RAAM for Alzheimer’s

This is the post excerpt.


Will we do RAAM?



Never been done by an Irish team before?

Oh right…but sure we broke the 2man Race Around Ireland record when we did that…


So will we do RAAM??

Feck it yeah,go on!


So here’s the worlds most boring blog i promised you all!

It all started when i got a phone call asking if i would crew and do physio for a 4man Irish team competing in RAAM 2012…..Thee RAAM??… Yup…..Christ yea im in! I have followed and dreamt about RAAM since i first heard of it in 2007,to be part of it was too good to pass up,i cleared it with herself and we were good to go! At the finish line i promised myself i would do it and said it out loud so it was cemented! Declan Brassil who was one of the 4man team said he’d return the favour of crewing but i said i’d rather have him cycling it with me and here we are now……like is said…..Gobshites!

2015 we entered Europe’s toughest bike race, the Race Around Ireland, breaking the existing 2man record. We only managed 3rd on the podium as the competition was fierce and Declan had a very bad crash the first night, a lesser man(Myself) would probably not have been able to continue, he was bust up,bruised and bloodied and took a good while to recover fully which made an impossible race all the more difficult. As we rolled into the finish line in Navan we started discussing RAAM……”Let me have a sleep,several showers and a beer and we’ll discuss it properly!”

So here we are now six months out from the worlds toughest bike race. Twice the distance of the Tour de France in a third of the time. 5200km non stop 24hr a day race. No Irish have attempted 2man, there’s been fours and eights but no twos so we knew we had to take a professional approach to it. In fact more people have stood on top of Mt Everest than have finished RAAM. We’re being coached by Bryan McCrystal of BMC Coaching, S&C with Bernard Smyth of UltimateConditioning.ie who without doubt is the best in the country at what he does and supplied with everything we need from Spun Cycles & Spun Run in Trim, Co Meath and nutrition from PowerBar.

We have a number of sponsors on board and are racing under the names of our two main sponsors as Team Ardstone/Tayto Park LCRC, while the cost of the race has kindly been covered we now want to make as big a push as possible to raise much needed funds for the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland and our local Meath branch. If any companies would like to come on as a sponsor please feel free to call me on 0861617407, your companies logo will be displayed on our jerseys and support vehicles. For those looking to give a donation please follow the link https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/race-across-america-for-alzheimers#/?_k=66oviv

I will update how our training and prep is going every couple of weeks and sure if you’re bored with nout else to do then have a read!!

I also have the small problem of getting through therace.ie 2017 first in March,this particular Gobshite is going solo on this one…….. More on that next time!!


TheRace…RAAM….numbero fouro


You know you’ve married the right one when she helps you on and off the toilet without making things too awkward. Not like when your dog makes eye contact with you when its taking a dump awkward but a different kind of awkward!!!………that’s how bad things were after TheRace in Donegal a few days ago……

I knew going into it i didn’t have the running done as my training is mostly biking geared towards RAAM, didn’t have much mountain climbing or kayaking done either come to think of it so I knew Donegal was going to be a tough day out but sure wasn’t that the whole reason for signing up for it in the first place!!

What a spectacular event, hands down the best run race i have seen, considering the vast area of wilderness it covers, the organisers and marshalls and support were just incredible. Athletes helping each other the whole day like I have never seen before. So here’s a quick break down:


23km Run: 5am start, pitch black and no idea where i was going so followed a couple of the local lads around for it, went at a decent pace all the while knowing what was still to come…….

15km Kayak: ‘Whats that black yoke they’re all carrying??’.. ‘ah that’d be a back rest, pretty important’…..good man Graham,never thought of that did ya…..started to cramp on the kayak but where in the name of jaysus do you go…..nowhere, sit down, cramp and don’t fall in! 15 long miserable kilometers, never so bored in all my life……. had no idea where i was going so just tried to follow the kayaks way off in the distance!

100km Bike: Delighted to see my bike, stiff as a post after the kayak but set off at a decent pace to tackle the hills! Toward the end of it i saw Muckish Mt!! Can’t be that one, the fuckin size of it!!!!!

5km Mountain climb: Marshall: “this time last year you’d have been in second place” Me:”that doesn’t help ya know”. Horrendous but spectacular, swamp like conditions meant i spent the ascent falling up it and the decent falling down it! But what a view from the top through tears! Seeing Lauren and my best mate/bestman Gary at the bottom of Muckish gave me the beans to keep going. They think they’re just there to cheer and are probably bored out of their heads but for anyone who knows what i’m on about, when you see someone close to you when you’re at your worst the lift it gives you is priceless. Eternally grateful to them.

