Irish Mountain
Running Association

Djouce trail


Brian O Murchu

Brian O Murchu

Earls Drive/Djouce Trail? Whichever it’s called, I ran in a fantastic 8k this evening. After initially being mis-informed that the course was “up and down” (you know who you are), this was my first IMRA race that started on a descent. An IMRA friend of mine said to me once that usually in IMRA races people “go off like the clappers”. And usually in IMRA races I can spend half the race or even the whole race trying to close down runners who have gone off like the clappers. These trail league races I really like because they are without any rocky/technical/overly steep descents which remove my biggest disadvantage to achieving a top 10 placing. Warming up on the early part of the course, I was quite interested to see if the downhill start would/could negate runners starting like the clappers.

Come 7.30pm, the Race Director gave us the lowdown on the race and then introduced the topic of the impending latest member to IMRA 100 with tonights race, Dave Brady, who then received a well deserved round of applause. Then 170 of us readied to start and we were underway on the signal from Vivian O’Gorman. Going down the descent from the start line, it turned out to almost be like a neutral zone like at the start of a Tour de France stage where no one is allowed to attack for the first few k‘s. Getting to the first S-bend, I was in a bunch of… well I’m not sure how many were behind me but there was less than 10 in front of me. “This is great” I thought, the descent was long enough so that we were still relatively bunched by the time we got to the bottom of the descent through the S-bends. A small river crossing was then required, Martin Francis was in front of me and used a log like a gymnast’s balance beam to cross. I decided to splash through the water, then we were into the forest and started going up switchbacks, just like the hairpin bends cyclists climb up L’Alpe de Huez in the Tour de France. I was enjoying this section so much I managed to drop two runners who were with me on the lower slopes.

When we got to the top, the trail flattened out and running around the ridges was fast and there was some fantastic views of the valley, the mountains and even of Powerscourt waterfall. We had a second river crossing to make, this time over quite large stepping stones. I found myself hesitating a little over these four stones, I should really invest in some Parkour lessons so I can keep the flow of my running over obstacles. Across the river, there was two runners ahead and I was closing in. Just before the right hand turn up a short steep incline, I caught and passed one of the runners but the second one seemed to accelerate up the incline. “He must have been waiting for that hill” I thought. At the top there was a small descent helping to get the speed up again, and ‘try to reel in the runner in front’ part 2 commenced. I noticed that last weeks runner in red I was battling with, was the same runner in front but this time in navy. I was getting close, but then where the path rejoined part of the initial descent (maybe around 400m to go) there was a bit of an incline up to the finish line. Again the runner in front pulled out the gap on the incline and finished ahead of me probably around the same distance he finished behind me last week.

A great race over, but then a new battle commenced with biting midges everywhere. After spending two or three days scratching after most of the summer races I was taking no chances this evening, I was keeping moving. When I finished my cool-down, this was the time to hit the car and withdraw from the midge-fest. Thin Lizzy was the music of choice on the car stereo on the way back. Now I am looking forward to an itch-free 7 days before Devil’s Glen.