Irish Mountain
Running Association

Annagh Hill


Peter BellBarry MurrayMick HanneyMikey Fry

Annagh hill ass kicking!!

Annagh hill u just kicked my ass again!! There was great hype building up for this one. Mikey had the lovely family with him and Barry had made the trip across from Kerry, John {the china doll} Bell was injured and the other brother kev has been eating weights for breakfast in the gym was hoping for a good race. The talking over the past few weeks was over and it was time to race!!
Arrived at the start line with the plan to just sit in behind the fast front group until the top and then try pick up the pace and see what happens.
Off we went, Mick took an early lead up to the wall, I could see Mikey and Robin take the lead ahead . Me, Bernard, Barry and Brian kept the power hike going, not loosing too much ground on the two in front. I felt good half way up and was about to try get the run going, when I got a nice reminder from Bernard that its a long race. Wise words. I decided to keep the power hike going. Got to the top and was glad I didn't go early as I would be feeling it now. Picked up the pace on the top section, over took Bernard and Barry and was closing in on Mikey. caught Mikey and then started to close in on Robin. We started the decent on the other side and when Robin Ploughed straight through the giant puddle it slowed him down a bit and I was able to go around it to catch and overtake him just as we came down into the trees. Now just in front I knew I had to go flat out on this down hill section to have a chance of a top 3 finish as Robin will defo catch me on the climb back up. so put the foot down and passed the two marshals and kept going hard as I could. Then I found myself at a junction on the fire road and there was no tape. I realised I had gone wrong so headed back up the hill, where I should have gone straight through the trees. which was well marked. I don't know how I missed it!! Well I didn't come all this way to walk so decided to go again and see where I can finish, after all its a great race. I started to make back a few places, caught Mike and then Mick. I was happy as I know these two are good runners so I was still in a good position. Got back onto the top section for the return back. Becky and another runner where just ahead and turned left at a red arrow. I taught there's no imra on it, but followed anyway{clever boy}. The trail ends and we see the guys going by up above us, so we climbed back up. lost a few more places again. I could see Mick again and decided to try once more. I got my chance on the decent, finishing in a good position. Back to the pub to realise my car keys where back in the key bag. so off I went back up the hill. Finally back in the pub for some good feeds and a lovely cup of tea, which Barry Murray stole on me when I went for my pizza.
In the end its a great course, one on the best on the calendar and well worth the trip. Big thanks to Paul and his team for giving up their time, cant wait for the next one.
If there's a lesson I have taken from this race today, its never leave your cup of tea alone around Barry.
P.s Mikey I have ur prise and im spending it.

Vegan Hill

Living now out in the wild west makes it difficult to get to Leinster races so I was delighted when I saw Annagh Hill was on the same weekend as a talk I was booked in to do with Wexford Tri Club. Its arguably the most comprehensive league race in terms of what it offers – steep climbs, steep descents, technical sections, rocks, mud, and very little fireroad. As Mick Hanney mentioned, its like a sort of a very mini Barkley Marathon, maybe drop a few books around the course to add to the challenge !

Myself , the Bell bro’s and Mikey formed a little whatsapp group last year and the banter never stops. Thinking that the lads needed some help with their training , I shared a training plan with them that I thought 1. they would ignore and 2. that I would follow myself more. Turns out over the winter that 1. Peter followed it to the letter and 2. I only followed it 1/2 arsed. So Peter now is suddenly up the front of races, Mikey it seemed had slacked off a bit with age and John Bell was nursing some little ankle sprain or something. My bet to get the banter going for this Annagh Hill race was that if any of them beat me, I would go vegan for the rest of the year !

I had only raced Annagh once before a couple of years ago and I joined the “off course” gang with a wrong turn towards the end of the race. I knew the course was for the mountain goats and sloggers. Not necessarily my forte, so I was sort of faking my confidence going into the race that I wouldn’t gave to go vegan.

Race day conditions were thankfully perfect and there was a good turn out. A Mothers Day clash , so plenty of babies and buggies around, Mikey had the “mini-me’s” with him. Myself and Peter exchanged the usual slags and trotted up to the start. A few strides to open up the legs and soon enough RD Paul was lining us up. My only thought about the course was to take it easy at the start.

Thankfully, we trotted off at a very easy pace and I was happy out.... Mick Hanney (who incidently told me to save myself for the back half of the course) was the one who went off at the front ! Up the first steep climb by the wall and Brian Flannelly was just in front of me and we were just marching. Have to say, this is a great way to start a race for me... instead of going into the red in the first km. A few of the goats were having none of this so after a couple of mins, Robbie Bryson trotted up past us looking like he could run up a vertical hill if he had too. Mikey started also to get a move on and he trotted up too past myself and Brian. I had Peter on my tail and the banter was still going on. Next minute Bernard came out of nowhere and started pushing the pace up the climb himself. So by the time we got near the top of the first climb, there was robbie out front, with Mikey, Bernard, Myself, Peter, Brian and a few others close behind.

