Irish Mountain
Running Association

Glen of the Downs


Brian O Murchu

Brian O Murchu

Trail League #1

After doing x 8 Leinster League races, it was great getting out doing a Wednesday evening race, my first since Seefingan. As has been the pattern with the LL races, it's midnight and I am still buzzing so I may as well use that energy/insomnia on a race report.

Not only was this the first of the Trail League, it was my first IMRA trail race. Checking out the course description and map in advance, this one didn't look too demanding I thought. After seeing Dave Brady at registration, I asked him about the course. He related that there is a bit on the tarmac across a car park that looks like you're about to come back to the finish, but then you turn right up a hill and there's quite a bit more running to go. Useful info I thought.

Warming up on the first hill it seemed steeper than I had anticipated, and it got narrow, single-file narrow on the right-hand turn into the forest. 'Not to worry' I thought, the steep climb should string out the field before the narrow part.

Receiving the race director instructions at the start area, after the mist and bog of the Lug Relay the previous Saturday, I was admiring the sunny skies and warm evening. As the race got underway, I started well near the front and eased into a comfortable pace. As we went up the hill, more and more runners starting passing me and I was going backwards through the field. "Nice and steady" I was thinking trying not to get caught up in the first kilometer surge. I managed to keep a steady pace until we got near the top of the first hill and approaching the right-hand turn into the forest. As there was alot of runners around me, the field hadn't been strung out and the single-file tract was approaching, I gave way to the first kilometer surge and made an effort to pass out a few people to get ahead of them into the narrow forest trail. One of the people I passed had a red t-shirt on, and that wouldn't be the last time in the race we would accompany each other.

Through the narrow forest trail, and it was narrow in places, I had to wait and pick my moments to pass out a few runners. There were other places that I had to duck as the race wasn't so suited for taller runners. The guy in the red t-shirt caught up before the hairpin bends, and I realised I needn't have surged earlier in the race. Just as I got to the hairpin bend descent, I spotted a runner ahead going straight down the descent. "Not for me" I thought and I followed another runner ahead going around the hairpin bends.

Further up, coming through the carpark on the tarmac, there was a runner just in sight ahead also in a red t-shirt. I was thinking I might get him on the impending hill after the right-hand turn. Going up this hill, again it was steeper than I had anticipated, it seems I had not properly processed 'hill' & 'trail race' together, I was thinking small low gradient hills. Instead of catching the runner ahead in the red t-shirt, the runner behind in the red t-shirt caught me again. I was starting to feel the effect of the fast start. I had processed there would be a hill off the carpark, but it seems I had not properly processed Dave Bradys 'there's quite a bit more running to go'. I was feeling tired, and I had just been passed. I got in behind this runner and managed to get a breather.

When we were going back through the very narrow forest trail I got a second wind and got ahead of the guy in the red t-shirt, and then the other guy in the red t-shirt ahead came back into sight. The forest trail seemed much further on the way back than on the way out. So much so that it was a relief when I got back to the left hand turn out of the forest, to start the descent on the stone road into the finish. On the fast descent the sun kept flashing out through the trees, enough to obscure for a second at a time my very important view of where I was stepping. I was catching the other guy in the red t-shirt the whole way, but not fast enough to get close. I crossed the finish line feeling very satisfied, and thinking it was a deceptively tough race.

At the finish, and again not since Seefingan, I got re-acquainted with midges, and lots of them! After having done x 4 races inbetween Seefingan and Glen of the Downs and not been bitten once, I seemed to have forgotten about them. I had even stopped eating garlic daily for the past few weeks as midges seemed to be no longer an issue. But tonight they were back and in numbers! I shall be re-including the garlic daily from tomorrow, and lets see if it helps me run faster at the Trail League #2 also...