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Participants cross the finish line of Quest Lough Derg 2022

GALLERY: Lough Derg area makes big impression on Quest athletes

Champion Chatter Podcast

MORE than 1,300 competitors flocked to the shores of Lough Derg on Saturday to participate in the return to east Clare of a major adventure race.

Last weekend saw the second staging of Quest Lough Derg, an arduous challenge for athletes in Killaloe and Ballina following the inaugural event in 2019.

Fine weather, with temperatures reaching 22 degrees, allowed athletes and supporters to maximise Quest Lough Derg and its stunning location, sold-out since August.

The race makes itself accessible to athletes on all levels, from beginners to experienced racers, with its three routes: the 22km ‘Challenge’, the 45km ‘Sport’ and the 69km ‘Expert’, starting and finishing at various points in Killaloe and Ballina.

Competitors were able to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Tountinna, Garrykennedy, Ballycuggaran and Moylussa. After the event, competitors were treated to hot food, music and a festival-like atmosphere at the finish line.

The winners of the Expert Route were Shaun Stewart and Laura O’Driscoll. The Sport Route was won by Bernard Smyth and Niamh Cleary, while the Challenge Route was won by Larry Stapleton and Margaret O’Friel.

Athletes interviewed by the Clare Champion praised the amazing scenery that was provided as the backdrop for this event.

Peter Howard, Macroom, Co Cork, who was one of the top performers in the Sport route, said this was his first time competing in Lough Derg, which he described as a beautiful place.

“I will come back to this area socially again. I would have previously gone on breaks to the West and North West. I am always training for events like this.”

Niamh Cleary from Meath, who is leading the Quest Adventure Series, was the first female home in the Sport Route that consists of 7.5 km bike, 7 km run, 14 km bike, 200 metre run, 4 km bike, one kilometre kayak, 7km run, 4 km bike and one kilometre.

“When you get a chance to take a breath the views are stunning. It was spectacular. That is why we come. I would stay here for a weekend, everyone was really welcoming.”

Niall Donnelly, Cavan, who completed the Sport event for the first time in Killaloe, said the scenery in the locality is stunning “if you had time to look at it”.

“There is a great buzz around the area. When I came on Friday night to pick up my kit, there were people sitting outside enjoying themselves on the river front. I really enjoyed the event and the whole experience.”

Declan Bagnall, Trim, Co Meath, returned to Killaloe to complete the Sport route for the second time.

“Killaloe is a lovely spot. The runs up the mountain are lovely. The views are superb. I will come back again to do the race.”

John Lee, Trim, Co Meath, travelled to Killaloe for the first time to completed the Expert event. “The scenery is amazing. The mountain runs are very tough, they would bring you to a walk in some parts. I am training six days a week running and cycling. It is good for the head to clear the mind.

The towns around here are beautiful. I will come back to the area again on a social event.”

Enda O’Brien, Crusheen, who completed the Sport event, said cycling in and out of Killaloe and Ballina is beautiful.

“When you are on top looking down on the lake, the scenery is stunning. I did this event in 2019. I do triathlons mainly. This is different to a triathlon, which is generally flat, but this is all hills. This is much more difficult than a triathlon. My training involves running, cycling and swimming.”

William Powell, Dolla, Nenagh, who completed the Sport event, returned to Killaloe after participating in Quest back in 2019.

“I train two or three times a week depending on work. It is great to get an event like this on your doorstep. There is a great buzz around Killaloe and Ballina. There is a tourism spin off from this event for all the local towns.”

Garret Fitzpatrick, who lives in Kildysart, took part in the Sport event for the first time, regularly comes to climb Moylussa with his children to take in the “unreal” scenery.

“East Clare can be sometimes overlooked for a scenery aspect. The scenery in East Clare is fabulous. People have come to participate in Quest from Cork, Kerry and Dublin and they have brought some family, which contributes to the huge economic spin-off from this event.”

Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland said investing in participative festivals like this not only attracts competitors from around Ireland and overseas, it also encourages families and supporters to stay and explore the local area, which in turn is beneficial for local businesses and drives the local economy.

“These events also showcase the fantastic outdoor activity offering we have in Ireland, and are hugely important as we drive recovery across the tourism sector.”

Quest Lough Derg will return to Lough Derg on September 9, 2023.

Expert Full Results
1st Male: Shaun Stewart 3:07:25
2nd Male: Sebastian Giraud 3:13:52
3rd Male: Niall Davis 3:15:21

1st Female: Laura O’Driscoll 3:40:32
2nd Female: Ger Kelly 3:59:29
3rd Female: Danielle O Connell 4:16:34

Sport Full Results
1st male: Bernard Smyth 2:19:59
2nd male: Declan Donnellan 2:20:34
3rd male : Kevin Mc Guinness 2:21:11

1st Female: Niamh Cleary 2:40:00
2nd Female: Gill Heery 2:48:45
3rd Female: Sharon Martin 2:49:34

Challenge Full Results
1st Male: Larry Stapleton: 01:28:39
2nd Male: Lochlainn O’Shea: 01:34:50
3rd Male: Martin Donnellan: 01:36:16

1st Female: Margaret O’Friel: 01:29:22
2nd Female: Helen Duffy: 01:40:42
3rd Female: Steph Reynolds: 01:40:56

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