Irish Mountain
Running Association

Tonelagee and lap of the Lake


Maike JürgensGreg Byrne

tonelagee and lap of the lake 2017

i haven't written a race report in ages but this race had so many good things about it, i can't resist.

i wasn't 100% sure i was going to make the drive up for the race, Mike was busy with Mountain Rescue training. Then my ex-flatmate told me there were going to be celebrations on Friday night and would I be around - perfect plan so. Apart from the travel time+no water+pint of Guinness ... great fun to be tipsy after just 1 pint but really no fun in the morning when i woke up with a headache. oh well, surely running around mountains would cure that.
i arrived in good time for race registration so there was plenty of time to catch up (according to Nora I acquired a Waterford accent ...). a quick warm up (= 100 m jog to the key drop off and 100 m jog back to the start) and look at the hills (map was to stay firmly in the bag and the compass wasn't going to be needed and Adrian started his race briefing. the minute left to the start was used by Justin to highlight the lemonade and flapjack fundraising for after the race.
the start came as a bit of a surprise. the first few 100 m are quite manic in this race (it feels like that to me anyway) but the best bit was Niamh and Orla chatting about kids and route options right behind me before racing off after a few minutes. I don't really like this section of the course with a downhill not being my favourite but was determined to do better than last year and not end up at the very back of the field with catching up to do on the uphill. it sort of worked out.
going up towards the ridge was a very interesting view with runners ahead taking the route aiming for Tonelagee (about 80%) and a more straight up turn right option (probably the remaining 20%). i trudged on feeling too warm and grumbling over the rough ground but looking forward to the run around the lake and the steep climb later on. a few chats with people along the way made life easier and whops we were at the drop down to the lake. previously not my favourite, the running in the comeraghs seems to have vetted my appetite for doing steep downhills (or maybe it was just luck) but for the first time ever i overtook Vivian on the downhill (he finished ahead of me in the end :D) with some planned bum sliding certainly helping. a boghole fall and some careful navigating across the river and the whole field met at the very tip of the lake. some chatting with Niamh and we were at the climb with Orla on our heels.
i had some jellies in my backpocket (literally) so was munching away on the climb but i just didnt have the last few bits of energy to keep pushing (i blame the pints) so we enjoyed the views instead (that were quite amazing!). the climb seemed much shorter than last year and we were at the top in no time. i was determined to go downhill fast and it worked the first half but my legs just got really tired towards the end. the finish line was a welcome sight and i was surprised to find i finished in the same time as last year (bar a few seconds).
the lemonade was amazing afterwards together with some more catching up and the inevitable comments from James about me following him in a race to beat him at the end (i never managed to catch him since!).
thanks to all volunteers and the lemonade and flapjack suppliers - i am sure we could have done with double supplies :D.

Tóin le Gaoith gan gaoithe

Downhill starts; one of humankind’s great innovations… up there with Walsh PB’s, the other 3 wheels and wasabi peas. And so it began at a frenetic pace as 50 or so agitated souls descended onto St. Kevin’s Way under the bemused gaze to the recently arrived coach tour.

From the go we were filtered onto a narrow trail down to the forest. Those with experience and those with high expectations made sure to get up front early. Despite widening along by the forest our trail section was limited by the unknown depth of the bog on the right hand side. Therefore we stayed pretty much in single file down to the road. Exiting the forest we met the first casualty of the of the day, poor Conor O’Keefe holding an ankle and considering the walk home. A brief check and he insisted that we continue.

Crossing the road opened up the field as we moved from single file into smaller groupings. A keen sports psychologist might have liked to pause the game at this point to assess who was being stubbornly independent, who was gambling their race and who was following every footfall of the runners ahead. As it was we headed in at least five different directions. Jason chose to go high, Adrian stayed low, Bernard went for the middle ground. My plan was to head for the head of stream channel scaring the slopes ahead. This put me half-way between Adrian and Bernard, but a good distance down already. The Bell’s were together on my right in a group of 4, Zoran close by, but Jason was not to be seen…

Cresting the first ridge I could see Adrian was staying high and steadily climbing, while Bernard and the others had descended slightly in search of the most direct line. Who had made the better choice, or who was going to work harder to make their choice better? In the end Adrian crossed over lakeside only metres ahead of Bernard, but 50 metres up on the chasing pack. Where was Jason?

Crossing over the ridge that guards the southern edge of the lake I could see Adrian diving down through the heather andI followed suit aiming to hit the lakeshore as soon as possible. Several detours ensued as I gambled on seemingly decent deer tracks, but eventually I hit the lakeshore and the main track that would take us home.

Crossing the stepping stones I could hear the runners behind closing fast. No intention of looking back I vowed only to find out who they were if they passed me. I very quickly found out that one was Jason. Despite all the motivational sayings I could possibly pass through my sub-conscious I was not able dig deep enough to stay ahead and Jason passed as we stepped onto the steeper slopes along Tonelagee’s north eastern cliffs. Quickly my focus switched the the proverbial elastic band that he was now going to use to pull me up the hill. Jason the pacemaker I mused.

As the slope eased off we could see the standing stone. At this point I could hear at least one runner behind, but I could also see the trig point ahead. John Bell had chased down Bernard and myself on Wednesday so the assumption would have to be that his confidence in a repeat would be high. Thus with a touch of the trig there was no backward glance. I pushed hard off the summit to gain any little momentum and focused on the rocks 100 metres southwest.

From the top I was somewhat resigned to battling for fourth. Adrian & Bernard were well clear and Jason had about 30 seconds on me by the top. Given the quality of their descending I was not going to make up that gap without their assistance. Resigned early I was keen to stick to the path and stay perpendicular to the ground. The latter I achieved, the former is debatable given that I burst through the heather onto the finishing shoot and confirmation of fourth.

A glass of homemade Rea lemonade revived the spirits and helped inspire some cheers for the runners as they charged home.

Garmin says 9.35km and 546 metres of climb. Strava race playback:

Many thanks to Adrian Tucker and the volunteers.

Congrats to Adrian and Becky on taking the opening round of the Leinster Champs.