Mid-life Crisis by Ray Mitchell

Mid-life Crisis by Ray Mitchell

Ray Mitchell here writing a report on my Art O’Neill challenge!

People might wonder what is Art O’Neill. It’s a race for the pros, or just a challenge for the likes of me, of 53 km over road, muck and hills. It starts in Dublin Castle at 12 midnight, and after a bag check (to make sure all your gear is working properly, 2 of everything plus a first aid kit), things get serious. You then pick up your number, your bag gets tagged and sent to the van that brings them to the first check point. Once checked, we head down to the rest room to relax. Relaxing is only for the pros, everyone else is shitting themselves! Some people are eating themselves stupid, some just sitting there saying what the heck have I got myself into? So from 9pm to 11.30pm it’s in and out of the loo 10 times (too much information!).

The tension starts to build with 15 minutes to go, then we’re off out the gates. I am starting to wonder how people can walk so fast, out the gates and gone. It was good to have everyone looking out their windows cheering us on. The city centre is very quiet and little groups start to form, I got in with two guys, one who came from the U.S. just to do this challenge. We swop names, but generally not much talking. Your head starts to settle down a bit, as does your stomach and your mind starts to daydream about a lot of things. It’s quiet but getting a bit windy, little did I know how bad it was going to get after 9 km!

We leave the city lights, head torches are put on, and it gets quiet once more, so my mind starts to think about family and friends that are here and have gone before us, especially of a very good friend of mine Sean Henry who only buried his daughter that day. Life is precious, so live it to the full. 15 km into this challenge and I am feeling good. People are overtaking me but not to worry, I know my strength is in the hills which start to come, and off I go overtaking some of the people who had taken me earlier. People are very good and gracious just like in the DCM, the only difference is that it’s so quiet and calm. 25 km into the race rain starts to come down and the wind starts to howl, not nice even for a person like me who works in it all the time.

The first check point is at 30 km… food, warm fire and a change of clothes as the ones I am wearing are soaked. Lots of bodies everywhere, bodies half naked, nobody cares. This is where the guides ask if you need help to get the rest of the way, but Ray says he is ok… stupid move… nobody told me there’s no street lights in the mountains! The next 12 km were probably the worst time of my life… cold and wet from head to toe, gale force winds and nowhere to get shelter. We had to cross a river so I got very cold… decisions had to be made.

The bus of shame was there, so it was an easy choice… a bit of heat at last. Pride was hurt, but nobody died. The trip back to the finish seemed to take ages. The disappointment turned to joy when fellow club mate Ciara ran through the finish line. Well done to her… a tough cookie! Caroline Reid was at the finish line to console me, which helped a lot. She also promised to return with me to Wicklow in the next few weeks to finish it. There are a few places left if anyone wants to come with us.

That’s about it, except for a few people to thank…  my running mates, who are always full of encouragement, Donal for physio work, my family who think I am going through a mid-life crisis, and Michelle my wife who has finally put socks on the weekly shopping list (bread, milk, ham and socks). She’s a great wife and friend who has had her own battles to fight, but is always there for me. That’s all from me. It’s an honour to be asked to write this. All complaints to be sent to my editorial director Aoiffe.

P.S. Life is a roller coaster… you just got to hold on tight… and run, jog or walk it.

Categories: Senior News & Reports

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