Brian O Murchu
16 August, 2012"With a name like Devils Glen, this needs a race"
A devilish storm was forecasted for the Glen this evening, which may have kept some people away from the last in the Trail League series. For those that showed up (with or without their mothers permission), the race didn't disappoint, and the course creators preview added to the anticipation for those like myself doing the course for the first time. As the route was pretty sheltered, the buffeting winds were disapated. The storm warning did not live up to expectations, but the competition en route whipped up its own fierceness. With the top 2 runners shoulder-to-shoulder the whole race.
At the race start on the road, we quickly took a right hand turn up the first hill. As this part was quite narrow there were some runners lashing it up the hill in an effort to avoid getting boxed in. Although I started near the front, the first hill I found difficult trying to hold back at a comfortable pace and trying not to get caught up in the rush for early positions. Betting on a good placing here can lead to a bust on the second loop. As it was, I caught and passed x 2 quick pacesetters just over the top of the first hill. I found the descent down through the trees fast and enjoyable.
Eventually we hit the tarmac, and we went through the start/finish area. A race with x 2 loops has the advantage of boisterous support mid-race. Going through the carpark and taking the hard left hand turn back onto the trail, I almost skidded through the mud onto the marshall pointing the direction. Luckily for me, and him, my trail shoes did their job and had enough grip to avoid a collision (and perhaps a DQ if the marshall felt disgruntled enough...). Going past the wood carving on the left, then the forest started to close in here above as well as on all sides. Going down the hairpin bends to the river, Kyle caught up with me. I managed to duck under the low branch without losing my stride and there was a few small trees and large branches to negotiate, including one covering the corner of a switchback and another acting like a hurdle.
Running out along the river myself and Kyle started sharing the pacing. After a long stretch along the river there was a sharp left hand turn almost back the way we came, but on a ridge which we had to climb before it flattened out again. As we passed the waterfall, it started to lash rain, which almost felt like we were running through the waterfall. The rain felt good, cooling us off as we were clipping along at a hot pace.
Kyle and I were still alternating leading and following, which was not discussed but just happened naturally. I think I ran this race quicker as a result, much quicker. I was also starting to think that this race could end like a closely fought GAA game. The type of game that gives the impression that if the duration/final whistle was a minute longer or a minute shorter, there would be a different result. When we approached Rene, who was at the bottom of the final hill taking pictures, I just happened to be leading Kyle. Having scouted the final section of the course during my warm-up, I decided to give it everything here on this short final uphill, as it is all downhill to the finish and too late to attempt to pass after the ascent. With a devilish smile I executed my plan, and hopefully none of the photographers caught that.... However I feel I was betraying the person who assisted getting me this far in the race. I wonder how I'll look in the photo coming into the finish.
Another hugely enjoyable and satisfying race, and another league completed -check. I think it's great that there is so much diversity in IMRA races from trail, to mountain, to bog, etc. I got to the finish just in time to get soaked in a second heavy shower. I must point out that the weather kept away the midges. This is two weeks in a row that I am bite-free -that must be worth an extra placing, right?