Irish Mountain
Running Association

Slievenamon - European Trials


Mícheál O'MullainBarry Murray


My wife being from Clonmel this is a familiar mountain for me. I had been up there the weekend before and was ankle deep in snow and slush.

By the time I arrived at the usual parking spot it was clear that it was not going to be a day for admiring the views. At the start the organisers advised that given the visibility that the loop off the back of the mountain was out and would be replaced by one on the South side of the mountain near the bottom. I was a bit disappointed as was hoping my familiarity with the mountain would gain me some slight advantage over those who had not been there before! It was clear when up top that it had been the correct decision as ten yards was about as far as one could see.

I had expected a few hundred yards of fraught charging up the narrow path so was pleasantly surprised to see that the start was in the field next to it. So off we went puffing and panting (well me at any rate) up the field.

On to the open mountain it was soon clear that my lack of training and the ill advised 10 mile jog I had undertaken the night before were going to take their toll and my ego soon began writing cheques that the body wasn't cashing. Once on the slog uphill I was congratulating myself on seeing Mark Horvath only slightly up ahead as well as local girl Kealey Tideswell who would be fast on the road. Of course if I had known then that Mark was after doing the Maurice Mullins Half the day before it would have been the end of me.

I had a good battle with one of the juniors on the way up but she pulled ahead just before her turn at the lower cairn. By that stage it had been a case of "Observe the Sons of Ulster Charging Down the mountain" as two lads from Newcastle AC came by at breakneck pace. The fact that this was a European Trial was always going to make it a belittling experience for the likes of me!

Just before the top Eddie from Clonakilty charged by on the way down and seemed to be going very well.

So, around the summit cairn and the inevitable "now to catch people on the descent" thoughts. It was hard to go full tilt on the way down and in a way the trail on Slievenamon is not rough enough to make time on the less sure footed. I passed a few on the way down but was passed myself as well and took one fairly long tumble/slide near the bottom but it was in an area without rocks thankfully. Given the mist it at times felt like a solo outing....maybe that was because I was so far back?!

Just before the Memory Seat we were directed right onto the loop on the South side of the mountain which was mostly a rough but enjoyable track. I did pass one man wearing a Ballyroan Co Laois singlet and he looked injured so hope he was ok the day after and not too crocked.

After the loop and then the charge down the field and the anxious look behind to see was there a baying mob approaching. There wasn't so I crossed the line about half way down the field which I was happy enough with in the circumstances.

As Barry said great kudos to the farmer for the hose down after and a huge congrats to the organisers for a very well run and enjoyable event.

Gorrilla's in the Mist

A proper Irish mountain race. Best way to describe it. Damp, grey and misty up the back roads somewhere. Car park in a farmers yard. Registration in a boggy farmers field. Everyone getting changed in the back of the car.

It happened to be a qualification race too so plenty of fast legs around and plenty of young whipper snappers. With the conditions, the lads had to change the course and opt for plan B. This shortened the course a bit and took out a second climb. But it was warranted as the visibility was really poor.

It was a debut RD for Jay and he had his hands full but everything worked out perfectly and it was very well organised. Plenty of marshals at the start and around the course.

A long cross country drive for me from west Kerry for this one but I arrived in plenty of time. Got a warm up in with 2 lads from the north and was ready for the race start. Like I said, a proper Irish mountain race, with the start at the bottom of a boggy field and the race direction going up.

With these qualification races for all age groups, the juniors all fly off at the start. I had familiar faces from MMRA of Sean, Paul, Henry and Ed to pace myself off and others like Bernard Fortune. It was the first proper up/down mountain race of the year for me so I just wanted to sort of ease into it. Up the boggy field had people panting... and then we were onto to the mountain path climb. Sean and Paul went off a bit ahead of me, and I had Bernard and Ed close to me. Sarah McCormack was just ahead too who beats most of us men in these races !

It has a long slog up , visibility worsened, and it was a combination of short slow trotting and hands on the knee's plodding. We hit the first sort of false summit and Barry Harnett was there to guide us towards the main summit. I went slightly off track and Ed called me back. I had Bernard just ahead of me so I was trying to just catch up with him. We came to the big cairn, and I was watching who was coming past me. A few of the flyers were well ahead... I saw Sean and Paul come by me, then Sarah..... then was just about to round the cairn... but didn't see anyone else come around . Bernard and Henry seemed to have disappeared.

Onto the descent then, and it was rocky, slippy and wet. I couldn't see anyone ahead of me and wasn't able to go full gas downhill. Its the sort of running you just need to practice at race pace. I hadn't done much of it recently. So kind of felt out of the race. I was looking forward to the planB route which meant there was an extra section of 2-3km where it was an out and back on level trail. But half way down the descent, Ed came past me and I just let him go. Thought I would be able to catch a few on the out and back section but it was a rough rocky track that was hard to run properly on. plently of splishing and sploshing and jumping over rocks.... still didn't catch back Ed and had no-one behind me. Got to the last turn off where Robbie and a few of the other marshalls were and it was back down the field to the finish. Not sure where I came, maybe 10 or so ahead of me. No Bernard or Henry... as it turned out the took another route off the summit and ended up on the planA course !

Back to the farmers car park, and the farmer himself was there with a rubber pipe to hose us down. Almost a father Ted moment.

Plenty of tea's and sambo's at the local after. 2 of the northern lads I was warming up with happened to be 1st and 2nd. Sarah dominated the ladies race and most of us men too ! Plenty of fast youths and juniors so it will be great to see them progress.

Another great IMRA event , well run by the SE and MMRA lads, and a proper Irish mountain run. I'll look forward to coming back to see it on a clear day