The race sort of started up on the ridge, the trail was dryer so I was able to pick up the pace a bit more. I’ve said this before, but IMRA races really help you distinguish between our strengths and weaknesses. And you can identify these in your competitors , espcially those you race regularly. So any constant running sections or slight downhill/uphills, I was passing out Bernard and Mikey. Any very steep ascent or descent, then they passed me ! New breed Peter, had actually skipped ahead of the 3 of us but I was thinking he’d burn himself out too early.

The first techincal descent bit would have made a great video. Peter Bell flew by Robbie and went into the lead. Mikey flew by me and caught Robbie who had taken a slight fall. Bernard was just ahead of me and Damien MacFaarland seemed another good descender as he managed to pass me too. I managed to pass Robbie towards the end. Literally in the space of 100m.... Peter and Mikey had got to the front, myself and Robbie had lost ground on them... Bernard and Damian just ahead.

I was just behind Bernard so I knew I had my own human GPS signal given he was marking the course the day before. A nice twisty turny section through the forest led is to the beast of Annagh... the practically vertical climb. However, we seemed to be a man down... as there was no sign of Peter... in his eagerness to get ahead..... he went off course.... what a shame ;) . So I now had just Mikey to beat so that I could still eat some meat.

We all started the climb more or less in a bunch. We all did the usual hands on the knee hike... except of Robbie , who kept up his trot .... and it reminded me of what he still holds the record for the ascent of Snowden in 1985 !

So Robbie gets ahead again, and its Bernard and Mikey just ahead of me. I knew the return home would involve lots of long drags so I was hoping my endurance would help me get ahead of the lads. But Mikey seemed to have found form again and was keeping ahead with Bernard on his shoulder. In a race, its great to have someone just ahead of you as a marker as well as motivation to keep up your pace. Doesn;t matter where in the race you are..... I find if I am alone with no one ahead of me, its easy to just slack a bit and not push yourself. I couldn’t here Damian behind me anymore so I just had to concentrate on making back up ground on Bernard on Mikey who were just about 10-20secs ahead of me. On the last drag I managed to keep running, and caught Bernard, with Mikey still being able to get away. I just passed him before the top and could see the bright orange top of Robbie a good bit ahead of us. As soon as we started the last descent, Mikey skipped by me again..... my descending is a bit better from the Kerry hills so I wasn;t losing much ground on him. Through a grassy section and Mikey overshot a turn... this allowed me to get back to him. Racing is generally fun but it makes it even more fun when you are almost an hour on a techincal course racing almost shoulder to shoulder with someone you know and have the craic with. The zig zags came and Mikey went down ahead of me as we skimmed over the rocks. I knew we would hit the fire road to the finish and I knew I could get my running legs going. I had Mikey just 2 yards ahead of me as we hit the fire road and I managed to sprint home ahead. Maybe I was able to use one of my own strengths at the final hurdle as I know if it was a steep descent to the finish , I would be vegan now !

Great to race such a course like Annagh with a friend so thanks for the company Mikey ! We didn’t manage to catch up with Robbie who put too much time into us on the long climbs on the way back. Bernard wasn’t far behind us and given he told me afterwards that he hasn’t trained in 3 weeks due to a back injury, he showed how strong he was on his local course. Would have been great if Peter had of stayed on track too, although I won’t be sharing any more training secrets with him from now on.

Back to the Wicklow Gap pub for soup, sambo’s and pizza’s. Good to catch up with everyone and drink Peters tea. Well done to Paul, Mick and all the volunteers. I think its a course that someone will always go wrong by defaut, such is the nature of it. I’m just glad it wasn’t me this time ! It would have made the long drive home back to the Kingdom even longer. Speaking of which, better start organizing Mt Brandon. A bigger hill and one you cannot get lost on ;)

Haunted by Peter Bell

This race is a variation of the Annagh routes held in recent years. It took on board the feedback from people and offered back the best of what the hill has to offer including an extra loop of mainly single track at the far end of the hill, taking out fire road that nobody wants.

Annagh Hill is only 10 mins from my house so its a bonus 'close by' race to help out at and do. The day started with perfect weather conditions and the route itself is probably as dry as its ever been for IMRA races.

Pre-race stuff ran like clockwork. The Gap pub is a great setting for registration. From the outset it looked like a good crowd was in attendance.

After brief race instructions and a wait for Adrian Hennessy to run back to the start line we were off at 12 noon. It was slow enough at the start so I found myself in the unusual position of pushing the pace at the start before the first steep hill. Once we hit the hill, normal service was resumed as a steady stream of runners (walkers) passed by led by the incomparable Robbie Bryson. After my initial fire road sprint my legs were now regretting it on the oh so steep climb.

Onto the ridge line and I run steady to the 3.7k mark which was marshalled and which marked the 'drop' along the wall. Looking at Strava I can see what some runners went wrong here and turned right (Adrian, Brian, et al), almost full circle, to run down a fireroad before they realised and turned back. I had a good downhill along the wall and a decent run around the single track loop at the bottom before emerging at the bottom of the Connahill climb.

