Reports & Photos

CLEC 2011 Report

It’s ALL About The Cooley’s

Race Report – Carlingford Lough endurance Challenge, Carlingford, Louth

Saturday July 9. Some 45 teams and just under 200 participants raced either the 49k Mountain bike course or the 36k ‘Tarmac’ Endurance Challenge, aka CLEC around the Cooley Mountains and Carlingford Lough.
The weekend event began on Friday night with registration open at the Carlingford Sailing Club for local and those avoiding an early Saturday morning start. Those who availed themselves of the free camping then went on a free recon of the delights of the village of Carlingford.

Enjoying the early morning sunshine and beautiful Lough scenery racers milled about the Sailing Club and transition finishing their registration forms, rechecking their packs and bikes, heading to the bathroom, and awaiting their race goodie bags. Once maps, instructions, and a race briefing had been delivered teams grabbed a few last things and headed for the village for the traditional walk/parade through the village behind the Carlingford piped band to the start line, for the 10am start.
Starting on foot the individual CLEC Tarmac racers had to follow a 4km trail down around the village around King John’s Castle before returning to T1 to pick up their road bikes. This section was to take them to the ‘Long Woman’s Grave’ to T2 where they faced the very steep but short climb up Fox’s Rock to the first check point. They then hopped back on their bikes for the 15k bike back to Carlingford and T1. They now faced a 1k sea kayak, around the harbour to the ‘Convent Steeps’ for the second CP, before returning to the slipway. Here they headed on the final leg of the challenge, a 2k run around King John’s Castle and back to the finish.

Male 1st Ross Collins; 2nd Patrick Carolan; 3rdJohnny Gregg
Female 1st Michelle Ryan; 2nd Fiona Fenelly; 3rd Martina Nolan

Those in the Tarmac who elected to run the 10k as their first run, results were as follows 1st Declan Forde; 2nd Ciaran Smith; 3rd Mark Hudson

In the Mountain bike CLEC it was to start with a 10k run from the centre of the village, through Barnavave (Maeve’s Gap) down from the Golyin Pass to ‘Slate Rock’ and on the forest fire road, and then back to Carlingford. It was tough going in the warm conditions. The first complete team to arrive was Peter O’Farrell , Aaron O’Donoghue and Alan O’Keeffe team.

Onto the mountain bikes and it was up the fire road in Slieve Foy Forest, then following ‘The Táin Way’ to Omeath, on up to the ‘Long Woman’s Grave’ to the bike drop at T2 at the ‘Windy  Gap’ for the 2k summit run up to Fox’s Rock. Then on to T3 for the 4k run up to the lake at Slievenaglogh. First to arrive and staying in the lead was O’Farrell’s team followed by two man team Alan Bingham and Ciaran Gormley, then the team of Gerry McCabe, Enda Reynolds and Johnny McCabe with Paul Mahon’s mixed team in hot pursuit. A very difficult run in the conditions, but most teams completing it in under 48 minutes. Local two man team of Paul McGee and Declan McCabe not far behind. Back on the bikes and onto the mountain single tracks, along ‘Skull Alley’ to the ‘Windy  Gap’ once again.

From here it was back on the trails, up the ‘Famine Road’ to Golyin Pass once more, this time for the wonderful roller/coaster single track decent into Carlingford and transition zone. With a full tide lapping the shore line and a stiff north westerly blowing up the Lough, the Kayaks awaited the weary competitors. A pair would kayak over to the Convent Steeps below St. John’s Castle one of which would change with the third member who ran around to meet them. Following this a final 2k run to, up and around St John’s Castle through the village and back to the finish.

First male team home Peter O’Farrell Aaron O’Donoghue Alan O’Keeffe (4:27:50); 2nd Johnny McCabe, Gerry McCabe, Enda Reynolds (4:40:06)

First Female Susie Mitchell, Pauline Brady, Hillary Jenkinstown

First Mixed team home Paul Mahon, Jenny McCaughly, Richard McCaughley (4:38:05) 2nd Chris Caulfield, Catherine Halpin, Mark Macken

First Male pair Ciaran Gormley, Alan Bingham (4:35:33) 2nd Kevin Egan Conor McMullen(4:50:14). Bare a thought for the two final competitors of the mixed paring of Sandra O’Hagan and Michael Wilson who put in a superb performance in this their first ever CLEC event together in a time of 8 hours 30 minutes. 

A big thank you to all marshals on the day, Carlingford Red Cross, the local Garda, Jade Events, Coillte, Carlingford Sailing Club and its members and staff. The ladies committee who once again put on a superb meal. We were also fortunate in that the surrounding land owners gave permission to use their property so that race the selected route. Thanks also to Tommy the Bike and Outdoor Xchange.

