Editor’s Note: Our staff member Dylan Dougherty won a trip to Ireland, where he is competing in the coast-to-coast Race to Kinvara relay, courtesy of Saucony. This is his third, and final, dispatch.
Day 3 of the Race to Kinvara kicked off with a three-hour bus ride to the Cliffs of Moher to squeeze in a tad bit more tourism before running the second day of relay legs. (If this is at all confusing, it’s because the first day of this grand adventure was devoted to orientation and other non-running activities.) Moher was truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to, and I was sad to leave. It started raining a little, and we packed up for the trip to Doolin where we would start running again.
The second day’s relay legs run along the coast of Western Ireland, with beautiful hills and cliffs to add to the ocean backdrop. It felt a little like if you were to run up highway 101 along the Oregon coast. The winds had picked up and were steady gale force all day which made running quite interesting. We started the day with a 3.5 minute lead over team USA Grey.
The first leg went off strong and we came through in second place. The second leg was a very hilly 8.5 miles. Team grey had a mishap where the bus got lost so their runner lost some time there (although they may have had some time subtracted in the final results). Every time we stopped for a runner exchange I couldn’t help myself from taking pictures. At one stop we were at a well of spring water that runs down from a mountain, and it tasted amazing.
Our bus driver had gotten tired and had some miscommunications about the requirements for time behind the wheel. He almost quit on us which would have made life really interesting. We got him to keep on with us, though.
Stage 5 was my time to go. I think it may have been the hardest run I have ever done. It was 5.8 miles and it started off great. I had about 30 seconds on USA Grey behind me. The stage started off downhill and with the wind at my back, leading to a very fast first mile and a half. Then we turned a corner and ran along a bay. The wind was as strong as it was at any point in the day, and also directly in my face. At mile 3.5 I was caught by the USA Grey runner, but I think this actually helped me. I kept him in my sights (probably 10 seconds ahead). With a mile to go he started getting tired, so I passed him back and somehow pushed through the wind to keep the size of the lead I started the stage with. I really thought my bib was going to rip in half or fly off my singlet from the wind, but those pesky safety pins did a good job holding on. There was an ice cream shop at this stage transition, so after I laid my body down for a minute, I went in and got a scoop with sprinkles. It was glorious.
On the eighth and final stage, our team captain Emily was the anchor. We started it off with a minute or two lead, but team grey had their fastest runner run the leg, too. (Apparently there was an “injury,” so not everyone on their team ran.) Emily ran really fast. She was passed by the guy, nevertheless, and he gained a lot of space. As a team we hopped out of the bus and ran the last 800 meters or so with her to cross the line together, though some of us couldn’t keep up with her! We crossed in second place. Unfortunately, we did not win, but we had more fun that I ever could have imagined! Second place isn’t too awful either, especially being that close after 120 miles and eight different runners!
We sat around and got massages by the bay and then hung out in a pub until all 10 teams crossed the line. Then we drove up to Galway for our hotel and closing dinner. Awards were given out for a number of things (we won best team photo with a local for a picture with a bagpiper), and then we were entertained by some Irish dancing and a band.
This trip was amazing. I truly enjoyed nearly everyone I met and ran with, and made a few new friends. I hope I can somehow get a chance to do this again, or at least hope someone from our store can win an entry to it next year!
Now, on to a full day of travel home and rest so I can get back to work! Thank you, Saucony!