak to shore. The entire prologue taking about 3-4 hours at a pretty intense pace.

We fared really well on the bike, staying in the peleton and up in the front of the pack. When we transferred to foot, that also went well and we estimated we were in near enough to the top 10 teams approaching the water. Then disaster struck. I knew the guys werent strong swimmers but I didnt realise they were that bad! They took to water like stones, no amount of goggles, buoyancy aids, webbed gloves and snorkels would keep them up with the 15 or so teams who were to pass us. I spent most of the crossing towing Eoin while it took Chris 15 minutes to realise that if he actually put his head in the water he would go faster! We eventually made it across and hopped into the kayaks and a furious battle between us and Sleepmonsters, the other Irish team with Paul Mahon as leader ensued.

After a quick run around an island and up some dunes we made it back to the kayaks just behind the other Irish team, Sleepmonsters, and in 21st place. Not such a great performance for the beginning of the race but a good reality check. We had a break then in the sun for an hour until we headed into a 30km paddle out to the island we were to camp on that night.

I was paired with Brian Keogh in the kayak and Chris with Eoin in the other boat. The wind had picked up for the afternoon and we powered past lots of other boats on the way out of the bay. That was really exciting! Up in the font of the pack! We decided to choose a route bringing us in the same direction as everyone else but sheltered behind a breakwater. This definitely worked to our advantage and when we came from behind the breakwater, we made sure we worked the sails as best we could. After a while Brian and I started to effortlessly pull away from Chris and Eoin and we were forced to stop on a number of occasions for them to catch up. This was a little frustrating but with the island in sight there was no real need to resort to the option of fixing the tow line as we were so close to the end. We never really knew how we were doing, I felt as though we were going slow but I couldnt see that many boats ahead of us either.

We got a huge shock when we arrived to the island. There werent half as many boats are we had expected and on a quick count, it appeared as though we were the 13th crew in!

Happily we set up camp, the setting was amazing. Crystal blue tropical water surrounding a little sandy island. We tucked into some expedition freeze dried food packs and had a natter about our strategy for the coming day which was going to be a lot more serious as an 80km kayak with orienteering checkpoints to be picked up along the way. There were still crews coming in up to 2 hours after we had landed. Team Sleepmonsters had a tough evening on the water but we knew that they would be stronger too in other disciplines.

Day 2

Kayak 80km

After a good nights sleep, we packed up our gear, loaded up the kayaks after strawberries and porridge for breakfast (we like to look after ourselves, us Irish) and set off on the second and last kayak stage of the event.

It was impressive to watch the top teams push off from shore, they looked so efficient, their strokes were perfectly in sync. It was really inspirational. I would love to be such a good paddler some day and I made it a goal to look for my own wild water boat to practice and train in.

Lacking speed

Everything seemed to be going ok in the beginning but it was obvious after a while that we had a speed difference between the two boats. We needed to set up the tow. We managed to draft the British Tri Adventure team, who were talented paddlers and work off off of their slipstream for a while. But we lost them on a slow checkpoint transition in and out of the boats and then we started to loose ground on other teams.

This leg was beginning to feel longer and longer as we went on and I was beginning to get very tired, more so from the toll of towing, the boat felt so heavy in the water and it didnt feel like we were advancing at all. We eventually arrived at a shallow spot where it appeared that everyone was dragging their boats through the water and over a sound into deeper water. We followed suit after some discussion as initially we hadnt planned on portage, but it was definitely the best decision. Another 40minutes later we had a real portage section where we had to actually life the boats. It was quite short but the boats were so heavy that we were thankful that was the only significant portage of the whole race. Unfortunately we were very slow again and let some teams get away from us. We really needed to sharpen up getting in and out of the boats.

Will we ever get to the finish?

We had been out on the water for about 4 hours and I began to lose focus, its easy for that to happen over such a long time just doing the same thing. I had to remind myself to concentrate on the job at hand and keep thinking about reaching the finish line, my neck was cramping and I was getting blisters on my fingers. But we kept on fighting and fighting until eventually we could see the high rise buildings of Abu Dhabi, giving us something to aim for over the last couple of hours of this brutal leg of the race.

Made it!