And finally, to all the competitors, who travelled from near and afar and who braved the elements and the challenge they conquered. Hopefully we’ll see you all again in 2012 for another memorable  ’CLEC’.
Personal Report from Ciaran Gallagher (Team No. 73 – 5:34:43)

From the offset, I should state that I’m not built for speed, nor swimming, but I am good at picking races which inflict a lot of pain upon myself.
In every sporting discipline there comes a point, at some stage in a race or event, or even a particularly gruelling training session, where he / she considers stopping, even giving up. It’s the dreaded “Wall” at around the 32k mark in a marathon. This is the point where the flesh weakens, the spirit sag’s and the will drains away into a little puddle on the ground. Legs turn to jelly and breath comes in short, gasping gulps. There is probably nothing as feared, or misunderstood, as this inner barrier where the unprepared run out of steam and can go no further. In Carlingford I hit this point hard at the 3-5km mark our first major hill climb which we had to walk. “It’s all in the head, I love hills and I don’t quit” these are a few self-motivation quotes I used to get me through my dark times on Saturday and I relied on them heavily. After Saturday Stephen Teeling Lynch can slag me calling me “Captain” or even “President “of The All Talk Team. But I didn’t quit, even though at various points in the day I so deeply wanted to.
CLEC was set high on my list of events fort this year. And one of my goals for this season was to bring a strong team up to Carlingford in order to give the top Male and Female teams a bit of serious competition this year, and also to celebrate my 10th year finishing the CLEC.
Joe O’Connor from Nisus Fitness Tralee got the first call up. Joe’s a complete legend and a good friend who has completed the CLEC with me for the majority of the 10 years. This year was a bit different for Joe as imminent arrival of his first born was too close for to the CLEC, but we said it would still be manageable. This was until he received instructions/orders from the doctor and his wife Tina not to leave Tralee.  So are 3 man team sadly became a 2 man team.
Stephen Teeling Lynch, well he’s good at swimming, road biking and running, and generally an around good guy. So truth be told and as good a friend and comrade as he is, I wanted to break him or take him down a level or two, and show him that he still is human. What better event to humble a man than the CLEC, or so I thought.
I introduced Stephen to the great world of mountain biking. It was not long before the student caught up with the coach, and now Stephen has become very capable on the mountain bike.  He now can take me on the uphill battles, but I can still catch him on the downhill sections. I suggested the CLEC to Stephen in the cold, frozen, snow covered hills of Ballyhoura early in January, where I knew he could only give me the correct answer – Yes.
This year at the CLEC the legend that is Johnny McCabe added a number of new racing categories.  The one that suited us was the two-man mountain bike category. Traditionally the CLEC is a three person (all male / female or mixed).
The CLEC is an extraordinary race set in the beautiful surrounds of Carlingford Lough and the Cooley Mountains, Co. Louth. “Yes Stephen we are still in the south no need for the passport”. Just one of the rememberable quotes from the weekend. The race is a 9.5km ish road, fire road and mountain run, 17 km mountain bike fire road and road to a 3km summit run/walk/crawl back on to your mountain bike by road for 4km to the third run/walk/crawl another 2km summit run. After the final submit run your back into your mountain bike and commence a tough climb along the cross country trails of the Cooley’s for another 9km. After the tough bar chowing climb along the famine road you descent into Carlingford village and back to transition at the sailing club. The bikes are dropped and you move on to a 2km kayak and finally out of the cold muscle cramping sea water to finish this pleasurable race with a 2km road run around the castle and streets of Carlingford.  Bord failte couldn’t compose such an attractive appealing description of this race. The course details are below.
http://connect.garmin.com/activity/98445318
Now let the excuses begin: I state them in order to help better prepare other athletes with their endurance race preparation, and not to fulfil my role as captain of the All Talk Team.
Race preparation – Make sure that all your equipment is in working other the week before, the days before, as finding out on the morning of the event means curtains. As I off loaded my bike I found that my back hydraulic brakes were leaking hence I now had no back brakes for the day. Some (Stephen) might say I didn’t need a back brake as I didn’t go fast enough. Also the zip on my back pack broke on the morning of the race so I had to make do with an old one which I couldn’t access gels, food etc. from without taken off.
This one is the common error but you do sometimes think your super-human and not affect you. DO NOT USE GELS THAT YOU HAVE NOT TRAINED WITH. The gels I used were not the normal ones I use, and due to me being too busy, or lazy the days leading up to the race I didn’t get them. In the past I found that the power bars suit me better than the gels but remembering this in the middle of a race is way too late, hence the stomach cramps after about the first hour.
Familiarisation: Know the course. Get to registration early. Find a map, and start asking questions. Is there water stations? Can I refill at any point on the course? Is there any food? Do I need a second pair of runners, can I leave a pair at the start of the running section so I don’t have to carry them, can I have the emergency contact number (because you never know) etc. Stephen didn’t take a second pair of runners so my pair for after the race was sacrificed, so muggins here was left bare footed after the race until I could source a pair. So I reiterate a valuable lesson from Joe O’Connor (who might have borrowed it from Lord Baden Powell) “fail to prepare, be prepare to fail”. So true, oh wise one.
