Quest Wales has hungered my sense for adventure!
It’s not often you work with a client who organise adventure-packed race events in stunning locations across Ireland and Wales. As well as being fortunate enough to work with Quest Wales, I had the pleasure of being involved and taking part in what proved to be an excellent adventure racing event comprised of running, cycling and… kayaking!
It was a wet and cold Friday afternoon as we embarked on our route to Quest Wales’ home; the iconic and beautiful Betws-y-Coed. Despite torrential rain hitting us hard throughout the whole journey (and yes, my windscreen wipers were on fast mode throughout the whole 210-mile journey!), we arrived safe and sound in Betws-y-Coed later that day.
The evening saw my colleague, Tom Bowers, and I have an excellent dinner with our invited media and influencers, all of whom were either first-time adventure racers like myself or experienced fitness goers and had ventured from various corners of the country to participate. We also met with Quest Wales’ and Quest Adventure Series’ Race Director, Oli Kirwan who gave us and our invited guests a warm welcome to Quest’s events.
Before I knew it, race day had arrived and to say the least, I was feeling slightly anxious!
I was participating in the Challenge 23km distance; a route comprised of four stages – 6km road bike, 1km kayak, 7km trail run and a final 9km road bike.
Oli Kirwan provided a comprehensive, yet efficient race briefing and before I knew it, I was off and away! First up was the 6km road bike and boy, was it tough! After cycling out of the beautiful village that is Betws-y-Coed, Challenge route participants were faced with an early and mighty challenge; cycling along Afon Llugwy river to then ascending the hilly depths of Gwydyr Forest.
The route encompassed various ascents and descents along narrow roads often embedded in forest and open air. About 2km in I accepted it was near impossible to cycle all the way to the top without jumping off and temporarily pushing my bike. Nevertheless, with much determination and a refreshing temperature and amount of rain cooling my body heat, I reached the 1km kayak area whereby I came across completing my first race transition.
The beautiful lake that is Llyn Geirionydd presented an ideal setting for some adventure-filled kayaking, a key race element which enhances Quest Wales’, and indeed Quest Adventure Series’, unique offering. Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions, the lake was rather choppy and meant the 1km distance was halved but still allowed for a fantastic 10-minute session in the dual-kayak alongside a fellow, and very friendly, Quest participant.
I then began my first ever trail run, exploring the hidden treasures of Myndd Deulyn. Again, I had to accept the challenges adventure racing poses by occasionally adopting a fast walking approach instead of running up every single hill! The terrain was fantastic, fun and kept you on your toes. From running on open, slippery rocky paths to narrow, forest-filled trails, there was always a positive surprise waiting for you around the corner.
The latter end of the trail run route primarily involved a well-deserved steady downhill jog and took me back to my bike and final transition stage. It was here where I significantly demolished my trusty bag of jelly babies and energy gels to give me a much-needed sugar rush! After catching my breath and regaining composure, I hopped onto my bike for the final time and took off back to Betws-y-Coed.
This cycle route was less demanding in comparison to the previous, with marshals and clearly signposted course flags directing me towards the finish line. Before too long, I emerged from the greenery surrounding Glyn onto the main A5 road. This section was a gradual, but fast descent back into Betws-y-Coed – I was flying along after realising I could really turn it up a few notches during the final race stage.
As I was cycling into the bike drop-off transition point, I had to gear up and ensure I completed a smooth final transition. This meant quickly hopping off my bike and then sprinting the home stretch across the finish line.
Suddenly, the buzz which followed me throughout the race was only enhanced – I was feeling on top of the world! I had just completed my first ever adventure race in a time of 2:04:58 while finishing 13th in my category.
After completing Quest Wales, I now know for a fact adventure racing has certainly hooked me. There were so many aspects which attract me to participating in future Quest events; the comradery between participants, location, challenge, variation, terrain, preparation – the list could go on.
The event was simply fantastic, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone considering their next physical challenge.
Quest Wales… I’ll be back!
Why don’t you sign up to Quest Wales 2020 and discover your inner sense of adventure?: https://www.questadventureseries.com/race/quest-wales/