We finally made it to the finish line, exhausted and disappointed to beat. We knew that we hadnt performed as well as we had done in the previous days kayak stage, we had hoped to do better. But we took some time out, got some showers and got ready to sit on the bus for a 3 hour transfer to the desert where we had to set up camp for the next night and prepare for the most fearsome of all stages, the desert trek the following morning. One of the great things about the ADAC is that there is never much time to dwell negative results from the past, we had to keep our minds focused on the next stage at all times. It demands the competitors to focus very much in the moment. We enjoyed the bus ride surrounded by the other Paddy team, Sleemonsters, having a good chin wag about the event and gossip from home.

When we arrived to the desert that evening it was already dark, the bus journey had taken longer than expected and  we still had to eat, put up the tent, get blisters treated and organise for the trek before we could put our heads down. There was a particularly heavy atmosphere about the camp that night, as though everyone was anxious about the following two days. Everyone was out preparing their gear. The only team I saw completely organised were Richard Usshers team, they had everything packed up and organised while the rest of camp were still wandering around and dividing food and gear. There is always a lot to be learned from looking at the top teams. But more on that later.

I needed to be focused! I managed to get it all done and be in bed by 10pm giving me adequate rest before the 5.30am wake up call.

Day 3 – 4

Without doubt, the most terrifying part of the race was always going to be the desert trek. I had never been on my feet for over 50km, nevermind 110km though the scorching heat of the desert and up and down sand dunes.  I didnt know how I was going to hold up.

Mass Start

We started at 7am with a mass start and a frantic pace off the line. Chris, who had competed in the race last year had been warning us about this, and told us that last year he blew up after the first few hours because of the speed and the heat so we needed to watch out  for that. We tried to distribute the weight in our backpacks as fairly as possible, Chris and Eoin taking more weight than Brian and I as we didnt know how we would cope just yet. When the gun went off, it was like a stampede, at least we were running on a dirt road for the first few km until we turned off into the desert.

The desert section of the race consisted of 110 punishing kilometres. There were 6 mandatory checkpoints with a number of optional bonus checkpoints in between. It was our objective to ‘clear the course’, that is, pick up all the checkpoints. It was also mandatory to take two breaks during this stage, of 8 hours in total and up to each team to decide how they would distribute those 8 hours, whether they would take 2 hours and 6 hours or 4 hours and 4 hours. We opted for the latter, to take the first break early and avoid the heat of the day and to keep going as far as we could until we take the next break.

Chris Going Down

After about 2 hours, Chris started to go down at a fast pace.  He was being really affected by the heat and it appeared as though he couldnt keep up with water consumption for the amount he was sweating. We decided to take our break at CP3. However, it was really uncomfortable, there was very little shade, we hid behind a jeep which eventually moved on and when we moved our gear and stuff to the next jeep, that in turn also moved on so we got very little rest here.

Eoin Goes Down

We set off again at about 2.30pm, the sky was somewhat overcast and Chris had also recovered so we felt good about pushing on and getting into a rhythm we could maintain for the rest of the stage. By the time we arrived at CP4, Chris was back in full spirits but Eoin had started to feel weak. It was probably because he had made such a big effort earlier too helping Chris on the tow when he was feeling bad. We couldnt afford our navigator to go down on us so we had to be very careful to keep him going. We took a quick break of 15 minutes at CP4 where Eoin crashed out. We prepared some food for him but he felt so sick he couldnt eat it. We had already taken some of the weight from his backpack and by then he had to be put on tow until he began to feel better. We had a few optionals to pick  up now between CP5 and CP6 so we knew there was about 45km still to go and a lot of it would be during the night. When we arrived at CP4+, one of the optional bonus checkpoints, Eoin told us we would need to stop at the next one for a break as he couldnt go on. He was in a bad way and couldnt eat as he felt nauseous. On the way there, we passed a team comprised of two Russians and members of Blackheart.au who were moving at a really slow pace as they hadnt taken a break all day. We arrived before them after some navigational confusion, set up our tent and attempted to get some sleep. I managed about 3 hours and so did the others except for Chris.