68km Bike: Never so glad to see my bike again, but horrible climbs awaited, think it was Lough Salt(complete guess) felt like went on for an hour and the steepest part was at the top, 5kmph/15rpm kinda stuff,just managed to stay upright, if it weren’t for the support at the very top id have hitched a lift!!

42km Run: I knew i was in trouble before i even started….calf was gone and legs weren’t playing ball at all….walk the hills and shuffle down them,tried that but it was like going over Sally Gap and then a Mt Leinster, not much chance to run for me anyway, more like a 42km hike than a marathon so was left with no option but to forget running completely……..(singing fucking Taylor Swift Bad Blood for 42km and couldn’t stop…..that was worse than anything i experienced throughout the day……I HATE Taylor Swift….its mad what the mind does to punish you for being a gobshite)…….. walk as fast as i could and try get to the end before the legs gave out fully. I was 10th at the start and lost four places. While that sickened me i was also delighted more didn’t pass and i was just able to finish as the second i crossed the line the legs were gone completely.

I know i left a couple of hours out there on the route so if i have the time and the drive after RAAM I will actually train properly and hopefully go back and do it all over again next year!!

But don’t tell herself!


RAAM is hotting up, less than three months to go, crew is sorted, all is paid for, now we just need to keep training and arrive at the start line in the best shape possible. The competition this year looks fierce. We are obviously going out there with every intention of trying to win the race but to finish first you have to finish so we’ll start with that aim and see what happens! As there has never been an Irish 2man team before (nobody stupid enough) it’s very hard to know what way to plan the stints and race strategy but we’ll have everything sorted before we land!! If anyone wants to give an early donation link is below! Still options for companies to come on board and sponsor us too! 0861617407 if anyone is generous enough!!



RAAM Part 33 1/3…..

“I don’t know, Flanders, having two wives could have its advantages.

Come on Graham get one the turbo trainer….

“Chop, chop, dig, dig, chop, chop, dig, dig, chop, chop, dig, dig.”

No Graham….

“You know, Homey, there’s so much more two wives could do for you.”

Get up ya lazy bo@*%x….

“I hear digging, but I don’t hear chopping!”

Alright alright…..


The daily struggle between the two Grahams continues, training-work-life balance is near impossible these days, training is around the 17-20hrs a week now… constantly beating you over the head from when you open your eyes in the morning to when you close them at night…..but then I imagine what life would be like if I couldn’t do what I’m doing and I soon shut up, pull on my training gear and set off to ‘flip the bird’ at all the motorists who for some reason don’t see a big illuminous object on a bike !!


Training is well ramped up now and starting to believe only a gobshite would sign up for two-man RAAM and only a special kind of gobshite would sign up for TheRaceDonegal only a couple of months before it,training is solely geared towards RAAM so getting through TheRace is gonna be horrible but who doesn’t love a bit of suffering, it will help build a bit of mental strength if nothing else, but you put your trust in your coach who said it’ll be grand and to plug away. Our coach is only half human so he thinks its a doddle!!

The crew is complete and we’re having a crew meeting this week to try finalize everything, I’m beginning to think the training is the easy part……. we both just want to be on that start line, giving the stink eye to the opposition while our legs shake beneath us. I crewed for a 4man team a few years back and its truly a grueling yet magical experience for both racers and crew……it really cant come quick enough!!


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My Kuota KTzero5!!!! Every little helps!


So a few facts about RAAM:

Race Across America (RAAM) is one the most respected and longest running endurance sports events in the world. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles but the greater sporting community as well.

RAAM has a rich and storied history. In 1982 four individuals raced from the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles to the Empire State Building in New York City. Covered by national television, the race captivated the public’s imagination. Teams were added in 1992 and quickly became the most popular and fastest growing segment of the race. The 2017 race will be the 36th edition of RAAM.

There is no other race in the world like RAAM. The Race inspires everyone who has been a part of it – racer, crew, staff and fans alike. RAAM is the true test of speed, endurance, strength and camaraderie, the ideal combination of work and fun! There is no race that matches the distance, terrain and weather, no other event that tests a team’s spirit from beginning to end.

