The Turas Adventure Race in Ireland that we competed in during June has been thrown out of the World Series because of financial difficulties, so says a statement on the AR World Series website. This comes as a disappointment but not really as a huge surprise. We finished 6th and were thankful of just finishing inside the prize money as reward for some hard effort, but alas the prize money has not been forthcoming and, so it seems, we are not the only team to have been let down on this. As the race slipped further into the memory it seemed more and more unlikely that any money would appear and with the ever deepening financial hole that is the Irish economy it was presumed that the Irish tourist board, who were presumably putting up the prize fund, had blown their budget on prawn sandwiches and were scraping the whisky barrel for shavings to keep the fires going.
It seems that local businesses involved in the race haven’t been paid either, which makes it all the more likely that a bitter taste will be left in the area and the likelihood of it going ahead in 2009 is probably waining, so thoughts of a 2010 World Champs there should be far from the mind.
At the time, our own feelings on the race were a bit mixed. We’d mostly had a great time and really enjoyed (most of) the course, which was pretty well planned and executed on the whole. There were mistakes, some big, some small, but none serious enough to really harm the race and as far as I am aware most of the teams had a great time. The most obvious failing with the race course was a late start time for the rowing section which was clear from the start was going to mean all the top teams would reach it long before it opened, negating any need to push hard for the first two days, as all the teams would restart on an equal footing on the Thursday. Arriving earlier than Thursday morning just gave time to sleep and eat and on restart it was essentially a 30 hour blast to the finish, so not a true expedition race.
On the plus side the hospitality was phenomenal, the value for money from the entry fee was superb, the race course sections were pretty much all interesting and of good length and the scenery was amazing. The organisers had taken a lot on in staging such a big race in such a short space of time and we did have fears before we arrived that it would all work out, however, most of the niggles were minor – like issuing a specific kit list that was repeatedly altered right up to the race start, that wasn’t actually adhered to in kit checks anyway. Then there was the much publicised but, it seems, never actually confirmed (or even properly recc’ed) zip line across the Gap of Dunloe, which never happened because it simply wasn’t practically possible to do and the repositioning of the activity caused a whole bunch of problems for some teams. They worked hard to include the zip line and fair play to them for making it happen, but promoting something that wasn’t going to happen just to generate media interest was pretty poor form.
Niggles aside the race was good fun and was a great chance to mix it up alongside some top teams, but whether the race goes ahead again and whether any top teams would actually sign on we’ll just have to wait and see.
(P.S. If anyone found all my kayaking gear at the hostel at the end of the race then I’d really like to hear from you, there was some quite distinctive stuff in there…)