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Killarney man completes in one of the world’s toughest adventure races

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By Sean Moriarty

Killarney mountain runner Joe O’Leary was part of a four person team that finished one of the world’s most arduous adventure races in Spain this week.

The Dingle Adventure Race team, Noel O'Leary, Joe O'Leary, Colm Casey and Ailise Deane started the six-day race in Adventure Race World Championship in Gallaecia on Saturday.

They only reached the finish line in the early hours of Thursday morning after enduring 220km of mountain trail hiking at heights of 7,500m, an 80km mountain bike race and an 11km kayak race in a river with currents so strong they had to carry their canoe along the river bank just to make the section-finish.

They did all this while surviving on limited sleep taken on a short bus journey to connect sections and 17 minutes of open air sleeping on the side of a mountain in the middle of the night.

“The 2021 World Championship will be the most mountainous, the longest and the most technical edition of our race so far, covering 600km across three of the four provinces of Gallaecia and passing very near to the border with Portugal,” explained a pre-event press release. “Teams can expect a varied and technical race delivered by a crew which has been together for many years and has a reputation second to none for their courses, logistics, mapping and organisation.”

START

At the event start, all teams were given 51 maps and had a limited time to plot the correct route via several pre-ordained check points.

They were not allowed use modern GPS technology and one mobile phone was allowed per team, however this was switched off and placed in a sealed bag and if the seal was broken they would have been disqualified from the race. A digital wrist watch, that showed no more than the time and a date was the team’s only connection to real time as smart watches and Fitbits were also banned.

The course opened on Saturday morning and they had exactly seven days to complete it.

Following a very difficult opening night, they spent 40 hours on a mountain side in driving rain, missed a cut off time at a check point and were forced to complete a stage by bus. While the bus trip offered much needed rest, Team Dingle Adventure Race were forced to drop down to the shorter course and were no longer eligible for overall honours. It was a cruel blow for the squad as they were the last team to be cut off.

They continued with the Mountain Bike section but before they could participate in the kayaking element of the event they had to carry their boat through difficult mountain trails to reach the start of that section.

The final section, 12km of street racing, was as difficult as the mountain courses they had just completed.

“We got over the line at about 3am, there was one person there to clap us,” a clearly exhausted Joe told the Killarney Advertiser a few hours after the finish.

“What day is it? I literally don’t know what happened over the last few days. I will be getting flashbacks about this for the next six months and it will take a long time to piece it all together. Right now I am drifting between back to life and being completely delirious from sleep depravation.”

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Jobs to keep gardeners busy

The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy! Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, […]

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The weather is glorious at the moment, so I thought I would put together some jobs to keep every gardener busy!

Winter bedding is now available – so plant up containers and pots to keep everything cheerful this winter! Conifers such as Goldcrest and Elwoodiis are an excellent choice for a centrepiece, as are Cordylines, Phormiums and topiary plants such as Buxus and Bay laurels. Heathers give colour all winter, as do ornamental cabbages. Winter pansies, violas and Batchelor’s buttons are all in stock now, and will provide colour for months, Cyclamen are beautiful – but beware! They do not like getting too wet, so ideally use them in pots and window boxes which do not get too much rain.

Bulbs provide a welcome splash of colour in the early spring, at a time when things are looking grey and grim. Choose from an extensive range – tulips, daffs, crocus, snowdrops – to name but a few. Planting mixtures of different varieties can lead to stunning displays in a pot, for example, plant in layers: tulips at the bottom, then daffs, hyacinth, crocus and anenomes for a long lasting pot of colour. In the garden plant bulbs in informal clusters of uneven numbers to give a natural looking display. Alliums are particularly trendy at the moment, these ornamental onions are available in pinks, white and yellow.

PRUNING

Pruning is one of those jobs which can give immense satisfaction. All old flower heads, the straggly growth of herbaceous plants and branches of unkempt shrubs can go into the compost heap. Pruning equipment can be confusing for the new gardener, so here are a few guidelines: there are two types of secateurs, bypass and anvil. The anvil secateurs is used for dead wood, but the bypass secateurs can be used for live as well as dead wood. The hedge shears are used to prune large shrubs or hedges, but is best for soft or thin growth. Loppers are used to prune trees and thicker branches and have long handles. These also come as anvil or bypass. Some of these are geared, these take the strain and strength needed out of the job, an excellent invention!

As the days get shorter and wetter, moss will start to grow again. Treat paths before they get slippy, with a product such as MossOff. Try to keep fallen leaves off lawns as they contribute to poor growth of grass and strong moss growth. A leafblower makes the job easy – especially a cordless one!

Lawns benefit from a final treatment in the autumn with a product such as an Autumn Lawn Feed and Weed or Viano Recovery from the producers of MO Bacter. These products both treat the roots of the grass, making the plant itself stronger for the winter. They do not cause excessive growth.

Finally, if there are empty beds in your vegetable garden, consider sowing a green manure such as winter rye or red clover. These will prevent weeds from taking over as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen. In the spring they can be cut down and dug into the soil, providing essential organic matter.

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Take the stress out of a career change

By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve. Other people are prompted […]

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By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

People change career for a variety of reasons. For some people the desire to change comes from feeling unfulfilled or stressed in a current role or the need for more flexibility and autonomy as circumstances in your personal life evolve.

Other people are prompted to change because of ambition to develop professionally, the desire for more meaning or purpose, job security or to earn more money.

Whether career change is forced upon you through organisational restructuring or is an active choice you are making, it can bring a mix of emotions. Among them is the fear and a lack of confidence on how to navigate the change effectively and the feeling of overwhelm associated with not knowing where to start. Conversely, it can be a time of great excitement about the possibility of taking on a new (and maybe very different) role or opportunity. Either way, drawing up a career action plan that breaks down the process into manageable tasks will help to ease any stress associated with career change and save you time and energy in the long run.

UNLOCKING YOUR POTENTIAL

Start by thinking about where you are now and where you would like to be – what are your priorities and non-negotiables and what are the practicalities you need to consider? To dig deeper do a self-assessment audit of your transferable skills and competencies, your career values and character strengths. Journal your career change journey by recording anything interesting you find out about yourself or career areas you are interested in. Some people like the idea of drawing up a career vision board as part of the process. Set clear goals and a specific timeline for yourself. As you gain more clarity, write out what your ideal job specification might look like, this will guide your job search. Explore options to up-skill or retrain if you feel this is helpful or necessary. Do a spring clean of your CV so that it reflects you accurately and favourably. Reach out to people in your network who may be able to assist you as you navigate this transition. Think about possible side projects you could work on to explore different areas before taking a big leap. Set up or update your LinkedIn profile, it is an important part of career development. Practice interview skills, you want to be able to perform confidently when they come around. Think about this process as unlocking the potential of your ‘career brand’ so that you and prospective employers have a strong sense of who you are professionally, what you value and what you bring to the workplace. Doing this work will enable you to approach your job search and career change with renewed confidence. It will take some time but it will be worth it!

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Careers Advisor – For details see www.mycareerplan.ie or follow @mycareerplan on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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