2015 has been an amazing year for me. It is only when I start to think back over everything that I realise how much I packed in. From ultra marathon races to steep creeking and working and travelling in South America, 2015 is certainly a year I won't forget. Below is a quick review back through some of the highlights with links to individual blogs. Plans for 2016 are already well under way and it is shaping up to an equally big year. Much appreciation and thanks to my sponsors, friends and family for their incredible support as always.
As this is the time of year we take stock and think of the future I would like to share some thoughts with you. Over the last three years I have learned a few things. I have completely transformed my life from one of nights out, to many take-aways and mediocrity to one filled with great adventures, tests of physical endurance and amazing experiences. I haven't found all the answers or want to preach, but if I could offer some advice this would be it.
If you have something you want to do, make 2016 the year it happens. Don't wait for the right time, it will never come.
Be brave, make some decisions and take a few chances. Cancel your Netflix subscription! Don't use "time" as an excuse for not doing the things you want to do. If you want it, you will find a way.
Imagine yourself this time next year. Will you be looking back at what could have been and another missed opportunity or remembering an amazing year filled with achievements and great experiences?
The choice is YOURS!
January - 2015 did not start as I had intended. After three months of base training in preparation for the Devizes to Westminster race I picked up a chest infection during Christmas and I was out of action for the first two weeks of the new year. A planned trip to Malta in mid January for some training in the winter sun came at the right time to get me back on track and eased the winter blues.
Feb/March - Training for the DW resumed as normal after Malta. I also had some instructor training courses to attend in the South of Ireland which meant weekends kayaking in Cork and Kerry. The crazy weather continued with storm after storm. This meant more time training indoors on the ergo and bike.
April- Devizes to Westminster
After months of training and a few set backs Easter arrived and with it my second DW. This year I was taking on the K1 event. Back in October I had set out my goals for 2015. A top 5 or sub 18:30 finish in the DW was top of the list. Thankfully the hard work payed off and I finished in 18:20 and 9th place in what can only be described as a high class field with 4 previous winners in the top 10.
May - Italy
Val Sesia in Northern Italy was the location for the Canoeing Ireland Level 5 skills assessments in 2015. With a number of classic steep creeks in the area, it was the perfect location to put candidates through their paces. After a dry Spring at home and a lot of time focused on flat water training, a few days warming up were required beforehand. Thankfully the assessment went well and we all passed. At the end of the May I was back in the K1 taking the win in Irelands first ultra marathon. The Blueway Ultra Challenge
Was a busy month of training as I had started road biking and was building up to a 200km Audax event. A punishing training regime with one of Ireland's top Audax riders - Eamon Nealon had me eating up miles in about 8 weeks. During the build up I completed a 120km sportive in 4 hours and countless hill sessions. Excellent cross training and really enjoyable.
The summer weather was incredibly frustrating and caused a lot of cancel work so to keep myself from going mad I decided to take on the River Shannon and establish the Shannon Sprint Challenge. 210km over 2 and 1/2 days down the longest river in the British Isles.
I had a plan to kayak the Wild Atlantic Way in September but due to a delay with getting the kayak I was to use and poor weather I decided not to start and wait until a better window. While I was disappointed not to be paddling the WAW I did use the opportunity to tick off some of the training trips I had hoped to do over the summer. A solo crossing of the North channel of the Irish Sea was high on the list all year and I finally got it ticked off in 3hrs 51min. I also managed trips to Eagle Island, The Slieve Leagues, The Duvillaun Islands, Inish Murray, Inishkea South and most of the Mayo coast.
Started with a bang- A solo Achill Island circumnavigation. After such a poor summer I had written Achill off for 2015, but just at the last minute before I headed off to Cornwall, a few days of high pressure moved in and I was able to set a new best for the 65km route, in a time of 6hrs 41min. Beating last years time by 11 minutes.
Two days later I was on my way to Cornwall for a two week placement with Sea Kayaking Cornwall. A fantastic experience working with industry leaders.
After two great weeks in Cornwall I was home for a few days to pack for another adventure in Patagonia. Like all great plans mine changed after a few weeks guiding in Torres Del Paine and I decided not to spent the season there. Instead I opted to pick up some freelance work and spend a six weeks travelling around South America. A decision I do not regret. The last few weeks have been an amazing experience. From the hiking in the snow above the world most southerly city -Ushuaia, Argentina to watching the sun rise on the worlds largest salt flats in Bolivia.
Sometimes you never know where life will take you and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be posting this blog at Christmas from Cusco in Peru.
In the next few days I will visit Machu Picchu for the New Year, then return to Bolivia and Ireland in mid January to really start working on 2016.
Thanks for reading. Have a great New Year - make it your best yet.
Kayak instructor, athlete, business owner and outdoor enthusiast from the west coast of Ireland.
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