Night Break – Feeling bad

When we woke up I felt really sick, my heart rate was elevated and I couldnt breathe and I had lost my voice (although, the guys were probably delighted at this new development). I had respiratory problems since we arrived with a little cold I had picked  up in Zurich but it had developed into a chest infection.  Just like any time you have a cold, when you wake up in the morning you always feel worse than when you went to bed. Well, this was accentuated by the heat of the previous day and the long trudge through the desert. However, there was no choice, I would have to keep on going, Eoin had recovered somewhat and reminded me that he too had been sick last year but he had made it through and I would also. I kept on remembering Elina Ussher at The Turas in Ireland, how she had made it through the wettest of conditions in Gougane Barra and actually had Pleurisy and could still keep up with the top teams. I would be able to do it too.

Never ending – Day II

We got going again at about 2.30 am, most of our mandatory rest time had been used up and now it was a race to the finish line. This was going to be the toughest part of this stage for me. When we got going I was feeling ok, I had eaten some food and woken myself up, however the next leg was quite punishingly long it seemed. We also knew that Paul Mahons team was on our tail so we needed to keep moving at all times to stay ahead of him. I was beginning to get slower and slower though and could no longer jog the salt flats. By the time we arrived at CP 5+ I had to be put on tow and we stopped to re assess the situation. Would we have time to make the 11am cut off at CP6? Brian reckoned we should do the short course and ommit the optional CP’s, I couldnt offer any sound opinion as at the time, I felt so bad I would have opted for the short course too however I knew that was just because of how sick I was feeling and not a true assessment of the reality of the situation. Chris and Eoin were adamant that we continue to pursue the long full length of the course.  As Chris and Eoin had more experience than Brian we let them decide and we continued on the full course which would take us another estimated 11 hours. We were travelling at snail pace, taking us around 2.5 hours to cover 10km but in fact, that was the average pace of most of the teams out there who were still on the full course, it just felt and sounded so slow compared to the usual time to cover 10km which is about 1 hour.

CP6 to the Finish

I dont really remember much of the next few hours. I do remember arriving at CP6 there were a lot of jeeps there and some teams deciding about whether they would pursue CP 6+ or just go straight to the finish.

We set off after 10minutes break to fix our gear, take the sand out of our shoes as by this point our sand gaitors werent working as well as before. As we set off, we were surrounded by at least 4 other teams. But they went in a different direction to us, we presumed then that they had decided to take the short course options and go straight for home. However as we went over the first hill and crossed a salt flat we saw the Danish and Team Sleepmonsters in the distance and we realised that they had made a navigational mistake and we were leading the pack with about 15km to go.

I also knew that Team Checkpointzero were near us. But I was just concentrating on Brians footsteps ahead of me. I couldnt look left or right, I had no voice left and I felt bad. I couldnt eat and I was always running out of water. It was also so hot, we were in the heat of the day with the sun beating down on us.

The Final Hurdle

When we finally arrived at  CP6+ left to go and 20km to the finish line, it just seemed more than I could handle. I had to sit down, take a few minutes out and prepare myself for the last 10km. I know this sounds like a drama tale but at that moment in time, 10km felt like 100! Chris gave me some gels, we didnt have much water left either so we had to be conservative about our usage. Each 10km had been taking us between 2 and 2.5 hours so we estimated we would be home by about 3pm. I definitely couldnt run across the salt flat so we started off with a quick walk.

The gels seemed to work and within 20 minutes I felt alive again and seemed to have come out of that black hole of the previous few hours. We began to pacify ourselves with the knowledge that the finish was just around the corner now. Eoin had the GPS and we asked him to give us regular updates, however still hadnt recovered fully from the previous night and he was keeping very much to himself. I think it was all he could do to just keep going. Brian was holding up ok and Chris at this stage was beginning to slow down a lot. When we got to about 5km of the finish line we couldnt believe how slow we were going, every 100metres felt like 500 and we were each asking Eoin every few minutes “how much longer” and each time it seemed as though we werent getting any closer. There were big sand dunes separating us from the finish, the Danes were hot on our heels and with about 3km to go, Chris collapsed. The heat again had gotten to him, we just needed to get him around the corner where we thought we saw jeeps and what would be the finish line. I was feeling the strongest of the group at this stage so Brian took his backpack and he want on my tow. We started to move again and at least keep going forward but he was feeling very weak. The Danish team passed us and Team Sleepmonsters were no where in sight.

Unfortunately the jeeps I saw were not the finish line and the dunes didnt get any smaller but after about 40 minutes we met some photographers who told us we were just one dune and a downhill away from the base camp. With uplifted spirits, knowing that we were finally there we trudged along with everything we had and started down a steep dune with the finish in sight.