Training or the lack of – for me this was one of my own personal disappointments. My wife Michelle tells me every year that she is sick of hearing me say “next year I am going to train and be fit enough not to disappoint Joe” with my lack of fitness and give the CLEC everything. To be honest, neither Joe nor Stephen spoke to me about this realisation. It’s more a friend’s loyalty to them, as they both are to be fair “fitness freaks”. Ok I am not unfit; I have a reasonable standard of fitness based on my own personal assessment. But I just wanted so much to lift the standard that bit, to push myself the bit harder and release that inner beast and finish the CLEC knowing that I pushed my fellow team mates to the limit. I didn’t want to win the CLEC this year but privately I really didn’t want to let my team mates down which was one of my goals this year. Also Michelle does not have to remind me of what I say every year. This year I felt that I let Stephen down as he has dragging me out to train during the winter months and helped me out a lot in his own way over the last few months. Ok I am hard on myself but after all this was my 10th year doing this race and I should know at this stage what I need to do. Training was good at the start of the year with a PB for a 10km but like a lot of guys that train for an Ironman tell you the hardest thing is to get to the starting line. I sustained a calf injury in April which stopped all training plans. I got in 2 weeks of training before the Hell of the West and another two between the CLEC. So at the moment I am balancing my disappointment with the reality that 3 months without training cannot be turned back in 4 weeks.
I could continue here with the race description of my calves cramping, quads cramping, looking at Stephens back for the majority of the race and him waiting for me. Also looking at the other negative mental side of the race which mostly consisted of me asking myself “Ciaran can you explain why you do this to yourself?” I’m still trying to find a good answer!
What draws me back to the Cooleys mountains every year? For me its to meet up with my family the night before the race, stressing my mam out with a few faces into her house to feed, meeting my old friends from Dundalk and Cooley, the slagging that only friends can give in a good hearted “hey Gally are you stuck in reverse”, responded with the two fingers cause I was too feicked for anything else. Also to re-kindle old friendships from the rugby pitch. Thanks for the cola Paul aka “Baby Whately”, as he was once known as, because he was the youngest on our team, and as captain I issued instructions that he was to be “looked after”, and he was. It was Pauls turn to look after me. Paul was also suffering but passed me when I had stopped the only time for a break thinking about the can of coke I had in my jeep and working out in my head how to get at it. Paul handed me his bottle with a mouth full of coke in it which was enough to awaken the body and get me moving again.
Once I got to the top of the famine road and looked down into Carlingford it’s the first chance to assure yourself that you are going to make it. I also entered the most enjoyable sections for me, the downhill mountain bike and kayak section. Downhill is a bit technical and very fast. It’s more fun with no back brakes. I got close to completing this section cleanly and being on Stephen back wheel but as I passed down a narrow trail between a hedge and stone wall. I was going too fast. My front wheel hit a large stone which caused a bit of a speed wobble, and I crushed into the wall. I was very lucky and got off lightly with only a few scratches but the worst thing was that I ripped my favourite t-shirt.
Thankfully I came into my own on the kayak as I was able to push and give it everything. I couldn’t cry or open my mouth about my cramping legs to Stephen as this was one element of the race which I was able to push and help him out. I nearly got away with it until Stephen had to help me out of the boat at the end as I couldn’t bend my legs and pull myself up out of the boat. If anyone wants to make money on funny videos well next year record people getting out of the Kayak and starting into their run. It hard to describe the feeling running out from the kayak but imagine cramped legs, so you can’t bend your knees and tired muscles that don’t want to move. Running was more of a waggle from side to side until a about halfway into the 2km run and then it was a push through to the finished line. Finishing time a long 5 hours and 36 minutes the seconds don’t really matter.
At the finish line I thanked Stephen for completing the race with me but I unfortunately followed it with an apology for my fitness level and having to wait for me all day. Stephen was delighted to have completed the race as it was written all over his smile at the finish line. This smile was I believe a combination of the race finishing but also his realisation that he is back, able to complete a long race without injury. I reckon Stephen now has a taste for this type of race. We should see a good result from him in the upcoming Lough Derg Monster as a single competitor, not a team.  The positives which I have gained after the race: ok my quads are sore, I hate the stairs right now, but my calf has held up with no major side effects to date. I think its time to register for the Lough Derg Monster, 2 weeks to recover, rock on…………..
Currently the position for the Captain of the All Talk Team is open for a suitable candidate. The candidate must be able to build him or herself up with exciting levels of enthusiasm, but can never back up anything, he or she says in their chosen sport. The more realistic the all talk, followed by an extreme lack of action = the more successfully the applicant will be. …..please forward your application toinfo@gotri.ie.
Finally well done to my wife, Michelle who finished the Tarmac CLEC (10k – longer option) in 3 hours 15 minutes of sheer torture after which she sort it in her heart to buy sandwiches for us and cleaned our mountain bikes after the race. She is my legend.

