The Long way round
04 February, 2015 - Damian CroninThe day started a bit earlier than most as we arrived at registration before Peter and his team had even got themselves setup. We were early on account of the fact that the two Flanaganâ€™s that were with me were about to sign up for their first IMRA run and wanted to get registration sorted out. Benny Flanagan and his son Charlie both members of Portmarnock AC were about to embark on their first foray into the hills. With registration sorted it was back to the car to talk running, mountains, gear and to keep the cold at bay but for poor Charlie the anticipation was almost unbearable. â€œIs it time yetâ€, â€œwhen does the race startâ€, â€œWhat time is it nowâ€. It was great to hear such enthusiasm from young Charlie and eventually with 20mins till race start we exited the car and started running towards the start line trying to generate some heat. I was very glad to be layered up and was very tempted to pull out the jacket stuffed into my cycling jersey pocket but after my warm up run which took me to the top of the steep starting section I was plenty warm enough.
The runners were all gathered at the bottom of the steep road section when I had finished my warm up and eagerly awaiting the off from Peter. After a short pre-race talk from Peter we were released into the wilderness. The first section on the road leading up to the start of the trail is horrible, despite telling myself not to go off like a lunatic, I did. Lungs burning already from the extra effort and the cold air I was delighted to see the end of the tarmac and the start of the trail.
I had backed off the pace a bit to try and save my legs and lungs which were already letting me know that a winter spent on the coach eating whatever I wanted was a really bad idea. I quickly tried to settle into a more sustainable pace and offered my right arm to any deity who might see fit to allow me a bit of respite. I was still only heading up the initial single track to join the main loop of the race at this stage which is well inside the first km. Runners past me at every opportunity as the single track opened up and my legs faded. Eventually we joined the loop and the gradient fell away and at last I could feel my body start to recover from the relentless uphill of the initial section. The legs quickened and instead of looking at my feet I was able to look ahead and pick up the pace. I knew this was only a temporary reprieve and soon we would be heading up again but it was enough to recover my composure and start enjoying the race.
The course had a bit of everything from snow and ice, to rocks and mud and everything in between. Some poor unfortunate behind me definitely found the mud as I heard that unmistakable sound of an IMRA runner going whoop, splat. It was followed as always by â€œare you alrightâ€ to which the reply I think is always â€œyea fineâ€ regardless of your condition or which way your limbs are facing. I suspect there were many bloodied knees and the like by the end of the race but I suppose if you donâ€™t fall at least once a season youâ€™re not trying hard enough.
5Km in and we are homeward bound, heading downhill and picking up speed. I havenâ€™t blinked for 5 mins and I can feel the cold air drying my eyeballs as I concentrate like mad on the terrain ahead of me. Its then it happened! The runners ahead have stopped at a junction and I can hear chatter. My pace slows and I can now hear somebody say â€œno tape hereâ€. I stop, look down at my feet and utter several expletives. I have broken the number 1 rule of racing â€œfollow the tapeâ€. I have been watching the guy ahead and the terrain and lost track of the course tape. I am an eejit but at least I am in good company. Like sheep we walk back up the hill then we walk down the hill then we walk up the hill and then finally somebody makes a decision and we all follow back down the hill. When I look at the Garmin output later I realise that we have run last yearâ€™s course. Good memory but sheep none the less.
Time to put the hammer down and as we re-join the runners who have run the correct course I have forgotten that my legs and lungs are sore. This is mainly due to my pride hurting and you can only feel pain in one place at a time. I charge downhill as fast as I can go trying to make up some time and I am not alone. Lots of runners have made the same mistake and are now trying really hard to make up time and we weave in and out of runners dashing downhill and throwing caution to the wind. All too soon the finish line approaches and I hear my number called out. I cross the line and think to myself â€œso what it was still a great race and a great course even if it was last yearâ€™s courseâ€.
I was followed shortly by Benny and then after a somewhat anxious wait young Charlie crossed the line. As we walked back to Lamb Doyles Charlie regaled us with stories of the adventure he had on the mountain. As he chatted excitedly he had a big grin on his face and I knew that it wasnâ€™t the last mountain run Charlie would take part in.