This climb is a brute. My legs were suffering so thoughts of running this hill were pushed to one side and instead I managed a steady march upwards alongside Aidan Coffey. Passed the brother Andy on the way who was taking pictures of people's suffering on the climb. Rumour has it that Robbie ran most of this hill. That shows up the rest of us!

Coaxing the legs back to life after the climb, we resumed more climb towards the ridge. I was feeling the effects of the race in the legs and struggling to run what I would normally run. Things improved once we hit the wall track at the top and I started to tip away. Until I was passed. I was expecting Mike Jordan to pass (Mike being ace at the uphills). Instead it was Peter Bell - who had passed me on the first hill, so obviously had gone wrong, at the wall drop perhaps.

On and up the ridge line we went. Then up ahead I could see runners taking an impromptu left turn from the ridge line. A red arrow on a white background was pointing left. It wasn't an IMRA arrow and had nothing to do with the official marking. I shouted to the nearest runner (Aidan) and managed to get him back on course behind me. A few more had unfortunately followed that arrow too before realising their mistake.

With 2k to go the legs were starting to actually function. On 'Enduro falls' I was passed by Peter Bell (a third time - him having taken said left arrow) and Adrian Hennessy - who had also gone off-line earlier. Aidan Coffey also passed me - was I going that slow?

Onto the final descent and I was aware of another runner getting close. Finishing straight and I pushed as hard as I could, but my old legs couldn't match the sprint finish of Brian Flannelly - another who had gone astray - at the wall drop again?

A decent race for me but should have been better. At least I kept on the prescribed route which was a bonus. Great chats with people afterwards. Fantastic result by Robbie Bryson to win. Unlucky for some people to have gone astray when they were having very solid runs - Becky, Alan, Aoife, Fabio, etc.

Talking to the brother later it emerged that some marking put out on Friday on the far loop had been removed by someone. I don't think this impacted any of the wrong turns taken on the day...

All in all a great day and a fine route. The best Annagh hill route ever. Well done Paul Joyce and volunteers for a great event.

The beast

Have been looking forward to this race for the last couple of years had been injured r for some other reason missed it...the other week I found out it was on Mother’s Day and thought flip that game over...
So bring the troops and make a day out of it and the plan worked out I got the pancakes on and made sure it started off well after losing an hour of sleep we headed down ..,I love coming of at the fruit farm junction (unfortunately no fruit:((...)you first see Annagh in the distance as Rosie pointed out my lovely you get a Nike away you see the Beauty the pain the steepness of that first climb...
Headed in to Reg meet Barry(who’s headed up from dongle) and Peter and all the usuals (by the way I never took back my new voucher:((( hope someone has it...
So get ready so good bye to guys and head off to warm up meeting fab Chris and Gordon for some nice chats then Barry and Peter who had some great banter on are what’s app chats of who’s going to win:)
Paul with race briefing just about to start ah hear Adrian is only coming back to start line maybe a quick number 2 problem:))and were off Mick Hanney flys off as I think he’s on a 100metre sprint we all follow ..turning onto the first brutal hill we’re all very close I’m behind 5 or so they soon start walking sorry that’s not for me so I have to pass out through some brambles but manage to get into first place I like to keep a steady run eventually I knew Mr Bryson would pass me out he is so good on the very steep hills r climbs in general so my plan of been first to top gone:) bernad is on my heels but I mange to hold him off till the long way across where Peter Barry bernad passed me but I kept up with them it’s a long way across nice fun have to watch were you put your feet...eventually we get to that first steep downhill can’t see Peter didn’t think he was that fast :) I pass bernad Barry our rob takes a dive I manage not to stand on him:) so back into first since unfortunately Peter went the wrong way:)
It’s a beautiful section after the steep descent Damian passed me out around here I keep up with him bernad still with us Barry behind somewhere...I knew it was coming the big hill back up rob passes us out again I kept up with bernad Damien in behind not to slippery today but tough going eventually hit the top where it levels off a bit a couple of trees to jump lifting the legs just about then the meandering all the way back the way we came down myself and bernad passing each other out quite a few times eventually near to top Barry passes me I keep up with him rob is still on front somewhere hoping to maybe catch him on the when it’s starts going down I pass Barry out and try and put some distance but he’s not far behind down through the zig zags see rob but he’s to far ahead back into the first ran slight the wrong way had to back track so I lost my little bit of gain on Barry hit the final descent still in second bang onto the fire and Barry had the final say and piped me just about we had a super big hug (we were so tired we held each other’s up:))super racing dude well done:)
My family there to cheer my on really nice way to finish a race:)
I think there was a few running there own route today maybe some reports from them Peter?
On to the pub for pizza for the lads soup and sandwich’s for me and posie and some great chats as always:)

Thanks again to Mick and Paul for a super coarse what a beast well done and too all the volunteers:)and Imra for the food:)

Ps don’t miss this race it’s one of the best:)