It’s one of the busiest weeks of Paul O’Brien’s year. Tomorrow he welcomes over 2,000 participants to the start line of Westport’s Sea 2 Summit.
Let’s take you back to the beginning in 2010.
Adventure racing was experiencing an explosion in popularity and the Westport Hotel Group spotted an opportunity to bring an adventure race to the west coast of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Paul completed the race in 2010 with over 700 other participants and in 2011 he was asked to consider taking over as Race Director and he’s been at the helm ever since.
It seems fitting that an adventure race would take place in an adventure playground such as Westport with Croagh Patrick standing proud above the beauty of Clew Bay.
Fast forward 13 years and this year over 2,000 of you have registered for race day. Registration opened in August and sold out in a matter of week. Paul has attested to the popularity of the race. “We could allow another 2,000 to enter to meet demand but we cap participants to ensure everyone’s safety and to protect the mountain.”
And speaking of safety, Paul was keen to point out the race wouldn’t be possible without over 80 race marshals on the day and countless volunteers from the Civil Defense, Gardai and Mayo Mountain Rescue.
And for Paul the best part of the race is “The buzz about the town. There’s a deep sense of community. With over 2,000 registered, we have lots of their family and friends visiting Westport for the weekend and this helps showcase Westport.” Of course, tourism is at the heart of Westport’s economy and the influx of people is a fantastic way to showcase our hotels, restaurants, and retail stores all while under the canopy of “The Reek” as Croagh Patrick is locally known.
The most challenging part of the race “is the weather. Its normal to experience 4 seasons in 1 day on the west coast” Paul pointed out the forecast for Saturday is a gentle breeze from the north so while it won’t be the wildest race in terms of wind, the northern wind promises to bring cold air. And you can’t mention Westport’s Sea2Summit without speaking of the physical and mental challenges of the race. Those in the Spirit category race to the shoulder of The Reek and those in the Supreme category race to the summit.
The best piece of advice from Paul if this is your first year to race Sea 2 Summit is “Run your own event. Compete to your level. It’s so easy to get swept up in the wave of people as soon as the race starts so you want to pace yourself. Focus on enjoying the race and not on your time. Above all else, enjoy it”.
Why do people do it Paul? “It’s a challenging multi discipline event under the stunning backdrop of Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay. Its the biggest adventure race in the country of its kind.” And while safety is paramount for Paul and his team, there is an inherent level of danger with an adventure race and this is why you need to carry a mandatory kit with you incase of an emergency out on the course. And for some of you, the challenge is the attraction.
The next race in the calendar is The Westport Marathon with full, half and 10k categories in April. Registration for next year’s Sea 2 Summit opens mid summer 2024 and with the event selling out every year you’ll need to book your spot fast.
You can pick up your mandatory race kit online or instore and don’t forget a super cosy fleece for after the race to help warm you up. :)