· Start: Oceanside, California – Oceanside Pier
Solo Racers – Tuesday June 13
Relay Teams – Saturday June 17

·Finish: Annapolis, Maryland – City Dock

·Route: 3000 miles, 170,000 feet of climbing

·Crosses 12 states, passes through 88 counties and 350 communities

·Format: Solo, 2-, 4- and 8-Person relay teams

There are different divisions in which to race. There are 2-, 4- and 8-Person relay teams. The workload may be split up any way the teammates choose. On an 8-Person team, each racer will ride roughly three hours per day. Solo is just that – one person travels the entire distance. Whether team or solo you will have a support crew following you. The support crew handles all of the logistics – food, fluids, navigation, clothing changes, medical needs, bike repairs, etc. – so that racers can focus on racing.

Fans from all over the world follow RAAM. Fans can follow RAAM on the web, through the bi-weekly RAAM Newsletter, race blogs, the social media (Facebook and Twitter) and traditional mainstream media. There is local, national and international coverage by the traditional media. Additionally, RAAM has at least four of its own media crews on the course providing up-to-date video, photo and text coverage. Race coverage statistics:

·  25+ million page views annually

·  2500+ articles in mainstream media (TV, radio and print)


We’re getting everything sorted as the weeks pass,I will list all the sponsors closer the time but a massive thanks to Ardstone and Tayto Park who are our two main sponsors. We are working on our team kit now which we are delighted to say is kindly being sponsored by DHW Agencies/GSG who are our Kuota suppliers here in Spun Cycles & Spun Run and also Padraic Keogh Travel in Trim who have helped with flights and logistics. The cost of the race is covered from our generous sponsors so now we aim to raise as much money as possible for the Alzheimers Society of Ireland but in particular the Whistlemount Day Centre in Navan which is very close to the hearts of myself and Declan and both our families. I will annoy you all closer the time about that but in the meantime here is a link to donate:  https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/race-across-america-for-alzheimers

Again if any businesses want to come on board to be part of this Irish first just give me a shout on 0861617407 or graham_macken@hotmail.com

Image result for race across america start line

See ye in Oceanside!!!


RAAM for Alzheimer’s 2017 Part2!


Will you have a beer?

I won’t.

A glass of wine?

Better not

A selection box?

Just a Curly Wurly if ya have one?!

Christmas was a very quiet one, the only day we had off was Christmas Day. But training is going well, Race Around Ireland legs feel like they’re slowly coming back. The boxes are getting ticked and Bryan McCrystal (BMC Coaching) and Bernard Smyth (Ultimate Conditioning.ie) seem happy with the progress, even though its like having three wives some of the time but with none of the fun stuff!

So a few months back Gobshite here decided to enter The Race Donegal this coming March thinking it would be a good mental challenge before RAAM,its as follows:

Stage 1: 22km Run (Forget how to run)

Stage 2: 15km Kayak (afraid of water monsters)

Stage 3: 96km Bike (should be ok!)

Stage 4: 5km Run/Puke up and down Muckish Mountain (afraid of heights)

Stage 5: 68km Cycle (I wanna go home!)

Stage 6: 42km/Marathon Run at night (kill me now)

24 hours to finish!!

All being tackled on the back of mainly bike training…..mental battle indeed!

Add in the snow and mountains of Donegal and sure it’ll be mighty fun……..

But RAAM is obviously my main focus so for The Race Donegal i’ll be wrapping myself in bubble wrap with the main aim being to finish it injury free!!


Training is ramping right up, trying to balance everything is near impossible sometimes,train at 5am,work for 8am and back out to train again in the evening/afternoon before going back to work….six days a week…. I am loving it all but poxy work is just getting in the way!!!

The crew is sorted, flights and hotels are booked and RV and car are hired so we’re ticking all the boxes. Most years on RAAM there’s only a handful of 2 mans, last year there was five and only two finished. This year there’s twelve 2 mans already…….as the saying goes…. “if i fell into a barrel of t###s i’d come out sucking my thumb” but we welcome the challenge, the hardest part of RAAM early on is getting through the desert and Death Valley in the best possible shape, trying to avoid dehydration and overheating, a lot of two man teams don’t make it beyond that. Our crew is an extremely strong crew, a lot of them crewed for us on Race Around Ireland and they were flawless during that race so its a great comfort knowing all we have to do is cycle and moan and they’ll take care of everything else!

Some days i feel we should postpone until 2018 to better prepare but how can you possible prepare fully for something like this,that’s why i don’t listen to myself! So roll on June 17th til we roll off the pier in Oceanside with 5200km of hell in front of us!

Cant come quick enough!!


Don’t forget you can donate to our cause here: https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/race-across-america-for-alzheimers

2man Race Across America 2017