Irish Mountain
Running Association

The Sugar Bowl - BBQ


Rene BorgBrian O MurchuPeter O'FarrellTurlough Conway

Rene Borg


1. Rathfarnham WSAF 6 (1 Turlough Conway, 2 Peter O'Farrell, 3 Greg Byrne)
2. UCD 38 (8 Luke Kenny, 11 Zoran Skrba, 19 Eoin Syron)
3. Crusaders AC 67 (4 Jason Kehoe, 24 Jeff Fitzsimons, 39 Oran Murphy)
4. Sli Cualann 93 (14 Ben Mooney, 37 Jimmy Synnott, 42 Ronan King)
5. Boards AC 188 (45 Mick Hanney, 60 John Langenbach, 83 John Ahern)

1. Le Cheile 88 (28 Miriam Maher, 29 Deirdre Bohar, 31 Anne Hodge)

Brian O Murchu

The Sugar Loaf is a striking feature in the landscape with a very distinct volcano-like appearance. Between the Great and Little Sugar Loafs, is a bit like the gateway between Dublin and Wicklow. According to studies, as the upper slopes are regarded as marginal land the known permanent inhabitants have been in the more fertile lower slopes. It is a very popular place for hill walkers, and typically once a year there is an eruption of mountain runners on the slopes for the End of League Race. The most recent being Wed July 17th, with Turlough Conway and Kate Cronin leading the charge.

I had made advance preparations for such an event, with the kind carpool offer from Aideen Keenan got me from the flatlands of the Northside to the Glencormac Inn. From there I set out on my own and started following the pre-marked tape. After stopping to munch on some blueberries along the way, I took position on the upper slope to catch the action of the 194 runners snaking their way up and around the mountain in a clockwise direction.

After spending the Wicklow Way Trail/Ultra in the snow by Lough Tay wondering how many layers I could put on and still be mobile, it was certainly a contrast to be basking in the sun and wondering if I had enough sun cream on. Having no official role at the race, I was a self-designated fun runner to experience the course and take a few snaps. I found the race quite inspiring to watch, seeing everyone going past with determined focus and purpose which also facilitates great photo taking! Certainly a tough but rewarding mountain.

After I went over the shoulder of the Sugar Loaf, even though I was fun-running I found the descent tough going. I was left wondering how exactly do the lead runners come down the conical scree at full pelt and not smash themselves up? Although the descent did have a trail of blood which I followed, extra marking I suppose? There is a point on the mountain where you are directly in line with Killiney Hill, Howth and Lambay Island. I find straight lines in nature an uncanny feature, although it feels like a link between the Northside and the Wicklow mountains. For once I got to stop and enjoy the views during a race (but not IN the race).

Carrying on the descent almost hidden in the ferns was first Vivian and then Martin both marshalling and the latter with a word of warning. After finally negotiating though dense foliage when I came onto a road I was greeted with the enthusiasm of the Race Director. The thing about mountain running I find is that it feels like an achievement to summit a hill but a relief to get to the bottom. Once off the course it was time to refuel at the highly organised BBQ and catch up with other runners!

Peter O'Farrell

Sometimes the bald statistics just totally fail to tell the tale of the race. Looking at the results you can see Turlough wins with a mere four seconds passing before Greg crossing the line, in third place.

A close race you would think? Nope! It was won on the climb and maintained on the descent. Turlough had an unassailable lead when he reached the summit at 20 minutes and 40 seconds. 67 seconds later Martin McDonald and myself rounded the top with Jason Kehoe in close attendance. Turlough had so much time on his hands he was able to skip down and tease the rest of us into thinking we had a chance. We had no chance.
I was attempting to sneak up on Turlough with light steps - in action it was just as ridiculous as it sounds in print- running down a stony bone dry mountain in pursuit of a leader and hoping he wouldn't be keeping an ear out for any event I had to put away the ninja steps as I could hear Greg getting closer and closer behind.
I started having visions of the lads lining me up for the overtake. Greg was just blitzing it, with a grin. Fast feet Jason was using Champions Everywhere techniques on the descent but unfortunately had to take his shoe off for a reset, in fairness the Sugar Loaf wouldn't be an ideal testing ground for Rene's barefoot plans and Bernard has fast finishing nailed down tight.

Maybe the statistics are telling some truth though. Kate Cronin has been a revelation this season and not long after a very fine 25th at the Europeans she was 10th overall last night in 106%. Very impressive. Between herself and Des Kennedy winning the winter and summer league and coming 3rd in the trial it seems Raheny are doing it right this year!

The BBQ was brilliant and the Wicklow round presentations were a lovely touch.

Turlough Conway

The last race of the LL deserves a few reports so here’s one! Anyone have a good evening? Write it down and report!

