At Oxygen, we like to make sure we do things right. Whether it’s the tonnes of prizes we give away every month, or the hard-hitting journalism of The Spanner, we like to do things right. Which is why, for our most recent Christmas party, we decided to forgo the usual mince pies and microwaved mulled wine in the office and instead opted for something much cooler: Go Karting.
After packing as much of the staff into the boss’s car as possible, we made our way to the Kylemore Industrial Estate, home to Kylemore Karting. Some of us, myself included, have been there a number of times before, while for others, it was the first time. In all honesty, that probably doesn’t make much of a difference. You’re either good or you’re not (I was very good, but more on that later).
Kylemore Karting is Ireland’s largest indoor Karting arena, which is actually really good, because the day we went was a cold, rainy, winter’s afternoon. Not really the kind of weather you’d want to go karting in (go go karting?). There are three tracks you can kart on, all 360m in length, and they’re all pretty cool. They’re not just flat, boring loops or corners either. There are plenty of ups, downs, side-to-sides, and you have to actually think about what you’re doing. The way the tracks are laid out also makes it hard to tell how well you’re doing. The tracks cross over in several areas, which can obscure you’re view of others. It might seem for a moment that you’re on your own, either doing exceptionally well or horrendously bad. That’s how it was for me. I couldn’t see any of the other racers for a while, which made me think that I was either really far ahead or really far behind. Then I catch a glimpse of another kart gaining on me, and the only option is to floor it. But then I fly around a corner, and typical as typical can be, Gillian is there, somehow having turned her kart backwards. I smash into her, furiously and helplessly watching the rest of the office speed by, overtaking both me and my dreams of taking home the gold. Thankfully the staff are really helpful and quick to make sure you get back on track.
But a few laps later, enough people had crashed that I had a fighting chance of reclaiming my title (actually the last time I went I think I came dead last, after my cousin who was a little girl at the time). After a few laps, you start to feel like a pro. Once the race is over, they hand out the timesheets to each person that show how you did in each lap, which is really interesting because you can see yourself gradually improving as you go from taking 1 minute per lap to 20 seconds. You can also see the odd lap that took you embarrassingly long, which is how you know when you crashed. The thing to remember about Go Karting is that, unlike bumper cars, crashing is the last thing you want to do. I’m not trying to blame Gillian, but the fact remains that had I not crashed into her, I would have come first. Instead, I came in second place behind my boss. At least that way I can try and pass it off as if I let him win. He is the boss after all.
There are several types of races available, ranging in price from 15 to 50 euro per person, as well as various lengths of time of number of laps. We did an endurance race, which was perfect for our group of 8 people, but if you want to get a load of people together, you can do your own version of the Grand Prix! This is actually a really cool option, because they have a social area overlooking the track where you can watch others race, or play pool if you prefer.
All in all, the whole office had a great time and would highly recommend it. You can take a virtual tour of the arena online, or check out some of their videos to suss the place out.