C.Gallagher

Personal Report from Stephan Teeling-Lynch
(Team No. 73 – 5:34:43)

For the last 2.5 seasons I have helped guys/girls/teams to fulfil their goals with some great success and some small failures, this year I’m helping some great folks to win some great races but I’m also helping myself. How am I doing it? Through some great friends and some great athletes that I help to perform, they in turn are giving me the drive to get back on the horse, so to speak.

It is tuff to realise sometimes that you’re stuck in a rut, depressed and just meandering along. Sometimes it takes a good kick in the arse to pull the wool out of your ears, other times a change of scenery, or a friendly chat over my beloved coffee, a simple arm around the shoulder.

How to help yourself? It’s hard. Near impossible at times. Dark holes and darker days, but there is always a twilight that leads into a brighter place. Appreciate the mind, feel the soul and smile.
Sounds very hippyish, I’m trying…. every day to appreciate the mind, for those that are interested. Try reading a book called going for gold. It’s up to you.

I was given an old Cannondale mtb bike on a trip to ballyhoura over last winter, after much humming and hawing, deliberations of why bother, retirement is the way to go, time to walk away, these things were what I was dealing with on a daily basis. An old run around he called it but it will do you until you can afford your own or see if you even like it. The freedom I found on that ride was written across my face on the descents. My body was a small bit battered, but I love the constant effort, concentration needed and the technicality.

I think this year 2011 is one where I’m going full circle 2008 v 2011 that old Cannondale was a possible representation of body, old battered but still able to do a job.

Walk the Pink Ribbon Kilkee 10km in 2010 v run it in 2011, I didn’t make the time cut in 2010 due to injury and in 2011 I raced to 5th place, the result is not important, that I was able to run made it: fun

During a few sessions after that first ride, I was asked to take part in the clec adventure race, pestered really, I have to be honest and say I never expected to take part, I agreed to keep him quiet, never sure if I was helping him train or helping myself through bad times, never believing that my body would actually be in any shape to walk let alone run.  I’ve come a long way since deciding that retirement was not for me, “do what you can while you still can” I was told by a famous cheese maker and friend.

As I write this and reflect, my body screams with athletic pleasure of sore quads, craves the swimming pool and (a sneaky coffee) to help invigorate the body’s temple the brain).  How do you describe the Clec, mad, great, long, wet, warm, friendly, good crack, with great friends?

I have never done a team race outside of swimming galas as a junior so the Carlingford Lough endurance challenge was going to be a new experience.
The race started with a parade led by 3 pipe band members playing a gleeful tune, in the sunshine under the shadows of the Mourne mountains( I think that’s the mountain range up that end of the isle) there is not much flat land around the Lough, its really either up or down, climbing stairs or chasing stars.

The first run was 9.5km mountain run which was burning both my calves, my Achilles were arguing with each other with every step, but my eyes were gleaming, aerobically I was feeling great all the time wanting to push on, but holding back as I knew the day was going to long, we ran with the groups over the top, we had a simple game plan, build into the first run, see how we feel and push on, while staying together. Ciaran is a veteran of this race, 10 out of the 11 years it has been on he has done it, so in my head id just follow him.

Watching every step I was taking, we carefully scrambled over the mountain and down the other side; I can only describe the run as scarily freeing, a cross between hill running and free running, no two steps the same. Adrenaline is a funny thing, the body’s chemical of choice for exciting times it’s pumped through the eye’s meets the heart, causes flutters and makes legs turn fast, and feelings are twitches across the face called smiles. Into transition, the sailing club car park, greeted by friendly folk and a toilet break. Mtb shoes on back on, powerbar gel inserted into my mouth and swallow, I was nervous about the mtb sections, my mtb training is limited to ballyhoura and cratloe’s secret trails, I wasn’t sure what to expect, what were the sheep trails going to be like, would my bike be able to cope with it? Ah just follow gally was my answer, worst case scenario id packed my phone in my backpack, id phone mammy if it got too hard :)

I can only learn by pictures, I can read fine but it if can’t imagine it, forget it I can’t remember it. Normally for races this year I would subject myself to mental imagery training, this is easy for when you know the course, but for the unexpected, well that’s just what it is unexpected, you can do nothing about what you can’t control, a hard lesson to learn but what you can control is what you eat, concentration, fluid intake, direction these are all things I had run through my brain the morning of the race. Take some time out before your next race to think about when you’re going to do these.
The mtb section was good crack, a mixture of road and trails. Some steep up hill road sections and some thrilling descents through streams and over hedges, to be greeted by a hill walk!! Describe as a hill run, id have tackled it with a rope and scaling ladder if I was told to do it on my own. Following the little red markers and looking for a stake in the ground so as to mark the map, we plodded along; Ciaran’s calf was giving him a physiology lesson of his own, knowing injury like I do, I couldn’t imagine the pain he was going through, but as he says himself “it’s all in the head” id have phoned mammy :)

The next bike section was a short one, up to a wild run up a boggy stream, at times I was knee deep in fowl smelling mud, but the places we were running was breath taking. You could do nothing but smile, smile at the laughter of others as they knew where not to step, the feckers!

