Irish Mountain
Running Association

Mountain Rescue Benefit Race


Peter O'FarrellConor O'Farrell

Peter O'Farrell

Thanks to Gareth Little and all at both mountain rescue teams for putting on a super course for us there last night. As luck would have it no sooner had they finished removing the last little bit of tape from the course and could start thinking about heading to the pub they received a callout and instead headed up towards the flank of Brockagh. A sharp reminder, if one were needed, of the good they do providing the invisible safety net sitting under our races and weekend adventures.
7.5km of trail fun and about 200m of off trail mountain side awaited the 91 eager runners. Eager and a little tiny bit sad as the Wednesday evening dashes to Wicklow are at an end for another year. As it happens I think it's great that the daylight pulls a natural curtain on the evening season as what ends will start again and the anticipation of next season's fun can start already. I'm getting old enough now to appreciate seasons and the ebb and flow of different sports at different times of the year.
The course was very very fast for a hillrun and was extraordinarily well marshalled by the rescue crews and the tin whistling Graham Bushe. It was the perfect length for an end of season race and stayed out of forests to make the most of the daylight.
Neilus Healy had spotted the scarcity of recent winners and started very strongly pulling out a biggish lead. The only junior in the race, Ciaran Flynn from Glenmore AC, followed smartly with what appeared to be his schoolbag attached to his back. He was probably still on a high from receiving the biggest cheer of the night when declaring to Gareth that he was doing the long course, man!
The remaining 89 of us followed on steadily and after a little while news came back from my legs. It was all good. There were to be no more excuses, take a leaf out of Neilus's book and get after it. The lungs were in fine fettle also and the race was on. I nipped past young Ciaran and tried to get closer to Neilus. This took what seemed like a long time but I was born in a land before smart phones and so can spend what seems like a long time doing something.
Both Neilus and myself have had very similar goes of it this year and it looked like one of us would finally get a win to cap off a good hill running season before the winter goals kick in. The off trail section gave me some hope and then on the next section I just got ahead. At this point I directed all spare blood flow to the ears, pinned them back and just went for it, hard (as Colm Hill might say) I reckoned the chance of winning was worth the risk of blowing up.
Our glorious leader/captain and president Tanya Sheridan took a fine win ahead of Siobhan Lyons and Lisa Howley with one of the best potters in the business Hilary Jenkinson joining Fiona Sheerin and Ger Power for the category prizes.
Ger Maloney is certainly getting over his recent injuries winning the M50 cat and also coming 4th overall. Torben Dahl and Dan Geelon took the other cat prizes.
Ronan Costelloe had a super race, Richard Church felt it could have been 119km longer, Paul Mahon gashed his knee (secret shopper for the mountain rescue validation team maybe) and the pub back in Roundwood looked after us all very well.

PS : Brendan Lawlor is attempting to start a new currency up in roundwood. The Lawlor IOU.........

Is summer really over?

So, the last of the midweek running drew in with a real kicker. The Mountain Rescue Benefit Race drew a smaller crowd than the usual Leinster League races of the previous few weeks, but that did not take away from the event.

I pick up Dave Docherty at the folks gaff and headed on down to Roundwood, where we piled into Shane Colgan's car, to do our bit for the environment (and get a prime parking spot outside Kavanagh's early doors ;-)). registration was nice and smooth and off we went up to the race start.

Gareth got sent us off with a short brief on the good work of the Mountain Rescue crew and with a brief route description from Mike, off we went. I thought I was feeling quite good before the race, so I edged forward a bit to get a good start position. As we headed up the road, avoiding the horse-sh1t, I see Tanya(HRH) flying by(through) me, elbows swinging, gliding by the people ahead and leaving them for dust - it came as no surprise that she came in as first lady.

By the time we got to the steps I was beginning to get the feeling that I'd started out too fast, Gavan Docherty passed me somewhere here, starting at the back and cutting his way through the field as usual. Over the stile and onto the open field, and the body was having none of it. I was being passed by a lot of people, Tommy Gormley, Lisa Howley (well done on 3rd lady) and Shane Colgon of those that I know. This was going to be a real slog. Around this time, I rolled my right ankle slightly, so I stopped to assess. A quick stretch and rotation, and everything seemed OK, so I set off again.

Fiona Sheeran, my nemesis, passed me soon after this, but I could feel a bit of life coming back into the legs now (maybe the brief rest helped), if I could get across the heather without any issues I could get a bit of speed back in the legs. I managed to get past Fiona just before the fire-road/river-bed and set off in pursuit of the next person. There was a long gap, I could see Tommy and 1 other up ahead, around 400-500m(?), with Niamh O'Gorman about halfway between them . I managed to catch Niamh just after the stile, then powered up the climb in pursuit of Tommy and friend.

Very fast on the downhill and I was defineitely closing on them, past the shelter where I got a good cheer from the onlookers. Getting a bit of a boost from this I really went for it no this downhill section. I could hear Graham's tin whistle before I could see him as he was having a nice lie down in the ferns. I could see the markers go on down to the left(where I should be going), but Graham anticipated my move (or lack thereof) before I did and shouted "LEFT!!! NO LEFT!!!" My head knew exactly where I should be going, but my legs had other ideas altogether, so they kept going straight. I struggled to stop, then do the u-turn and head down the correct route.

A lot of momentum lost there, but I could see Tommy and friend up ahead, they were starting to push though. On through the ferns and there was John Shiels snapping some shots before that nasty little hill up to the stile. I passed a couple of people here, but Tommy still had a good lead, so I couldn't be lazy now. I managed to pull back some good distance here, but Tommy had spotted me and started to go for it as the terrain levelled out. A good 100+m ahead of me at the stile and I knew I couldn't catch him. Still, I really went for it all the way down but probably only gained a few metres back on Tommy, he's always a strong finisher and was the better man on the day. We've had some good battles this year, but it would have been nice to have one last sprint for the line together (although I'd never have won that!)

Some good chats at the end as per usual, then back to the Kavanaghs for some toasties, chips and chocolate. Many thanks to the Mountain Rescue crews for hosting the event. It was a shame they couldn;t be there for the prizegiving, but that's the thankless task (well, not in this case) for a Mountain Rescue team.

So, now that the midweek races are over, so it seems is the summer. I feel like I should be packing my backs for school or something to that effect. I guess there nothing for it but to don the head-torch of a Wednesday evening and head for the hills, hopefully I will see some of you out there.

Thanks so much to IMRA, the committee and the all of volunteers for the summer races. It's always great craic, regardless of the quality of my running ;-).