Tibradden/Sliabh Thigh Bródáin
29 June, 2017 - Barry MurrayFrom a balmy Brockagh last week to a tepid Tibradden this week. More volunteers than you could shake a stick at too. The on course marshalls were great to have, fair play to everyone.
I had a plan this time. If you turn up regularly on a Wed evening, you soon start to notice patterns. You notice who’s always in front of you and by how much. So a simple formula is to try run as close as you can to whoever that person is and try and pass them. I have always finished 1-2mins behind Bernard. So the plan was to run on his shoulder this time. I get to the start line, and there is no Bernard. I then look for Pat Foley, similar sort of pace, but again, no Pat. I then look for Greg who has been up there too with Bernard and Pat, but no Greg !
So I’m left with an old crony, Mikey ! ;-) I run off a little quicker than normal as Mikey goes out fairly fast. No Jason or Diarmaid this time, but we had another flyer of a different breed, Killian.
I know Tibradden mountain and surroundings well as I grew up close. Knowing the terrain well is an advantage. This is a runners course, mostly hard packed, with a few rocks thrown in . Aside from noticing patterns in these races, you soon very quickly notice the sort of form you are in on the night. You rarely are in top form every race, maybe some freaks are, but most of us have good days and off days. I seem to have a lot of just about good days, not very many top days, and not very many off days. This was a top day, where you just feel good in the first 1-2km and breathing and heart rate seem fine even though you are going faster than normal.
Lots of different factors that govern this which I won’t bother trying to get into here. But suffice to say, turning up for a leinster league race and just feeling in full flight is a rare but nice thing.
The usual pattern on the first long climb up has me just behind Mikey and old timer Ben Mooney. As we approached fairy castle summit, the 3 of us jostled for position, Ben likes to be first to the top, Mikey doesn’t like people passing him, and I was just tucking in for some shelter !
I passed Ben and Mikey on the first rocky descent and then we traversed the boggy stoney section. I have trained up here for years so I knew it well. Got to marshall Brian who shouted “4th” at me and I knew I was in a good place. Mist descended so we couldn’t see that far ahead. Another rocky boneshaker section which I knew well and I was gradually pulling away from Mikey. Very easy to cream yourself on this part though.
Up over the last climb and I was hoping to hunt down 3rd but no sign. A fast slippy rock descent and I was still feeling good and running hard. The week before I was in a heap at the end. Not this week. One wonders how exactly that works.
Anyways, some fast guys ahead of me, but I’m ahead of most of my competition. Even beat Mr Wicklow Way out and back this time.
A different sort of course compared to other more technical routes but a nice change all the same. More midgies than volunteers even, but it all comes with the territory. Another nice mid week running festival. Thanks to Tanya and crew.
29 June, 2017 - Graham K. BusheA quick look at my history informs me that this is my third attempt at a race, which in the past has been the only one that I ran the whole way on one attempt and also a race in which I fell TWICE during another attempt. So, some mixed feelings as I make my way to registration. It’s damp, but not lashing and though not as stifling as last week at Brockagh the midges are still out in force; and my thoughts are with the volunteers. I once again remember the busy first aiders tending to cuts, grazes and bruises. I have layered up anticipating a cutting breeze ahead, but after a bit of a warm-up have rolled up my sleeves and transferred my buff to my wrist. The usual pleasantries are exchanged and thoughts on what the terrain might be like. We step across the fallen tree, get our race instructions then it’s a countdown from 5…
Yet another swift start up the fire road and soon I’m breathing hard, but somewhere close to the top 15, with the usual suspects just ahead. As we climb the rocks leaving the forest I take a couple of walking steps to catch my breath and settle a bit, then off again as we hit the short boardwalk (I thought it was longer) Then we are out on the mountain and the runners have quickly spread out and are disappearing into the mist ahead. Thankfully the run to the junior turn-around passes without any major upsets, a quick hello and thanks to the marshals and I’m back on the Wicklow Way. The last time I was coming up here I was moving much slower… Then I’m on my most favourite stretch in the whole world; NOT! There is just something about this section, the jagged rocks, the holes, the puddles, the stepping stones in them - some steady, some not. But on I go, trying to keep in touch though I can’t see anyone ahead and with Rob Costello pressing behind. Footsteps on my left distract me for a split second, I snag my right toe on one of those jagged rocks but just manage to catch myself in time. Peter Gorman eases by me despite my efforts and was soon pulling ahead. Thankfully we pass the top of Fairy Castle and we pick up the pace a bit. I’m often amused at how I jump, skip or dance around puddles early on in runs only later to eventually accept that I’m going to get wet feet sometimes. With my feet nicely soaked I complete the loop and now I have to go through that $%^* again!! I feel like my feet are just going straight up and down as I pick my way through the obstacles and sure enough as we leave the Wicklow Way onto the Dublin Way Rob has closed the gap again. Deciding to make another push on the last climb with Peter just about in sight we’re negotiating some early starters. Suddenly I see Peter in a roll but he is on his feet in a flash thankfully and continues running. As we start to descend from Tibradden I catch up and ask if he is ok. He says he is fine and I push on trying to pick the ‘nicest’ path down. Before too long I’m entering the woods again but there is no sign of anyone in front of me and no footsteps directly behind. Strange as it may seem it I was finding it tough to ‘up the pace’ with nobody to chase or escape from. Around the final bend and the finish line in sight my legs wanted to slow, but I managed to accelerate for the last few yards.
I did manage to gain few places on last year, but as Barry Murray (who left me in a cloud of mist on the first climb) pointed out in his report there were a few missing from the starting line-up.
Thanks to Tanya and her team of volunteers who had to endure the wet and the midges last night. Though I don’t think the first-aiders were as busy as in previous years. Another great night in the hills running (and thankfully this time, not falling!)
I make it back to the car to see Kevin there waiting patiently - having finished God-knows how much earlier with his Junior Male prize in hand! Super-efficient, and the results posted in jig time.
Only 2 races left in the league! Wow! What happened?