IRONMAN Shane McGale said completing ‘The Race’ had been one of the most rewarding experiences in his career as an endurance athlete.
And the sense of real satisfaction at crossing the finish line had been enhanced by the fact that the Omagh Tri Club member had played the good Samaritan in the final leg of the challenge. After beginning with a half marathon, canoeing 15km, cycling a combined total of 160km, crossing over Muckish Mountain (5km), athletes completed the notoriously challenging Donegal-based event by running a full marathon.
During that final 26km Shane paired up with a fellow competitor Adrian Wolsley who was struggling with a knee injury.
“When I got off the bike, I ran to catch the competitor in front of me,” said Shane. He had a sore knee and he said he didn’t think he was going to make it.
“I had a quick look at the watch and realised time was on our side. I suggested we walk it together and help each other. That’s what we did, it was great camaraderie, a bit of craic.
“He shook my hand before the finish line and thanked me for helping him but I told that he had helped me as well. Organisers had recommended you buddy up in the final run because it would be hard on the mind. At the end of the day that’s what sport is all about – helping each other.”
Shane completed the 250km event in 23.20 minutes and because the weather was favourable felt he had met the physical challenge head on.
He’s plans to return next year but as a marshall and not a competitor.
“I think it would be good to put something back, so that’s the plan,” he continued.
“It takes a lot of volunteers for an event like this.
“For me I suppose the hardest part was not knowing what to expect.
“The evening before I learned there were cut-off points that you had to meet to ensure that you could continue. I hadn’t anticipated that and it got me thinking.
“Truthfully it’s all about having a strong head. For me it was never about completing it in a certain time, it was just about completing it.
“It was one of the best events I have ever done and I certainly got to see the Donegal scenery, a lot of Donegal scenery.”