Well done to Peter and his crew for a great race.
04 February, 2015From my training log (plus a bit more)
Ticknock hill run. I ran a recce with Cillin the day before. It was a nice way to train and also did help for the race. We knew where the route was tough and that. We cycled to the event the next morning, pretty cold but I expected worse. A decent warm up makes a huge difference for me personally and after running up the course a little I felt good to go.
I was a few rows back at the start but was planning to keep it steady on the initial climb after getting it all wrong in Howth. I always get nervous in the last moments before a race. This was no different but only took a few seconds to settle into the runners around me. Took a few spurts to pass out a few runners on the narrow trail as there were ~20 runners ahead of me initially. I found myself behind Aonghus and could relax in his shadow. I looked up and could see Cillin moving forward and the fast guys were way up ahead on the hill. I had runners that I knew were close behind in my head but refused to look around. I was on my own rhythm. Nearing the top I passed Paul Keville, good feedback. A little sleep, knee to the ice. Ouch. I was happy to hit the path across the mountain and kicked on here. I caught up some ground on Aonghus' and the runners in front of him. I passed a few runners while nearing the forest and got over the barrier cleanly. I could see Cillin and Conor ahead and I was happy with the gap. I was slowly catching Aonghus' group but it was happening very slowly. I was running alone here but the group ahead was almost towing me along. I found the muddy and rocky tracks tough but tried to get through strongly. I felt comfortable enough at the top but I'm happy I didn't run any faster up to here. I'm better at starting steady and pushing on over starting fast and hanging on. Some positive words from Mike just before entering the forest. I ran well down the rocky track, tricky to pass lad with a red jacket. Suddenly Cillin was behind Aonghus and Caoimhin, and in front of me. I could tell something was up as I'd caught up too much ground too quickly. Turns out it was a stitch. Then came the downhill through the forest, I felt good and ran fast past Caoimhin. Aonghus was ahead now but further than before. Running as fast as I could through the downhill meant I was on his tail once we left the forest. I was glad to be with him on the icy track. I stuck in behind him, almost step for step. I passed him just before the forest, we'd caught up ground on Conor and he was in sight again. Then gained ground on Conor through the forest, . I caught him on the small section of flat. I knew the downhill to finish was coming up so tried to get a gap. I got a little one, Conor looked like he was tired here. But I know how strong Conor is on the downhill. I ran as fast as I could on the downhill, panicked at the start due to the ice but then we were past it. I managed to just about stay ahead, the flat part after the U-turn helped me out.
It turned out the two fast guys missed a turn before the muddy stuff so I was 1st. This was my third hill race so it was a weird feeling to win it. I got lucky with the wanderers and maybe also with Cillin getting a stitch but I'll take it. On reflection, I am very happy with the result but more happy with how the race went in general. I stuck to my plan and it worked out. The downhill and flats were strong but I do need to work on the uphill.
Thanks to Peter and all the other helpers. It was a really enjoyable route, especially down through that forest. I don't know when I'll next make a race but I look forward to it!
Ticknock Winter 2015
03 February, 2015 - Mick HanneyMy first IMRA foray of the year having missed out on the trip to Howth due to a bout of fluey stuff. The weekend had begun nicely with a first parkrun for me ever in Marley the previous day to stretch the legs. A host of familiar faces crowded around Lamb Doyles. The gentle hum of a well tuned logistical machine in operation on the first floor where even the registration walkthrough path had marking tape.
An easy jog up and down the initial stretch to warm up. Wasn't looking forward to running along the ramp of a road but it was the same for everyone. Was nice to see appreciation for the juniors starting first on what was probably a tougher steeper assignment to the rest of us.
With temperatures around the zero mark there was no complaints from people who were happy to be wrapped up in jackets, hats and gloves and whatever else would shut out the cold.
With some brief words from maestro Peter we were off, some off quicker than others. The icy conditions were apparent soon after we turned onto the single tracks for the journey upwards and onwards.