Registration was ticking along nicely as I queued at 6:45 and the good volunteers on BBQ were already gearing up for the long shift. Good on you all!
Chatted to Bernard then about previous versions of this race, and its tendency to produce dark horses. The main local knowledge as far as the men’s race was concerned, was that League winner Des Kennedy would be leading cars into the car park and not the entire race field up the mountain! IMRA community spirit in action. Good look to Des and all on our teams on Snowden this weekend.
Met Mick Hanney near the start who informed me that Paul Nolan was racing, and lo and behold the man himself jogs around the corner. That man knows more about mountain running in his little toe than I know in my whole brain and after a few seconds chatting, I quickly realised it was important to check out the final kilometre through the marsh which was narrow. (A lot wider than it had been thanks to great work by Oran knocking the ferns and heather back).
Did that, met Bernard again who described it as “interesting” which it was. Said hello to Jason Keogh who was checking things out too. I figured if you managed to be ahead of someone entering the marsh, you would almost certainly keep the lead. It would take someone with the cunning and skill of a ninja to pass, I reckoned. Suddenly I heard a slight shuffle…a stone drop…a feeling a being watched….a ninja! I laughed to myself nervously..
Anyway back chatting to Paul and a little more welcome advice about pacing the race. If you look at old events on the site you’ll see that Paul ran the old Sugarloaf rush route in 2003 in an astonishing time of 17.30. Any advice on this mountain (or any other) from this man is always received with open ears. Ah! There’s Peter O’Farrell. Not long back from his honey moon with Orla McEvoy (congrats Orla and Peter!). Peter is usually in the top two if not the top one in this race and I knew the honeymoon would have covered a few kilometres and mountain passes on two wheels in between the sights.
A great band of happy people listened to el Presidente Richard’s good humoured instructions. All good, all happy, 5 sec countdown and were off!
Steady start for me in 4th or 5th with Martin McDonald pushing in front in this a favoured race of his.
There’s that boulder Paul mentioned demarcating tarmac from trail. Just squeeze in front of Martin there, kept the effort strong for a hundred metres or so and it’s onto single track and relax. Course climbs a bit levels off for a while and then there’s a sustained big climb to the summit. Better be feeling OK at the bottom of that. Someone’s behind, I think I caught a glimpse of Jason’s orange top, then Martin, Bernard and Greg..Experienced and biding their time…and then I’m getting that Ninja feeling of being watched again……..
We start climbing up the side of the Sugarloaf. Steep enough and sustained I just concentrate on keeping it below the red line and I seem to have opened a gap. Relief comes when the gradient levels out having reached the western flank. I’m going well on the flatter hill and have opened the gap wider but I’m sensing eyes now burning into the back of my head from the gap! Definitely a ninja, perhaps a Shaolin monk.
Climbing left to round the cone I glance back. Peter in green vest has moved strongly through to second, followed by Martin, Jason and Greg. No Ninjas, Shaolin monks or Kung Fu Panda’s in sight I was glad to see, but Peter looks to have a strong rhythm climbing and I’m feeling under a bit of pressure all of a sudden.
I’m going to have to walk this cone and I hate walking as I find it hard to get the racing effort back up after. I try to concentrate to keep things steady so I can jog as far up the cone as possible. I jog a few metres hit a gravelly bit, slip and walk and just give in and continue walking. Do Ok here, and don’t think I lost too much time. Coming down is a different story and I’m extremely bockety on the scree, actually walking some of it. Jaysus, get me off this cone before I lose all my lead! Down on the rough path and I’m worse again. Just need to get onto the part where the path gets grassy again. Finally make it! I can’t resist looking up, and I see Peter further up in the rougher stuff. The gap is smaller but still should be enough hopefully. Now just get down into that marsh and the safety of the im-pass-out-able single track.
Very cautious here…down that steep mountain bike mini hill…turn right and there it is again! Definite this time. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the ninja is present! I scarper for it….there’s the road out I go there’s the line….. I look back and Mexican jaysus there’s the ninja in the green vest! The ultra-sneaky effort to pitter-patter up on me silently, foiled by a great descent by Greg, which meant the ninja had to reveal himself by scarpering to hold onto second. Otherwise it might have ended differently, with Peter taking a surprise sprint…or perhaps me crawling over the line 10 minutes later wearing fern adorned headwear! Who knows. Great running by Peter, with very little running in the legs and a pair of shoelaces that needed tying during the climb. Greg’s excellent cone and descent made it a Rathfarnham 123 in the men’s. Jason recovered from a shoe full of stones well with Martin having another impressive outing. Bernard’s descent as probably one of the fastest of the day.

Kate Cronin had another excellent run to be tenth over the line and first woman, collecting the winter and summer league prizes (same as clubmate Des) during the presentation to mark some of the achievements of a fine year for her that isn’t over yet. Aideen Keenan and A.T Kelly were second and third in the race.

Paul Nolan looked like he enjoying his run coming home in 13thafter a fine descent. Not bad for a man who clocks 0 miles per week!
Speaking of legends, apparently a long haired Kerry man laced up an old pair of walshes and climbed Mangerton yesterday…the climb took an impressive 46 mins, although that’s only a minute inside the time he managed to run up and down the same mountain almost 30 years earlier…..but sure if the new hip agrees….he’ll be up it again…. ….. Good news indeed!