07 April, 2016 - Richard ForrestTravelled with Denis Carroll, we did the UCC 10K earlier in the day so we wondered how our legs would be. This was to be Denis's first mountain run in a long and successful career to date. We drove the Butter Road from Blarney via Rylane. It’s almost a straight drive all the way with scarcely another car to be met with. Coming close to Millstreet we noticed the road was bone dry, it had been a wet afternoon in Cork. We were glad of that but when we got a little further we found it had turned wet. Claragh looked pretty daunting as we looked up at the cross from the club house door with Ted Feehan. Off we went to the starting line with trepidation but without any obvious rain.
We ran along the road section and already my glasses were fogging up. This was to remain a problem, I must have taken them off half a dozen times to wipe them without much improvement. I came down the mountain with considerably impaired vision but without mishap thankfully. Then again many people ran through the heather without being able to see what was lurking within. I managed to keep running going up through the woods but, as with most people, things ground down on hitting the open mountain. The start of it being possibly one of the steepest sections. As always, it was a treat to witness the leading runners on their descent. The ground was soft and slippy under foot and we wavered left and right to pick out better landings. I got up to a trot as I went over the lull before the top. Once there it was around the stewards and the cross before beginning a new chapter with the descent and some blind faith. The painstaking care being exercised while descending(at least on my part) being overridden from time to time by the sheer exhilaration of it all. On through the mud of the relatively flat section (which has a short, steep uphill to burst our bubble and remind us of the outward journey). Then into the tree cover which has some steep and stony sections that can bring a near collision with the stile if the brakes aren’t applied timely. Soon on to the roads then, which flatten out before finishing with a rise. Denis was happy with his first mountain run, his pristine jacket bearing evidence of it. Some good chats and tea. As we left the hall we were glad to have the job done rather than having to start on it now. We stopped at the Kerryman’s Table, admired the view and took some photos. We met even less cars on the way back. A good day’s athletics.
05 April, 2016 - Paul DeaneDepending on what side you approached Millstreet from on Sunday evening you were either expecting bone dry conditions or a deluge for the race. Conditions eventually settled on ‘damp’ and the course this year was wet and muddy underfoot in comparison to the previous two dryer years. A good turnout this year of about 70 runners headed off at the earlier start time of 6.30 on the fast downhill start to Claragh Mountain. I headed out with the lead runners of Tom Blackburn and John Paul O Connell and we were followed closely with a group led by Eddie Casey. As we turned off the paved road up the forest trail the legs and lungs began to burn as all of us tried to find the best lines through the muddy trail. The climb up to the peak was challenging with slippery sections on the soft bog. I was first to summit with John Paul and Tom making the turnaround at the summit just behind me. The run down off Claragh is one of my favorites. You can throw yourself at it and the ground will fall away to catch you….hopefully….Many runners this year opted for a running line on the heather (or near the gorse as many lightly bloodied legs and knees attested to at the end) instead of the path in search of a cleaner quicker line down the mountain…it is a fast fun descent. But for all the speed coming down the Mountain, the last 400m drag up to the finish line is a great struggle and we were all glad to see the finish line and seek refuge in the community hall where we were spoiled with a fine feed of tea/scone/buns and sandwiches. Thanks to all the stewards and organizers and to all who helped with the amazing food at the end. Looking forward to next year already