When we arrived and dibbed in we went straight for the recovery tent where there were bodies strewn everywhere. At least there was coca-cola and some fruit to be enjoyed and we met up with our Danish rivals from Team Summit.

We were completely exhausted when we arrived. It had taken us about 32 hours in total. We arrived back to camp at about 3.30pm, the last of the teams in the top 10 had arrived 2 hours before us and although at the time we thought we had done really badly, with our stops and bonks and slow moving, we actually arrived in 12th place. It just proved how difficult many of the teams had found that stage and how many of them had decided to take the option of the shorter course.

I had always been repulsed at the idea of blistered toes and feet but surprisingly, the blisters were such little pains compared to the pain of a backpack chaffing your back for 24 hours! When I took my socks off, I was somewhat repulsed at the sight of my toes. But once they were treated and wrapped up they were perfectly fine again.

Day 5

I had been longing for the day I could wake up and know that I just had to sit on my bum all day long!

However, it was never going to be THAT easy! Another early start and the fourth day of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge involved an 80km race on desert roads and tracks broken into two stages. The first, a 30km prologue to a desert resort hotel where we would have a break of an hour before a mass start into the 80km leg.

Fast Start on the bikes

My favourite photo of the race:



The pace was frantic off the start, and as usual there was plenty of scary moments with peoples handle bars and elbows getting stuck everywhere. We managed to stay together as a team and up with the front group for a while, then we settled into a pace we knew we could hold and nestled in with the second group from the front. The road was full of holes and a lot of people were getting numb hands from the rattling.

Everything seemed to be going ok, we were pushing along nicely and had a little  battle going between us, the Chinese Dragons and team Summit from Denmark. Where would we be without them!

Disaster

However, there were hairy moments on some of the descents as there were sand bars across the road and sometimes it was difficult to estimate how deep the sand, if it was too deep and rutted it was very dangerous to hit it at high speed. I had been used to downhilling from the last year in Switzerland and it felt like muddy boggy ruts like we have at home, or biking through snow. All of a sudden, on one of the descents, the Chinese girl was on my left when she hit the sand hard and went down at a horrible speed. I slowed down and waited until I could look  back and I was told she was ok. But what I didnt realise then is that Chris had landed on top of them and came down hard, puncturing his front tyre as a result.

Puncture Repair

This was not good, the prologue was short and fast, getting a puncture here would mean we were out of contention. We repaired it as fast as we could but it was all we could do to catch up to the two teams ahead of us and we arrived disappointed to the hotel.

Having a good chin wag about something really important?

Smelly Athletes and…Canopes?

The hotel had put on a big feed for us, we felt so out of place compared to the decadence and eloquence of the setting. There we were nearly 160 athletes, dirty and smelly and covered from heat to toe in dust and sand, in front of Abu Dhabi’s newest and most glamorous desert resort! It was funny alright, especially as it was so windy my rice crispies kept blowing out of the bowl and I could hardly eat them. Rice Crispies, canopes and mini croissants. I didnt like having a break so long as you become reluctant to start again but at least I knew that the pace of the next stage would be less frantic as the previous one.

Eoin and I relaxing before the start of the next battle

Leg 2 of the bike stage

The next stage would begin as a mass start again. Everyone croweded up together at the gates of the hotel. We started off and quickly settled into a nice pace but we got hit by the most ferocious sandstorm. I had never experienced anything like it. I had asked Brian earlier if I could borrow his Buff for protection against the sand as my lungs were already bothering me and I had lost my voice. I am so lucky he made that big sacrafice for me, if it werent for that piece of cloth across my mouth, I dont know how I would have survived. The wind was so strong and there was so much sand we couldnt even see where we were going, it went up under our sunglasses and into our eyes so that we couldnt even open them. I had never experienced anything like it.

There were three checkpoints in total in this stage and we fell in with a bunch of teams from Russia/Australia and Belgium and if I remember correctly the Chinese who were soon dropped. I was feeling good at this stage and comfortable on the bike. I wish it were like that for every other sport! The others on the team however went through periods of suffering and I was glad to be able to help out when I could this time, and repay them for their help in the desert on the previous day.