I washed my feet and shoes in the stream, while Ciaran followed behind. We hooked up again at transition as I encouraged him on. I was still laughing (on the inside-he is a big guy!!! As his friends nephew had asked him if he was stuck in reverse   while at the bottom of the last mountain run. Those same kids where in transition and had refilled my water bottle while I was up the hill trying to drown my knees in S$!t* amazing stuff

Another mtb section to the wet waters of carlingford Lough, and the 2km kayak, the long mtb section up over a mountain, down through a steep rock filled path and into a wilds fields filled with ferns and through a stream, by a rundown stone building and up a famine road, across some sheep tracks, over some boulders and water awaited

Gally came into his own on this section, the kayak, the former young Munster rugby player, hauled my carcass across the lake, I would class myself as decent in a kayak but i struggled in the sit on top version without any support for my back my abdominals went into spasm on the way back, as we were greeted to a down pour of gods water and the scene of a bride screaming and running for cover as her wedding pictures were interrupted by a heavy shower. It didn’t last long. As we ditched the kayak, the safety equipment for another run around the town up around the castle, it was great to hear the claps of those who had earlier finished the Tarmac version of the event.

The last run takes you up to the very scenic ruins of the castle and a picturesque town with views across the lake and all the way the down the Lough. I had time to remiss about the last time I had passed through their while chewing a handle bar during the Rás in 2010

Finishing the event in 5hrs 37 mins with a huge smile. A great training session for the Monster in Killaloe in a few weeks, I got to test out my new compressport compression gear in the toughest of conditions and make sure my powerbar products could fuel the monster within.

Big thank you to gally, Michelle and all his family for the hospitality and thank you to all the friends for helping to turn the year around, there is a lot of things that combined to make me change my mind, it wasn’t a simple decision, a yes or no question but the one thing I know for sure is I love what sport give you, the camaraderie

Onwards and upwards for 2011, to erase the past is to forget the future, what has been has shaped us, what will come will forge us

Train smart: Train happy
Stephan Teeling-Lynch

Posted July 2010 

Columbia CLEC Winners 2010

 

Columbia Carlingford Lough Endurance Challenge

2009 – Sat. 11th July, 2009

The 9th Columbia ‘CLEC’ and its followers besieged the village of Carlingford and the surrounding Cooley Mountains, for its annual adventure race. Teams from all over Ireland arrived at the wonderful setting of Carlingford Sailing Club for registration on a damp and misty morning. However, this did not deter 49 three person teams signing on for the challenge that lay ahead. It was to start with a 8k run from the centre of the village up to ‘Slate Rock’ and on the Golyin Pass, through Barnavave (Maeve’s Gap) down to the forest fire road, and then onto the high road back to carlingford. It was tough going in the mist with visibility down to 30m, which made finding the Control Punches and direction markers very difficult. It wasn’t helped by the fact that some punches were taken the previous day and direction arrows moved !!! The first complete team to arrive was Team 39 of Barry Tinnelly, Peter Grant and Brian Coughlan (51:55), followed by Team 1, Paul Mahon, Beth McCluskey and Eamonn Horgan (50:42) The final team of Chris Rogers David Duffy and Shane Garvey coming into transition in 1:14:24.

Onto the mountain bikes and it was up the fire road in Slieve Foy Forest, then following ‘The Táin Way’ to Omeath, on up to the ‘Long Woman’s Grave’ to the bike drop at T2 for the 4k run up to the lake at Slievenaglogh. First to arrive and moving into the lead was Team 3 of Gerry McCabe, Ray O’Shaughnessy and Johnny McCabe with Paul Mahon’s team in hot pursuit. A very difficult run in the conditions, but most teams completing it in under 48 minutes. Local team of Ruaidhri Stewart, Robert Kinnahan and Declan McCabe having the fastest split time of 26 minutes. Back on the bikes and onto the mountain single tracks, along ‘Skull Alley’ to T3 at the ‘Windy  Gap’ for the 2k summit run up to Fox’s Rock. Fastest split was 15 minutes by Team 1.

From here it was back on the trails, up the ‘Famine Road’ to Golyin Pass once more, this time for the wonderful roller/coaster single track decent into Carlingford and transition zone. With a full tide lapping the shore line and a stiff south, easterly blowing up the Lough, the Kayaks awaited the weary competitors. A pair would kayak over to the Convent Steeps below St. John’s Castle one of which would change with the third member who ran around to meet them. This was repeated four times in the rough challenging conditions under the vigil eye of ten canoes from the Dundalk Canoe Club and two Sailing Club Ribs. Team 3 of Ray O’Shaughnessy and the McCabe brothers had a 20 minute lead on Paul Mahon’s team, he having been on six previous winnings teams. Following this was a 2k run to, up and around St John’s Castle through the village and back to the finish. Team 3 crossing the Columbia finish gantry in a time of 4:35:35, followed by Team 1 in 4:54:44, and in third Team 39 in a time of 5:14:56. Bare a thought for the two final teams who put in a superb performance in this their first ever event of this time Team 22 of Mairead Clarke, Clare Maher and Paul Byrne (7:54:31) and the final finishers Team 24, Marie Higgins, Andy Hewitt and Barry Casey (7:54:31). Well done all of ye.