For my own part I was quite happy to run within myself, head down, concentrating on footing amongst the icy bits. Very happy too that I was wearing a pair of inov8s with rubbery grip which worked out perfect for the day. Whenever I looked up I could see runners getting away from me. Angus, Alan Ayling to mention just two. I was happy to run steady and keep running. Through and around some nasty icy pools and rubble strewn paths hewn from the mountain the going wasn't easy in places. Where the muddy bits came from on such a cold and icy day I don't know.
Past various helpful marshalls we went. Theirs was a tough job on a cold day such as this. Mike Long shouted out a warning for an acute right turn on the trail ahead. I was conscious of this running along and happy to see the odd streamer of tape to confirm the way was still on course. I was about to run past Caitlin Bent when she directed me immediately right - follow the markers she said, or words to that effect. I was very grateful for the shout out as to be honest the way right wasn't obvious to me.
Joyfully down through the trees, meandering around trunk and branch we went bouncing on the soft pine needled ground. Down and down. A lovely piece of route. Out of the trees I became aware that I was actually in a race as a couple of runners around around me in single ish file contesting for position with places won and lost in quick succession. Down more icy paths we went. The rest of the race was a nice fog of more single tracks, tree and branch avoidance, marking tape identification, gasping for breath, realising that the legs still had a bit of go about them so up the pace I tried to do.
Didn't recognise some of the runners around me until I saw John Langenbach and realised I was catching up but was running out of course and quick. Hit the cones directly after John, my no. was called but an canny interloper dashed ahead of me at the cones and was rewarded with a place up the results line. Don't ease up at the finish is the crucial lesson.
Lots of smiley faces at the finish. Mores the pity I couldn't hang on to swap stories, which would have been interesting giving the news of the extended races later. Next race Trooperstown. Looking forward to it. And we have a surprise or two in store on the Annacurra route which might slow the usual speedsters down at the end of the month. Hoping to see the usual faces down there. I know Turlough has something to settle on that course, if we can get him to do a hill race again ;-)
Thanks Peter & crew.
02 February, 2015Last year, a hardy Northern Irish raider took full advantage of a fast Raheny Shamrocks runner missing a turn on the course.
This year, a succession of hardy orienteers took full advantage of a fast Raheny Shamrocks runner missing a turn on the course.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
A change in the route was introduced this year to reduce the likelihood of runners missing a turn off Kilmashogue Lane, that part worked fine. Unfortunately about 80 runners missed the new turn into the forest. Follow the tape. Easier said than done though, as I well know.
The weather on the day was fantastic. Dry, clear, cloudless and windless. The mountain itself was frozen solid but the route was mostly fine underfoot.
Aonghus O'Cleirigh made a welcome return to a hillrunning podium after various injuries kept him away for a few years with only two other orienteers, Laurence Quinn and Conor Short, holding him away from the top spot. Aonghus's podium left the M50 prize open for the one and only Gerry Lalor to fill. Which he did, also in the top ten overall. Shane Young made the most of a rare trip east from the Young's Killary stronghold for 6th although I see from the results his sister Kim managed 2nd, sorry you missed your prize on the day Kim.
At the other end of the age spectrum Ben Clarke and Caoimhe O'Boyle were worthy winners on the junior course with Zoe Tyner, Eoin Redmond, Charlie Flanagan and Federico Garcia Azcarate Kuthnik all making full use of their course and the 3 marshalls out on their Boneshaker section watching out for them. Ben was actually the very first runner home in the entire field. The O'Boyle ladies know how to win with Niamh winning the ladies race ahead of Kim Young and Tina O'Mara. Forty is most definitely the new thirty with a cracking race for the win amongst the F40 ladies just edged by Lindsey Heppenstall.
Every seemed to have brought a jacket and one man did ask was it OK to just have at the start and the finish, I don't believe he was joking but everyone else did laugh. Whatever about the rights or wrongs of jackets in the height of summer, the point being made is some personal responsibility - we are in the depths of winter at the moment.
18 people were listed on the volunteer page but another three or four provided great help. The next race is at Trooperstown on the 15th, after a happy Valentine's Day maybe consider volunteering there or at Annacurra. Plenty of positions still to be filled. Thanks again to all the helpers yesterday.