Desert freak mountain biker

The stage began with rideable road but pretty soon turned into an on the bike off again challenge. Lots of sections were unrideable on the bike requiring us to get off and push it through the sand. This was so energy draining!

Feeling good

Struggling

We got left by the Russian/Australian team and ahead of the Belgian team at about half way and we had to battle it alone. At  this point one of our guys was feeling particularly bad and I didnt have a towline on my bike, nor was it particularly useful as I couldnt tow through the sand. Perhaps we should have used it earlier and saved some energy. However, we battled along and had some other teams ahead of us and behind us to guage our progress.

The Vikings are weakening!

Just when we were about to go into a real slump we saw the Danes up ahead of us, and one of them was pushing his bike. We knew that this was our chance and we got really excited. We were only 10km from the finish with our rivals in sight, and obviously feeling some weakness too. Saying nothing, we snuck up behind them and with a “how’rya lads” as we went past, we bombed it with them to the finish line. The race was on! Neck and neck we raced it to the line, getting in just ahead of them. What a great feeling! There were lots of hugs and laughing at the finish line as once again we had the battle to the end with our Viking friends…

Me and Cecil, my counterpart on the Danish team, at the end of the bike

At some stage Chris had said that there was a cut off time of 3.30 to this stage and taking his word, we only had 5mins to spare, which further egged us on. As it turns out we found out after crossing the line that the 3.30 time was the time the first bus would leave to go back to base camp! But it definitely helped us move along faster in the end, we later found out that Eoin knew otherwise but he didnt let on.

Some teams had really struggled today. Andrea in the Abu Dhabi Triathletes team, which was comprised of professional triathletes and an Ironman Kona Champion had come off of her bike earlier and broken a bone in her hand. Another girl was seen being carried to hospital on a stretcher, I never found out why but she did re-join the race later.

We got on the bus and rumour had it that we were ordered to bring our shoes with us as we would have to walk 3 km to the campsite that evening. We stopped at a gas station on the way home and Eoin treated us to some food and drinks, that was really great, I had been longing for an ice-cream! When we arrived at the campsite we were informed that we no longer were required to walk as they had moved the entire campsite as the wind was so strong it had blown away some of the tents already. Not boding good for a nights sleep. I had hardly had a wink the previous night.

Some food and a natter about the days events and we were ready to prepare our gear for the final day. I couldnt believe it was here already. In retrospect I miss the excitement and the planning and the all consuming focus of the evenings. We knew that we were very close to the Danes at this stage. We had been exchaning 15 and 16 place with them throughout the event. The team behind us, Herkules from Finland were too far behind us to pose a real threat unless something went wrong.

The Last Day

I would like to say I woke up on the last day but truth be told, I never went to sleep. I went to bed at 9.30 and laid awake because of the noise that the tent had been making. The wind was so strong it felt like it was going to blow away the tent and the whole thing was flapping very loudly preventing me from getting any sleep. At about 12pm I got up and took my sleeping back and down vest to the Bedouin tents which had been set up for dinner, to discover I wasnt the only insomniac as about 40 other athletes had also done the same and there were bodies strewn everywhere on the grass, in the tents, behind the tents, desperate to seek shelter from the wind.

Final Day 6

My alarm went off at 2.30 am. We were to get on the bus at 4 after taking up camp and preparing the last bits of gear, to embark on an orienteering section of 12km by foot followed by the mountain stage and another bike and run.

This was the worst I had felt so far. I had stomach cramps, no sleep and couldnt breathe…ok, it was the last day, I would survive but boy was it tough. But then again, I probably wasnt the only one around who felt like that and some competitors were limping pretty badly from blistered feet and injuries picked up in the desert trek.

Feeling Bad, Morning Orienteering

We crawled, deleriously sleep deprived, onto the bus – wishing that the journey would take more than 10 minutes as that would be 10 minutes more sleep than the 0 minutes I had the prevous night! It was bitterly cold with a strong wind blowing across the rock field when we arrived. I had stomach cramps to top it all and wasnt feeling too good at all, I knew this was going to be the toughest of all the stages but I tried to console myself that it was only 12km and would be over in an hour.  Teams were set off in order of their position from the previous day and we zooted off behind the Danes in 15th position. The pace was frantic, I didnt know how I could keep up. I quickly took Chris`s tow as he seemed to be full of beans and I was quickly being dragged around the place. I had also made the mistake of wearing my Asics Gel Nimbus intead of a pair of sturdier Salomons (which I hadnt brought with me and I didnt want to use the Innovates I had used in the desert as they were uncomfortable on my blisters). The terrain was so difficult underfoot, I had never run through anything like it, there were rocks everywhere and bushes with thorns as sharp as barbed wire on them.

