Donegal is staging its first ever Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Cycle Race this weekend along the county’s rugged Atlantic coast.
Cyclists from all over Ireland, the UK and Europe are taking on the 560km challenge which begins on Friday evening in Letterkenny.
For one Letterkenny family it is very much a big family event. Five of the Robinson family, brothers Philip and Boyd, and their sisters Catherine McKinley, Emma McGee and Ann Robinson, are all competing in the challenge.
Emma’s husband Patrick McGee is also doing the event which brings the extended family number to six.
“We have all done adventure races,” explained Philip this week.
“The girls are all members of the Letterkenny 24/7 Triathlon Club and Patrick McGee is in training for next year’s 24 hour race.
“Given that we are all into adventure racing we decided it would be a good idea to do it as a family.
“It’s not often nowadays, with everybody leading busy lives, that we get to do things as a family so we felt this was an ideal opportunity to do something that will be both enjoyable and a challenge.”
The Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Race takes in some of the most scenic areas of the county. The route takes in Malin head, Mamore Gap, Knockalla, Atlantic Drive, Horn Head, Carrickfinn, Glengesh Pass, Sliabh League and Barnesmore Gap. The maximum time allowed for the 560 kms is 60 hours.
The event is open to individual racers or teams. While the solo category is aimed at serious athletes, the team categories are open to cyclists of all abilities. Racers in the team categories cycle in a relay format with frequency of change-over being at the discretion of the team and crew.
“We plan on doing it in 40 to 50 kilometre stages with each of us doing a little over 90 kilometres and hopefully we can complete it within the 60 hour,” said Philip who is doing most of his cycling through the night.
The race begins tomorrow morning at 10am at the Mount Errigal Hotel and heads to Malin Head. The finishing line is also at the Mount Errigal with the first of the competitors expected back in Letterkenny as early as 10 am on Saturday.
The entries for the event have closed with 50 individual and seven teams competing which the organisers are happy with given this is the first running of the event.
Each competitor will carry a tracking device and their progress can be tracked live on the Donegal Atlantic Way Ultra Race Facebook page.