A big thank you to all marshals on the day, Carlingford Red Cross, LMFM road caster, Dundalk Canoe Club, the local Garda, Jade Events, Lucozade Sport, Joe & Paul the motor bike marshals, Outsider, Jade Events, Coillte,Carlingford Sailing Club and its members and staff, to Kelly the masseuse, Tommy the Bikes and Outdoor Xchange, and of course Columbia for its quality finisher t-shirts. The evening ended with ‘Elvis’ not leaving the building ‘till late, very late !!! And finally, to all the competitors, who travelled from near and afar and who braved the elements and the challenge they conquered. Hopefully we’ll see you all again in 2010 for the ‘Special’ 10th anniversary of the ’CLEC’.

Slán abhaile and Happy Trails.

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Some more pics    #mce_temp_url#


2008 – Saturday, 12th July, 2008

The 8th Outdoor Exchange (CLEC) Carlingford Lough Endurance Challenge race took place once again in the picturesque village of Carlingford on the shores of Carlingford Lough at the Sailing Club. This year’s test of endurance for the athletes was of a similar nature to previous years and as tough as before…. A total of 50k of rugged Cooley Mountain terrain involving a 16k run, taking in the peak runs of both the Fox’s Rock and Slieve Foy, 26k MTB section, 6k sea kayak relay paddle, finishing with a 2k run around St. Johns Castle and through the village to the finish line at the Sailing Club.

The early morning sun greeted the teams as they arrived from all over Ireland, and shone on the many tents that pitched the night before. After the race briefing the athletes gathered behind the Carlingford Piped Band providing a fantastic atmosphere for the now traditional parade through the village to the start line. At 10.15am Johnny McCabe blew the whistle for the start of a long day, for the 48 three person teams entered.

The first run consisting of 10k of fire road and mt. trails. For those that know the area the race started in Carlingford Village and then headed up towards the church on the tarmac towards Sleive Foy forest.  Seamus Byrne, Ray O’Shaughnessy and David McKeown, were in the mix with the best. Up onto the upper mountain above the tree line. It was then back down along the fire road which brings you in above the castle in Carlingford… down through the castle from here and its a short jog back to the sailing club where the mt bikes were waiting for all. They were to hold the lead at the start of the Mtb section, 26k of trails with some tarmac in there for good measure.

On the bikes and into the ‘Bull Ring’ for a quick circuit of a very technical assault  course erected by JADE Events who also provided a fantastic transition area, finishing gantry and awards podium for the day. Riders who dabbed or elected not to try some obstacles had to serve time in the ‘Sin Bin’. Then it was off through the village towards the church and up the fire-road from hell once again !! Heading up to the barrier where another CP point was….. from here it was down the NPS track and across the river crossing….turn right just after it and you head down to the bottom car park… .from here, down a fast single track which brought you down to the main road…. onwards from here towards Omeath when just as you hit the Village it tacks up left up a tarmac minor road following the Táin Trail. The cramps set in as they hit the long tarmac climb to the Windy Gap. Myles McCorry (‘faster than the speed of light- fact !’) was there to direct them for the very tough climb up the Fox’s Rock were another check point awaited at the summit. The first mixed team of Paul Mahon, Beth McCluskey and Gerry Lawlor appeared and went into a short lead coming off the rock. It was then up the ‘Grassy climb’ towards ‘skull alley’ … along scull alley taking in another two CP’s before arriving at the Long woman’s grave once again. There, at the windy gap there was another short road section, then left off road up onto the mountain once again for some more technical trails towards the old famine road towards the shoulder of Slieve Foy. Hitting the crest of the shoulder… The wonderful sight of Carlingford down below. It was left towards the bottom of Slieve Foy where the bikes were dropped for the short but very steep run climb to the summit. Paul Mahon’s team now overtaking David Mc Keown’s local team and the team of Eoin Keith, Bob Boles and Chris Caughfield making a charge into second position overall………why didn’t I go out biking more..!!!!

Descending all the way to into Carlingford….. right back to the sailing club… what a descent… An amazing roller coasted…with many teams missing the CP 11 mark, but it was there !!! with the last team completing that check. Arriving back into the sailing club dropping the bikes off…. The teams head for the Kayaks and 6k of relay paddle…..water is choppy but the wind is not as bad as earlier …. One team member must run across to the other side of the bay and be there before the other two team members arrive in the Kayak , once there the cards are punched and a change over is made before setting off out to the buoy which looks miles away…. into a head wind with choppy seas…… its not long before legs are cramping again and arms are hanging off … Team pass each other in the opposite direction… turning at the buoy and heading for the sailing club… Closed eyes and keep digging the paddle into the water… must get to the shore..must get to the shore…. arrive at the slipway another change over, four to go, map punched….. in the boat and head off… ..break into a jog…. and its off to the castle again…. punch the map and its off again.

