For the Adventure Race enthusiast the Pirate Queen Ladies Adventure Race offers immediately accessible, challenging terrain with incredibly panoramic views such as from the peak of Knockmore, a 360 degree vista of the natural beauty of Clew Bay and its environs. Only a fifteen minute boat trip from the mainland pier at Roonagh Harbour, race goers may catch a sight of dolphins, seals and diving gannets on passage to Clare Island. The pier on the island is dominated by the Castle of Grainuaile, Clare Island’s Pirate Queen of the O’Malley Clan, a fierce Pirate of the 16th Century whom ruled the waters of Clew Bay earning a living off raiding English and Spanish ships. This event is in celebration of her life. “Who will be crowned the next Pirate Queen”.
The island’s topography caters well for this event. The lowlands undulate through varied and track-worn landscapes while stepped hillocks with challenging gradients climb to a table top summit, sloping steeply to the east and dropping dramatically to the west over massive cliffs.
The race starts at Go Explore Hostel perched on a small cliff face overlooking Croke Patrick and Clew Bay. From here stage 1 of the route, a run, brings you 5km around the small villages of Capnagower and Fawnglass. You pass the old ship wreck of the Rossend (Clare Islands old ferry shipwrecked after a storm in 1993) on Kinnacurra as you travel along the small tarmac country roads. This run brings you around in a loop and back to Go Explore Hostel before beginning stage two on the bike. Stage 2 – sets off for 5.5km on bike heading north towards the towering building of the Clare Island lighthouse in the distance. The route has a low gradient climb until you reach the gravel pit. Along this route you come upon full view of Knockmore Mountain your biggest challenge to come, while also passing the stumps of ancient oak trees from pre glacial times and many more sights of Geological & Historical significance. Stage 2 finishes at an old gravel pit nestled at the foot hill of Knockmore. Stage 3 – a 5km run begins along a green road that curves its way up the mountain base to a point where it stops and the open foot hill begins. The check point is at the very peak of the hill. Here you will catch full view of the MEGGA Cliffs as described by Geologists where thousands of nesting birds live and where only one of three Gannet Colonies live on the West Coast. At the summit, take a moment. Clew Bay lies at your feet surrounded by Croke Patrick, Westport, Mulranny Achill Island, Inishturk, Inishbofin, the Killery, the Twelve Bens, Mweelrea Mountain and the big blue sea. Breathtaking…. The decent takes you back the same route however it is very wet and slippy so make sure you have good grips on your runners. Stage 4 – a 8.km cycle continues on this road down some very steep hills (caution). You will pass through the grounds of the Clare Island Church and Abbey the resting place of Grainuaile (Pirate Queen) before beginning the slow rise around a loop and then heading east back to the harbour. The cycle on this event is short however it offers a great sprint distance. Stage 5 – This is where the real fun kicks in. After bike drop off you run to the old pier where you walk the plank off the pier and into the water and swim back to the beach. The swim / wade is very short (15 – 20m) and if you do not fancy doing it you can by-pass the plank and run back to the beach by road. On the beach, we have a number of fun obstacles to navigate before the final dash to the finish at Go Explore hostel. The crowning of the Pirate Queen Adventure Racer will take place after the race at Go Explore Hostel. That evening we will be showing a documentary on the life of Grainuaile followed by great food and lively trad music at Sailor’s Bar. A donation to Crumlin Children’s Hospital will be made in respect for their help with Luke Mulchrone.