Chris showing some leg

The Danes…Again!

We eventually made it to the top, scrambling over photographers as we went and we thought we were very close to the end of the stage with only a 2km run. However, it was much longer than 2km and involved a traverse across the ridge at the top and a run down a rocky gully full of rocks so sharp that a mere brush off them would create a deep flesh wound.

There were teams behind us and ahead of us, the Italians with Marco Ponteri were pushing hard and fast on their feet. We quickly passed Team Checkpoint Zero and managed to maintain that lead. It was between us and the Italians. Just as we were within 1km of the finish we could see the building on the top of the mountain and hear the announcer, who did we spot ahead of us but the Danes! I shouted back to the guys and there was a distinctive grunt and groan from Chris and Brian and we charged up the hill behind them to sprint to the finish. For the 3rd time in the event we were racing them from behind to the finish. I couldnt believe it.

Some nifty footwork needed here. Chris reminding us we would be good at this from running the Reeks at home

We arrived in just a couple of minutes behind them. Putting us in a really great position to close that gap on the ensuing bike stage.

30km Bike

We spent an hour waiting on the top of the mountain for some other teams to arrive before the cut off. Then got our bikes ready. We had to descend the 1,000metre hill by road, behind a control car which would pull aside and let the peleton pass at the bottom of the hill. It was insanely scary. To be in the middle of a peleton with so many people around you not knowing how to control their bikes on the bends. It was all I could do to keep looking around me and avoid handlbars coming close to mine at about 35kmph.

The Luck of the Irish?

At the bottom of the hill all hell broke loose. The pace picked up. We were just gathering together as a team when all of a sudden I started bouncing around. I remember thinking ” Hmmm Do I have rear suspension or what?” and it dawned on me I had gotten a puncture. I could have cried! The peleton rode off into the distance and we were left by the side of the road repairing a bust tube.

When we got going again we knew we would have our work cut out for us. We had lost about 4 minutes on the repair and at least as much would be lost in the battle between the four of us to move at a similiar pace as the peleton without the draft. We worked so hard together as a team to finish out that last leg of 20km. Constantly changing the lead and drafting each other.  We came across two other teams who had befallen a similiar fate, Team Adco NZ in second pace was also by the side of the road. They passed us like a breeze and we hung on to them for a few minutes but their pace was too fast for us to sustain. They were being led by Stuart Lynch, what an animal, only 2 weeks after the Portugal XPD too.

The Final Finish Line

We finally made it to the Emirates palace, heads hung low and feeling sort of confused by the recent events. At this stage we were all feeling a little sensitive. We had to pack up our bikes and get ready for the last 3km run through the Emirates gardens and down the main street to the Emirates Palace and the official finish line. The idea of a 3km run seemed like hell to me. Its strange how psychologically something like that can effect you when you are exhausted. A 110km trek through the desert taking hours and hours is manageable but at the end of a race a 3km run seems insurmountable.

We agreed we all go on tow if needed and after about 500metres the pecking order was Brian then Chris followed by me with Eoin loose. I have never seen Brian Keogh run so fast in my liife, he was on fire, like a man possessed. He hauled and dragged us all the way to the finish line. That was the best finish to our race and wordlesslessy described his quiet determination throughout it all. When we finally crossed the line, we were greeted by the Danes and the other Irish team Sleepmonsters. Emotional hugs all around and some photos taken in front of the palace.

Irish AR at the finishline
Us and the Danes, Team Summit
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6 thoughts on “Abu Dhabi Wrap Up

  1. Hi Fiola,

    long time no see!
    Lisa told me about your (crazy) plan and i really enjoyed reading this!
    Hope to see you again soon in Zurich!
    (btw. i did ALMOST 5km of running today)

    1. Hey Simon, well done on the almost 5km run! I havent done anything since last Wednesday and its GREAT! Next time you are in Zurich we MUST meet up! I have to hook you up with some photographer contacts I have around the place ; )

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