Last change over, out and rounding the buoy…… home is in sight…. hitting the slipway at the sailing club, all three members Mahon, McCluskey and Lawlor reunited for the final run along the sea front…….. on to the castle… up the steps….and a quick loop through the centre of Carlingford… Satisfied with a job well done, not far to the finish now and turning the corner into the sailing club… delighted to finish. First team finishing in a time of 4 hours 59 minutes and the final team, the local men, Oliver Murphy (smiling all the way, almost !) Vincent Loughran and Michael Hanlon arriving in in a time of 7 hours 39 minutes…. a very good day out.

After a wonderful steak BBQ in the Sailing Club….the night was only starting and the party just begun with ‘the Willing Fools’ providing a great nights entertainment.

Thanks once again to the Carlingford Piped Band for a wonderful pre-battle march, the local Garda, Carlingford Red Cross and Gabriel O’Loughlin,  Outdoor Xchange, Tony Kelly from Sustainablehomes.ie & JADE Events, Carlingford Sailing Club, Fyffee’s, Dundalk Canoe Club, Laura McCabe And Paddy Bell time keepers for the day and all the other Volunteers on the day. It simply would not happen without them !!! Next Year, for sure, where the normal limits will not apply !!!!!!!!!

2007 – Saturday, 11th July, 2007

7th Annual Carlingford Lough Endurance Challenge

‘ The Last Shall Be First and the First Shall Be Last ‘

The annual Outdoor Exchange CLEC endurance race took place once again in the picturesque village of Carlingford on the shores of Carlingford Lough at the Sailing Club. This years test of endurance for the athletes was to be the longest to date…. tougher than ever before…. A total of 63k of rugged Cooley Mountain terrain involving a 16k run, 42k MTB section, 6k sea kayak relay paddle, finishing with a 2k run around St. Johns Castle and through the village to the finish line at the Sailing Club.

The early morning sun greeted the teams as they arrives from all over Ireland, and shone on the many tents that pitched the night before. After the race briefing the athletes gathered behind the Carlingford piped band for the now traditional parade through the village to the start line.

At 10am Brendan Cunningham dropped the flag for the start of a long day, for the fifty teams entered. The first run longer then ever, consisting of 16k of fire road and mt. trails. For those that know the area the race started in Carlingford Village and then headed up towards the church on the tarmac towards the forest below Maeve’s Gap which took you to a very steep section which brings you up to the shoulder on Slieve Foy…. from here it headed across the side of the mountain over to the forest above the quarry. Dave Gill, Yvain Sugno and Evan Ryan, were in the mix with the best of the rest as the three leaders, Don Travers, Aaron O’Donohugh and John McEnri, had already made a significant break. On the descent various teams struggled a bit with the impact running off road downhill presents. It was then along the fireroad (yes that long long fireroad) to get to the car park, down the tarmac all the way to the main road…. jogging along this for a while before taking a tarmac track back up the hill on to a road which brings you in above the castle in Carlingford… down through the castle from here and its a short jog back to the sailing club where the mt bikes were waiting for all. GPS info tells you that the run was 16km’s….

43k of Cooley mt trails….. at this point it was through the village towards the church and up the fireroad from hell again.!! Heading up to the barrier where the feed zone was to try and quell the cramping…… from here it was down the NPS track and across the river crossing….turn right just after it and you head down to the bottom carpark… .from here, down a fantastic single track which brought you down to the main road…. onwards from here towards Omeath when just as you hit the Village it tacks up left up a tarmac minor road following the Táin Trail. Then the cramps set in as they hit the long tarmac climb to the mast and Black Mountain. The first female team of Moire O’Sullivan, Melanie Spath and Jenny Kilbride had a comfortable lead in their section. Another check point awaited the mountain bikers as they arrived at the mast taking advantage of the feed zone and downing some Gel’s and bars hoping it would give that extra oooomph…….down the descent from the mast , right down a really nice fast grassy track (Poc Fada road) which brought you to the road at Ravansdale… then heading towards the Lumpers. At lumpers it was up the looooong fireroad all the way to the top before joining the 2006 marathon course and heading off road over towards the windy gap… as second placed team of Dave Gill, Yvain Sugno and Evan Ryan hit the descent down towards ‘skull alley’ they could hear the voice of Paul Mahon along with Gerry Lowlor and Bob Boles who were back in third place at this stage a few hundred meters behind…. along scull alley before arriving at the Long woman’s grave….. Once there at the windy gap there was another long road section, then left off road up the old roman/famine road towards the shoulder of Slieve Foy…a more technical section than other trails. Hitting the crest of the shoulder… The wonderful sight of Carlingford down below.

The body’s holding up questions being asked of oneself… why didn’t I do some training.. why didn’t I go out running…why didn’t I go out biking..!!!! Descend all the way to Carlingford….. right back to the sailing club… what a descent… An amazing roller coasted… Arriving back into the sailing club dropping the bikes off…. The teams head for the Kayaks and 6k of relay paddle…..water is choppy but the wind is not as bad as earlier but its still brisk enough…. One team member must run across to the other side of the bay and be there before the other two team members arrive in the Kayak , once there the cards are punched and a change over is made before setting off out to the buoy which looks miles away…. into a head wind with choppy seas…… its not long before legs are cramping again and arms are hanging off … Team pass each other in the opposite direction… turning at the buoy and heading for the sailing club… Closed eyes and keep digging the paddle into the water… must get to the shore..must get to the shore…. arrive at the slipway another change over, four to go, map punched….. in the boat and head off… walking like a robot up the slipway…each step hurting beyond belief….. ouch ouch ouch….. shake of the pain..break into a jog…. and its off to the castle again…. punch the map and its off again……. back onto the choppy ocean… Legs are cramping yet again…..

So onwards….. paddle and try and ignore the pain in the legs… The buoy seems further away this time, the crowds shouting encouragement but it falls on deaf ears….. This is reality..not a movie…. can’t just start running like the guys in Chariots of fire….. eventually breaking into a jog and head towards the castle……. Last change over, out and rounding the buoy…… home is in sight….. ‘only twenty more strokes’ hitting the slipway at the sailing club, all three members reunited for the final run along the sea front…….. on to the castle… up the steps….and a quick loop through the centre of Carlingford… bursting with pride for getting through it with people clapping as you pass them and shouting words of encouragement….. not far to the finish now and turning the corner into the sailing club… delighted to even finish it given the fact it was the toughest CLEC to date….. next year…… there is always next year…………………First team was Don Travers & Co. ( Team No. 50) coming home in 5 hours 11 min and the final finisher Paul Crowley, Fergal Reid and Vincent McGrory (Team No. 1) crossing the line in 8 hours 8 mins…. a very good day out……… if you haven’t done it yet then do so next year….the night was only starting and the party just begun.

Thanks once again to the local Garda, C’ford Red Cross and Gabrial O’Loughlin, Intereg, Carlingford Sailing Club, and all the Volunteers on the day. It simply would not happen without them !!!


2006 – 25th July 2006


Enjoying the nice weather, many eager spectators gathered around the Sailing Club to watch the participants prepare for the daunting challenge that lay before them. A 9k hill run to start with followed by 34k of mountain biking, 9k of sea kayaking and the Foxes Rock peak run. The race was started by Karen McCabe, home on holidays from New Zealand at 10.30 a.m. after a parade through the streets of village, lead by the Carlingford Piped Band.

A record field of 54 teams of three (160 participants) were registered for the race. The conditions were challenging for the athletes because of the weather – it was a misty morning and a sunny afternoon.

After 9k kilometers of running up the side of Sleive Foy, the starters embarked on the 34 kilometers of mountain biking, which included the now legendary skull ally, and the peak run at the Foxes Rock. The 9 kilometer kayak section, back after two years absence, took every last ounce of strength from  the starters. It was to be a three loop paddle with a change over of one peddler at each turn around, 5 in all.

The great atmosphere at the finish line lasted for well over 4 hours as the teams crossed the finish line, the last official finisher came in some 7 hours 57 mins after the start. Set in the historical village of  Carlingford , the finish line was at the new sailing club.

Local radio station LMFM created an party atmosphere that left athletes and spectators celebrating for hours on end.

To enthusiastic cheers from the many of spectators at the finish line, Ray O’Shaughnessy, Gerry McCabe and Johnny McCabe were the first team to cross the finish line in 4h 7m, having passed Team Worc from Wicklow, including team member, Robin Seymour, an Irish mountain biking Olympian, Dave Gill and Evan Ryan (4h 9m) with just kilometres to go. Previous 5 times winner, Paul Mahon, Beth McCluskey and Gerry Lawor (4h 31m) finished third.

The support of many locals, both spectators and volunteers – more than 40 of them, plus the athletes sportive efforts, have once more helped to make this year´s CLEC an unforgettable and first-class sport event with such a positive vibe to it. Thanks goes to the local Red Cross, Garda and the ladies at the sailing club who turned out a first class steak BBQ to revitalise all the athletes and volunteers. The event supported Cross Cause, and the evening finish with Conor Hughes and his band extinguishing any energy left over after the days activity.

CLEC  2005

CLEC 2004

Winners Eamonn Horgan; Beth McCluskey; Paul Mahon

CLEC  2003

Winners:- John McHenri; Paul Mahon; Eamon Horgan

Second: Cunningham, Gray, McCabe

CLEC  2002

CLEC  2001  Winners

WINNERS – Crusaders AC ( Dublin )
Beth Mc Cluskey , Paul Mahon , Eamon Horgan , Peter O Farrell (4 in Centre)

Barry Minnock , Damien Courtney, Fachtna Healy, Nina Phillips

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